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, or be under the influence of alcohol in a public space.

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

Girl with a cocktail

It is an offence to buy alcohol from an off-licence without an alcohol licence. These issued to resident non-Muslims and, from summer 2019, non-Muslim tourists.

According to strict interpretation of Dubai’s alcohol laws an alcohol license is required to purchase alcohol in a bar, restaurant, or hotel. In practice, none of these venues require buyers to present their alcohol licence. Many tourists consume liquor without a licence and almost all encounter no problems.

On rare occasions, people are prosecuted for being drunk and/or not complying with alcohol licence requirements. In most situations, this is where they have drawn attention to themselves by committing a related criminal offence (including disorderly or offensive behaviour). In these cases the alcohol offences are usually added to a charge for the main offence.

Other points to note include:

  • Drivers should note that Dubai has a zero tolerance policy on drink driving.
  • Not all hotels serve alcohol. There are many ‘dry hotels’ aimed at Muslim visitors.
  • Special rules come into effect during the holy month of Ramadan.
  • Alcohol prices in Dubai are high.

Abu Dhabi and the other emirates of the UAE have similar laws regarding the buying and consumption of alcohol. The exception is Sharjah, where alcohol is completely illegal.

Comments and Additional Information

  1. Please, I was a resident in Dubai in 2014, I was arrested for possession of beer and was fined, i could not pay the fine but stayed in jailed for 7 to 9 days and the case was resolved.

    I later cancelled my my Visa because I was having issues with my company. Now, I have a seminar in Dubai, I want to be sure if I ll be allowed entry

    Reply
  2. I am an Atheist from Pakistan (Ex-Muslim). Can I buy alcohol in Dubai? Do the bar attenders check identity?
    Please help

    Reply
  3. Hi,
    I would like to know is there any action against those who are drinking without license permit and disturb others after drinking ( like urine on room mate stuff, disturbing, fighting and for those who are Muslim and drinking)

    Reply
  4. I am visiting my Father in Dubai in a month. Do I need a licence if I want to go out to the bar/hotel to have a drink with him.

    Reply
    • No. you can access and get a drink at any bar/hotel in the country without obtaining a special licence. As long as the serves alcohol.

      Reply
  5. Eventhoug i am a muslim and from Turkey, how do they know that I am muslim? It is no longer written in Turkish ID cards. So is the important thing is here to come from a muslim country or becoming a muslim? Everyone saying differently. I am a muslim but i am drinking.I can drink in bars without licence and i can buy from duty free but i cant travel with that bought alcohol right? Thats not make sense

    Reply
  6. It’s pretty simple really – if you like to drink on holiday don’t go to the UAE! Why risk running afoul of their confusing and subjective laws when there are so many other places to visit.

    Reply
  7. I think I will be avoiding Dubai, even though I’ve had some great times there. After reading about the dentist and her daughter that were detained in jail and had their passports taken, I think it’s not as friendly a place as I thought it was.

    Reply
    • Fake news.

      Reply
      • No it isn’t.

        Reply
    • More to this story than what is being said in the press. She arrived with an invalid visa and was refused entry. She then started to argue with immigration officials. Critically, she then started to film them with her mobile phone. Filming immigration officials is an offence almost everywhere in the world.

      True, she was arrested for being drunk after drinking wine on an Emirates flight. She wasn’t drunk. Looks like they charged her with the wrong offence. Had she been charged with filming immigration officials or disorder, this wouldn’t have attracted the attention of the press like it has.

      Millions of people arrive in Dubai every year having consumed alcohol on a flight. In 99.9 percent of cases there are no problems. Problems such as this arise when people start to cause trouble. The alcohol consumption then becomes an issue.

      Reply
      • Still regardless it seems a bit harsh. Obviously she wasn’t drunk if her alcohol level was 04.% . I would avoid Dubai as a female. Especially traveling alone. Without a male companion.

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    • I visit Dubai three times a year for about two weeks and not a day goes by without me drinking alcohol in a pub while I stay there. I have never encountered any problems even when walking home a little tipsy to my hotel. Drinking alcohol is not a problem. But when you drink alcohol, arrive without valid papers at immigration and then start shouting to an official and filming him, you will create your own problem.

      Reply
    • The dentist was arrested because she was intoxicated, argued with an immigration official, and too photos in a security zone. Her blood alcohol level indicated that she was intoxicated.

      It is legal to consumer alcohol on flights to the UAE and in the UAE. You just have to observe licensing laws.

      Reply
    • Good decision! Danny.. 👋🏻 from another Danny!!

      Reply
    • It is true actually.
      Aother British lady was held by the arms of Dubai law for 18months and jailed for three months. passport revoked, lived like an animal, for purely being under the influence in a taxi.

      Reply
  8. I am moving to Dubai and a non-practising Muslim, is there any way at all of me gaining an alcohol license? And would I get into trouble if I did have one?

