Alcohol

Dubai’s licensing laws require venues serving alcohol be attached to hotels or a private clubs. It is illegal to drink in the street or in a public space.

The legal drinking age is 21. Minors requiring something stronger than an orange juice should pack false beards.

It is an offence to buy alcohol from an off-licence without an alcohol licence. These are only issued to resident non-Muslims.

Special rules come into effect during the holy month of Ramadan.

Comments and Additional Information

  1. Mahendra143 says

    Thanks Jim, you made my point too. Those are the requirements folks for a liquor license to be acquired and MMI (Maritime and Mercantile International) or A&E (African & Eastern) are two liquor selling shops in Dubai that provide forms for alcohol license.
    Enjoy Responsibly Folks!

  2. Gangadhar says

    Can I purchase liquor at duty free shop and take them to hotel.

  3. Gavin says

    I don’t know where Gary Scotland was, but I went to the Irish Village and found plenty of drinks in an Irish "pub".

  4. Sherri says

    You cannot buy alcohol in shops or supermarkets in Dubai but it is readily available in bars, clubs and restaurants. You can buy it in duty free and take it in if you wish to enjoy it in the comforts of your own home/holiday apartment.
    Yes, like the UK if you are under-age you can take the risk of trying to get served but the consequences are a lot worse than being denied if you are found out.

  5. im always right says

    There are lots of places in UAE where you can buy alcohol, like the ‘hole in the wall’ place in Ajman, places in Um Al Quwain. I agree with Jason. I was 14 when I got into my first bar. There are clubs around here as well as the bars in hotels. I don’t think you have to be worried about the alcohol licence around here because it seems pointless to me as long as you know how to be sneaky and not attract any attention from the police then you’re good to go. Trust me, I’m born and raised in UAE so I know my way around. That Karama and Filipino thing? It’s been going on for ages! Plus there are other nationalities doing just about the same thing.

  6. A long-term Dubai resident says

    A load of nonsense is being posted. There are lots of decent, real pubs in Dubai. Muslims cannot get a booze licence as drinking alcohol is against their religion, that is not racist. It’s the main religion in the UAE, but they allow non-Muslims to drink and also to eat pork. It’s a pretty tolerant place if you follow a few simple rules.

  7. Nav says

    You can buy alcohol from the "hole in the walls" in Ajman/Umm Al Qwain and some of the other emirates.
    Ajman is an 45 min drive and a lot of people without a liquour license drive there and stock up.
    It’s safe/legal and everyone knows about it and does it.

  8. Jason says

    I have lived in Dubai for many years now, and I have noticed that it is easier to pose as 21 in Dubai, than to pose as 18 in the UK. I am only 16 now, but have used fake identification without any problems. Be aware that some places know these are fake and will most likely take them off you and do nothing further.

  9. Editor says

    Yes Nige.

  10. nige says

    Can you buy it in the airport and then take it to your hotel room?

  11. Eirik says

    How stupid? Why does it have to be 21? The proper age for alcohol should be 18 all over the world.

    • kirst says

      All over the world the drinking age is 18? Really? i can name several countries where the drinking age is 21. Like the USA! Dubai is the only Emirate where the drinking age is 21. In the other Emirates like Abu Dhabi the age is 18.

  12. Editor says

    Barry, you only need an alcohol license to buy it in shops. To drink in hotel bars you don’t need a license. You can also buy alcohol without a license at Dubai Duty Free at the airport.

  13. Barry says

    Jim, Tell me I have got this wrong please. I have to apply for and pay for an alcohol licence to have a few drinks? What about visitors?

  14. Gary Scotland says

    There aren’t any real pubs in Dubai. The only place you can get a drink is in a hotel bar.

  15. Jim says

    Here are some more facts about the alcohol licence:
    - Minimum income for an alcohol licence is Dh 2,000 per month.
    - The licence itself is a chip card that records every purchase. Amount you can purchase every month depends on your salary. The CID also have access to your purchase records and can see how much you are spending on alcohol.

    • Mike says

      In regards to Jim’s question. You can drink in bars without a license, but I believe you need one to TRANSPORT alcohol, i.e. if a friend with a license buys it for you and you have to get it from his house to yours. If the police stop you with alcohol in your possession and you have no liquor license, you’d better find a good lawyer.

  16. Jim says

    In order to qualify for an alcohol licence you must be a resident of Dubai and not Muslim. To get one pick up an application form from either a A&E or MMI store. This must be completed and stamped by your employer and returned to the store along with your photo and copies of your passport, employment contract, residence permit and tenancy contract.

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