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There is often a lot of confusion associated with alcohol laws in Dubai, which has long been prohibited under various Islamic laws and customs. For those of us visiting Dubai from abroad, this can be quite a culture shock. However, recent legislation has changed the legality of drinking alcohol in Dubai so that it is more accessible for residents and tourists alike.

In this article, we are going to look at the changes to alcohol laws in Dubai regarding its consumption, food and drink experiences and the current legislations in place. As well as a few other important considerations when on holiday.

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Changes to the alcohol laws in Dubai

Recent legislation from the United Arab Emirates has made alcohol consumption in Dubai much more palatable. As of November 7th 2020, new alcohol laws have taken effect in Dubai which outlines that:

• Drinking alcohol is no longer a criminal offence in Dubai, and there is no need to obtain a licence to drink or purchase alcohol if you are a resident or tourist.

• The legal age for alcohol consumption in Dubai (and the UAE) is 21 years old - if anyone is caught selling or providing minors with alcohol they will be punished.

• Alcohol is only to be consumed in private premises or licensed public places.

These are drastic changes that make the taboo of drinking alcohol in Dubai much less pronounced. These laws have been put in place to promote tourism and invite western culture into Dubai, which has previously maintained a strict stance on alcohol. In essence, you now no longer need to purchase any type of licence to consume alcohol if you are a resident or tourist in Dubai.

Understanding the alcohol laws in Dubai for tourists

The main takeaway is that if you intend to drink alcohol for personal consumption, you no longer need to apply for a licence. There are a few other changes to the laws in Dubai that you should be aware of to keep you safe and on the side of the law:

• Due to licensing laws, all venues that serve alcohol must be attached to a hotel or be part of a private club.

• Drinking in public spaces, such as in streets, or being under the influence of alcohol in public is illegal.

• To legally drink alcohol in Dubai you must be at least 21 years old.

In essence, you can drink alcohol if you are 21 or older, provided that you aren’t visibly drunk or drinking alcohol in public.

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Where to find licensed premises in Dubai?

The current legislation surrounding alcohol consumption in Dubai states that venues that serve alcohol are either a private club or part of a hotel. So, with the exception of a few hotels that specify they are ‘family’ or ‘dry’ premises, your best bet is to head to a hotel bar or restaurant for an alcoholic drink.

The alternative is to attend a club such as a sporting club, which are venues that provide entertainment and provide alcohol. These locations have serving licences that allow them to serve alcohol from within their establishment. Remember - alcohol must be consumed within the premises, otherwise you are breaking the law.

Frequently asked questions about drinking alcohol in Dubai

To help alleviate any concerns and provide you with the latest advice about drinking alcohol in Dubai, take a look at these frequently asked questions and answers.

Q. Can I bring alcohol with me into Dubai?

A. Yes, provided it isn’t too much. According to the latest advice from Dubai customs guidelines, individuals can import up to 4 litres of alcohol.

Q. Can you go to jail for being drunk in Dubai?

A. In most circumstances, just being drunk won’t land you in any hot water with Dubai authorities. Just like in a western country, if you are drunk and belligerent or causing a scene, then it is likely that you will get some attention from the police. The general rule of thumb is don’t cause a nuisance if you are drunk, and don’t get too intoxicated otherwise you might get in trouble.

Q. Is there a drink-driving limit that is enforced in Dubai?

A. Yes, the limit is 0.00 BAC. In Dubai, there is a zero-tolerance policy for driving while intoxicated. So even if you’ve only had one beer, if you drive you’re breaking the law.

Q. Can I buy alcohol from a store using my visitor visa?

A. Strictly speaking, you require a licence to drink in the UAE, but with the changes to legislation, this requirement has become less clear. One of these changes outlines ‘home’ consumption of alcohol, such as in rented accommodation or a hotel room. There is also a 30-day tourist licence that is free that can be acquired from certain liquor stores or from African & Eastern.

As a tourist, you will require your passport and have to fill out a declaration outlining that you aren’t a resident of the UAE and that you will adhere to the alcohol regulations of the country. This form is held by you and a copy is held by the store that issued it.

Q. Where can I get a good alcoholic drink in Dubai?

A. As mentioned, almost all hotels that aren’t dry provide alcohol from an attached bar. There are also some excellent restaurants that offer alcohol and excellent dining experiences. We recommend looking into the following hotspots for a nice meal and an alcoholic drink in Dubai:

• NOLA eatery and social house: With a distinct New Orleans feel, the NOLA eatery and social house offer a jazz-themed establishment with classic southern U.S comfort foods and alcoholic drinks. We recommend trying out their po-boys if you fancy some classic New Orleans food. They offer an excellent selection of beers, liquor, wines and cocktails from their menu too!

• Ramusake: Located in the DoubleTree by Hilton in JBR, this Japanese-themed restaurant offers exquisite classic Japanese meals and an assortment of high-class whiskeys and cocktails. Enjoy some handcrafted sushi with a fine Irish whiskey or traditional sake at Ramusake.

Dubai Food and Drink Experiences

Dubai has a lot to offer tourists when it comes to dining and places to stop for a drink. To discover the best locations and make the most of the latest alcohol laws in Dubai, book your food and drink experiences with

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