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Alcohol Laws in Dubai – Where Can You Drink Legally?

01 November 2019

Can I drink alcohol in Dubai?

There is a common misconception that you cannot drink in Dubai, but, this is not true. However, the laws on alcohol consumption in Dubai are very different from those in other nations, and if you are found breaking some of these strict laws, you could face hefty punishments. Essentially, as a tourist, you can drink in Dubai, but you have to stick to the designated areas, and you should not be found drinking, or intoxicated in public.

You can only drink in approved areas that hold the correct alcohol licenses such as hotels, resorts, bars, restaurants and clubs. It is also important to possess an alcohol license before purchasing alcohol. Besides, the license-holders can purchase alcohol from designated stores. Regulations for drinking are applicable to both residents and tourists in UAE.

What is the legal drinking age in Dubai?

You should be at least 21 years of age to drink alcohol in Dubai.

dubai alcohol rules

Can tourists buy alcohol in Dubai?

Yes, tourists are allowed to purchase alcohol in Dubai, provided, they are non-Muslims over 21 years of age, and own an alcohol license. The law of the land requires you to have an Alcohol License to have a purchase/drink in Dubai.

An alcohol license permits the license holder, and only that person to consume, store, transport or possess alcohol, which means, that even to have alcohol at your home in Dubai, you need to own a license. As a license holder, you can purchase alcohol from registered and licensed shops that are part of Mercantile and Marketing International (MMI).

The maximum purchase value of alcoholic beverages should be 20 percent of your monthly salary, upto maximum Dh.5000. The alcohol should only be purchased from shops that are licensed to sell them, and the liquor so purchased should not be displayed or carried in public.

Can alcohol be purchased at Dubai Airport?

According to the official Dubai Customs website as of August 2019, travellers are allowed to bring in 4 litres of alcohol or 2 cartons of beer (with 1 carton equivalent to 24 cans each not more than 355ml) free of duty. These limits are applicable irrespective of from where the goods were purchased i.e., they include items purchased at Dubai Duty Free in the arrivals area. Please note that Dubai Duty Free is the only place where you can legally purchase alcohol in Dubai (other than in hotel bars and restaurants) without an alcohol license (
applicable only to residents).

Is drinking liquor allowed in Dubai airport?

Although adult tourists are allowed to drink alcohol on Emirates and Eithad flights, including flights to their airport hubs, it is illegal to drink alcohol or be intoxicated in public, as per rules in Dubai. This can lead to fine and imprisonment.

Can you drink alcohol in your hotel room in Dubai?

Alcohol is served in most major hotel bars, but, that is mostly for guests of the hotel. If you are consuming alcohol in a hotel, but are not staying there, you are required to have your own personal liquor license. However, if you are staying in the hotel as a guest, you can consume alcohol behind closed doors, but remember, you cannot walk around ‘looking drunk’. You will have to limit yourself within the confines of your room/hotel.

Is alcohol expensive in Dubai?

Majority of restaurants with alcohol-serving bars that are part of hotel, are expensive places to consume alcohol. A pint of beer will cost around AED30 in a bar, a glass of wine around AED40 and a basic cocktail around AED50. However, some restaurants offer rewards in the form of vouchers, happy hours, apart from plenty of deals and savings. Also, if you bring alcohol from the duty-free or purchase it from a store, it may help you save some money.

Fine for drinking alcohol in Dubai

As per UAE Alcohol Law of 1972, if you are caught drinking without an alcohol permit, the punishment includes imprisonment for a six-month period, or a fine of Dh.5000 or both.
Dubai adopts a zero-tolerance policy towards drinking and driving. If caught underthe influence of alcohol when driving, you may be fined a maximum of Dh.20,000 and  or imprisonment as decided by the court, apart from 23 black points and confiscation of vehicle for 60 days. The driver may be imprisoned as per Article No.59.3 of the law for driving under influence of alcohol or any other such narcotic substance.

There are additional penalties involving enactment of derivative measures by the court which may include suspension of driving license for a period of at least three months to maximum of two years.

Consumption of alcohol at the workplace is a serious offence, and if caught under such a circumstance during working hours, the employer has the right to dismiss the employee without prior notice.

Robin Vinod

Writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment and everyday life on GCC countries.

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