    Reply
    • Regardless of whether you have a license to drink alcohol or not it is totally illegal to “be under the influence” (any limit say even 0.04 %) of alcohol in public. or drink alcohol in public.
      So yes by all means you can go to a approved venue that sells alcohol and have a few .
      However if the police decide for ANY REASON to breathalyze or blood test you when you are in public and if you have alcohol (any amount) in your system you could be jailed.
      The UAE are deliberately trying to fool non muslims that they are tolerant of western visitors and tourists (and to a certain extent that’s true)and don’t want to hurt the economy but it is Totally illegal to drink alcohol or have alcohol in your system whilst your in public, the fact that that you are at the discretion of a law official means that if you are going to drink alcohol in Dubai then you are one breathalizer away from jail time.

      Reply
    • Don’t tell them you are a non-practicing Muslim.

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    • Sure, it’s perfectly fine…until they say its not! These are muslims and they think like muslims.

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    • dude we are muslim if u go to a bar or a club no one cares as long as your 21 buying you can buy easy from ajman or some places dont bother asking in abu dhabi no one cares

      Reply
    • Sister, Just give up alcohol. Its harm’s out weight its advantages. Fear god, your Muslim. Even if your not practicing, You will be in trouble in the end if you wish to start (or keep) drinking.

      Reply
  9. My friend told me he was deported from Dubai because he was caught selling drinks. My question here is legal for one to sell drink in Dubai in a house with alcoholic license.

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    • Is there any problem if I buy one or 2 bottles from Ajman to go to Dubai

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    • No selling alcohol is illegal you must be a license bar or restaurant. If you have a license this only allows you to buy from shops.

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    • Law is pretty confusing when it comes to alcohol. Technically “ selling” means giving up the ownership of product against monetary benefits. But In UAE, definition of “selling” is “ with view of providing it to a third party”.. that means, even if you have alcohol permit for yourself, you can’t offer alcohol to your wife or friends. In legal point of view it will be termed as selling. It’s just depends on your day then, what prosecutors wants to charge you for 😋😛😝

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      • My employer give me alcohol and he took my picture what can I do

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  10. can you brew your own beer at home for personal consumption?

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    • No this would not be permitted under the strict rule of law. Alcohol is illegal in Dubai it is a dry state.

      However, there is an exception for Non-Muslims/non residents living and working in Dubai. You must be sponsored, and obtain the correct paperwork and licences to purchase alcohol in special outlet locations. It is clearly understood this alcohol is for personal consumption in the privacy of your own home.

      Hotels, clubs and bars do sell alcohol to tourists and non muslims, its a very grey area in terms of law. Being intoxicated in any public place is against the law. Drinking alcohol in a public place is against the law.

      If anyone reports you for an alcohol offence the police MUST act, you will not get off with a warning.

      Just be sensible, and keep it private.

      Reply
  11. Any pointers on this would be appreciated….I have my ID and pretty certain i can get all the other documents on the alcohol license list. Problem is I am in a hotel for the time being (at least three months). The hotel has no bar so am thinking getting a letter of no objection from them may be problematic. Has anyone experienced this and managed a way round it?

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  12. Can i have my own alcohol in a restaurant in Dubai ?

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  13. I am retired, my pension is well over 2000 AED, I have no employer. Would I be granted an alcohol license?

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  14. hi all,

    I am travelling to dubai next weekend with my family and friends. We are from India, We were about to book a hotel but we got to know that it is a dry hotel (EMIRATES GRAND). I have a couple of questions.!
    > can I buy alchol in dubai? would it be a problem If I drink it in my hotel room?
    > Is a license required to drink in a hotel room? if yes from where I can get it.!
    > Is these lincense per person and how much will it cost. We will stay there for five nights.
    > Can we drink in the pubs, bars and then go back to our hotel? would there be a problem?
    > Can we just buy alchol from a duty free shop and then take it to our hotel and drink there?

    I mean I just dont want any trouble for my family there. Please help.

    Reply
    • Dear Tony,
      you can buy from duty free and consume inside your room within the hotel and not out side.
      no member of your party should cause any kind of trouble to other occupants of the hotel or on streets after consuming alcohol.
      it is offence to drive after consuming alcohol in UAE, hence always use taxi if you have to move around.

      Reply
  15. Do they give alcohol license to females?

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  16. Is it a law for all nightclubs and bars in hotels to have CCTV installed and recording 24/7? Is is punishable by law if they don’t?

    Reply
    • That’s an interesting question. I’m no lawyer and don’t have the time to research it fully enough to give you a definitive answer. However, I’ll let you know what I’ve found out. It will at least give you a starting point if you want to investigate further.

      The relevant piece of legislation appears to be Law No 24 of 2008. The law relating to hotels is in the Annex No 2. As bars and nightclubs in Dubai are in hotels, this is the relevant section.

      The states that hotels and short-stay residences must have colour CCTV cameras in all entries/exits, at all reception desks, all lifts and lift lobbies, at all emergency exit doors, parking areas, entries to business centres, vehicle drop off points, and loading/offloading areas. It makes specific reference that there must be cameras at all entries leading to bars and nightclubs. It does not state that there must be cameras within the bars and nightclubs themselves.

