You’re wondering if it is possible to drink alcohol in Dubai? I explain it all in this article 🙂
Dubai is the perfect destination to experience an unforgettable holiday. But although it is a state open to modernity, there are some local rules and customs to respect once you are there. Indeed, Dubai - and the United Arab Emirates in general - are governed by Muslim laws and are subject to many ancestral customs.
The locals are of course welcoming and respectful of the cultures and religions of both tourists and expatriates. They are also very patient, but to avoid finding yourself in an awkward situation - or even breaking the law! - I highly recommend following the advice below. The topic I'm addressing today is alcohol in Dubai.
It's only a small reading, but it will allow you to know if it is possible or not to drink in Dubai, and if so, in which establishment? You will learn everything about the customs in force in the emirate, and thanks to this, be able to put all the chances on your side to live a dream vacation...
CAN YOU BUY ALCOHOL IN DUBAI?
Dubai is a Muslim state and the Muslim religion prohibits the consumption of alcohol. However, the emirate is tolerant towards non-Muslims. Therefore, as a tourist or resident, you can indeed buy and drink alcohol in Dubai.
THE CASE OF TOURISTS
Legally, if you go on vacation in Dubai, you can buy and consume alcohol, but only under certain conditions.
First of all, you must: be non-Muslim and over 21 years old.
Secondly, you can only buy alcohol in the following places:
- In establishments authorized to sell alcohol to the public, i.e. those with a commercial license: hotels in Dubai, nightclubs, bars and resorts.
- In specialized stores (declared and accredited by the government), and this only if you have a purchase license issued by the Dubai authorities.
- In the duty-free zone of the airport.
Please note that the law is strict: you can only consume alcohol in these establishments. It is forbidden to drink in public places such as on the street or on the beaches of Dubai.
You can forget about drinking beers on the beach or sipping a cocktail in the sun, with your feet in the sand...
Note: alcohol is imported, so expect high prices!
THE CASE OF RESIDENTS
To purchase alcohol, non-Muslim residents of Dubai can apply for a license (a special permit). This license will allow them to consume alcohol in their own homes.
WHERE AND HOW TO GET A LIQUOR LICENSE IN DUBAI?
THE CASE OF RESIDENTS
To obtain the famous liquor license (purchase permit/sale permit/serving permit), residents normally have to apply to the Emirates Police Department (Dubai General Police Headquarters).
But a new legislation has recently appeared. Indeed, a circular dated September 15, 2020 came to relax the rules of purchase of alcohol. It announces the following: "the cancellation of permits for [the purchase] of alcohol. Residents and tourists will be allowed to buy it in licensed stores."
Now, expats in Dubai can:
- Apply for a liquor license (and renewal) online:
Those are the only two stores authorized to sell alcohol in Dubai.
These points of sale are now approved and registered and especially authorized to issue alcohol licenses. As a resident, you can therefore go there and ask for a permit to buy one or more bottles (purchase and consumption in authorized places only / no resale possible).
Please note that this is only possible if you are non-Muslim and over 21 years old! Also, you will not be able to buy as much alcohol as you want. The amount of money you earn, your age and your family situation will determine how much alcohol you can purchase.
Here are the documents to be provided for the application:
- A copy of your passport (valid for at least 6 months)
- Copy of your residence visa (valid for a minimum of 3 months)
- Copy of your Emirati identity card
- Copy of your employment contract (in Arabic and English)
- A copy of your rental contract or property title. If you are hosted by your company, you will also need to provide a NOC (Non Objection Certificate) issued by your company (approval from your employer).
- Proof of a salary of at least AED 3000/month.
- A photograph.
You will then be asked to fill out a statement certifying that you are aware of the rules and regulations regarding the purchase and consumption of alcohol in Dubai. All that remains is to pay the sum of 270 AED (about $74 or €65). You will be entitled to vouchers from African+Eastern to be used in their stores.
You will receive your license after 2 to 3 weeks (you will be notified by email or SMS), after which all you will have to do is show it every time you buy alcohol.
THE CASE OF TOURISTS
For tourists, the process is simple, and more importantly free! Once in Dubai, go to one of the two aforementioned stores and apply immediately for a temporary permit. Give your passport, it will be registered and you will receive a membership number that will allow you to buy alcohol as soon as you receive it. This permit is valid for 30 days.
Of course, if you plan to stay in your hotel, you will not need it. Applying for this permit is only really worth it if you have taken long-term accommodation.
- The license is only valid in one state. A license applied for in Dubai will only allow you to buy alcohol in Dubai.
- It must be renewed every year. The renewal of the license costs 160 AED (about $44 or €38).
- If you have a non-working spouse, you can add him or her to your license. If not, he or she will have to apply for it.
BEWARE OF SANCTIONS!
Regarding public drunkenness - the policy in Dubai is zero tolerance!
No matter where you are caught drunk (on the street or in your car - or worse, driving your car), you will automatically go to jail. You will also be fined... Not to mention that your visa may be taken away. So if you have been drinking, take a cab in Dubai, it's much, much safer!
The same applies if you are carrying alcohol: if you get caught with a large amount of alcohol, it will be seized and you will go straight to the judge.
It is better not to joke with alcohol in Dubai. It is tolerated and supervised, but do not try to test the limits!