      I believe there are fines for non-compliance. However, you should seek legal advice for a conclusive answer.

      Reply
  17. I think they should also issue licenses to Muslim residents as well.

    Reply
    • I agree with you, especially since we are “allowed” to drink in bars and hotels etc. This law make no sense for me.

      Reply
      • So if a muslim drinks in a hotel or so, will they get arrested for it or is it just that they don’t get to issue a license of their own, I’ve seen muslims drink in sports bars, hotels etc… And they do it casually.

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    • NO THEY SHOULDN’T, the biggest sin in Islam is drinking, therefore it would make no sense for Muslims to be issued licenses

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      • Is this the biggest? More than killing someone?

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  18. Can you buy duty free alcohol at the airport and drink in your hotel room?

    Reply
    • You can buy alcohol at Dubai Duty Free but you can’t drink it legally in Dubai. To drink alcohol legally in Dubai you need an alcohol license.

      Do people do it? Of course they do. Everybody does it and most don’t have any problems. Rules like these are enforced only when tourists start creating problems.

      Legally you can’t even transport it in a taxi. They’ll happily sell it to you without an alcohol licence at Dubai Duty Free in the arrivals area.

      A blind eye is turned in most cases. Nobody asks to see your alcohol licence at Dubai Duty Free or in any restaurant or bar. Legally you need one though.

      Problems happen if you are drunk and go outside the hotel or bar or have an alcohol related incident. Take the case of British motorcycling champion Sean Emmett. His wife fell off a hotel balcony and died. He was arrested and fined for drinking alcohol without a license.

      People who have got drunk on Emirates flights and caused problems at the airport on arrival have also been arrested for drinking alcohol without a licence. Emirates, a government-owned airline, will gladly serve anybody alcohol.

      It is a crazy situation. In summary, nearly all tourists who want a drink do so and don’t have any problems. Strictly speaking they are breaking the law.

      Reply
      • This is not true, to BUY alcohol in Dubai you need the license but you do not need it to drink alcohol. You are permitted to buy alcohol at Duty Free to bring into the country and drink it in your hotel room. Stiff penalties for public drunkenness so if you over-indulge…stay in your room!

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      • Emirates is not government owned. It is chaired by one of the royal family but has had no subsidy and run a profit for decades. It’s not even the national carrier coz Etihad is, which is also not government owned.
        And the law for flights is the law of the departure country not the arrival one. Hence no alcohol on the ground in Dubai during Ramadan but no restrictions inbound.
        Also the license doesn’t give you permission to drink in any public place. Just at home. The rest is entirely a blind eye turned (although businesses can officially get a license to serve you).

        Reply
  19. They should give alcohol licences to tourists and they arrive. It is legal to buy it at Duty Free but technically they can’t drink it anywhere without a licence.

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    • It is a strange situation. I agree completely. To get a licence you need to be resident in Dubai and earn a certain amount. They could easily issue short-term licences for tourists without the residency and earnings conditions on arrival. I’m sure it could be stamped into passports in the same way as a visa on arrival is.

      I really don’t know why they don’t do it. It would encourage a lot more visitors to come to Dubai. They drink in hotel bars anyway, so I’m not sure why they won’t let them buy from stores.

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  20. 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!

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

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    • Yes! You can buy Liquor from duty free shop and take them back to the hotel.
      But make sure that you don’t fall into any legal issues while you are drunk. Then you will be punished.

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

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  23. 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.

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  24. 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.

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    • When I was Mumbai I too had to go to to a hole in the wall to purchase alcohol but in goa it was more freely available a lot of young people in nightclubs drink mock tails a non alcohol version of the cocktail

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  25. 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.

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    • Obviously muslims don’t require a license as they don’t drink .Drinking laws have to be implemented for people who want to drink these laws vary from country to country

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      • The correct statement is Muslims aren’t supposed to drink but I know many that do.

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  26. 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.

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    • Sharjah is completely dry. You to be careful of driving with alcohol through Sharjah.

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  27. 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.

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

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

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    • 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.

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      • That’s why he said “should” you illiterate person.

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      • Technically the legal drinking age federally is 18 in the US. It’s the states that make it 21 to get their funding for interstates.

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      • Legal drinking age in Punjab, India is 25.

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  30. 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.

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    • In Dubai, I was caught drinking alcohol without a license. They took my passport back I paid a 2000 a 2000dhm fine.
      I’d like to know if this is going to judge me as a criminal and give me a criminal record?
      I’m currently applying to go abroad and I’d like to know if I now need a police clearance from Dubai

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  31. 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?

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

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  33. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  34. 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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    • What if the tenancy contract is not in my name and I want to get a liquor license? Is that possible?

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      • According to the African and Eastern website you can get an alcohol licence if the tenancy contract is not in your name. You need to get a copy of the registered tenant’s contract plus copies of their passport and residence visa, plus a No Objection Certificate from them stating they have no objection to you holding an alcohol licence.

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