Skip to content

Can I Drink Alcohol in Dubai? All the dos and don’ts of 2023!

    Can I drink in Dubai? This is a recurring question among tourists, and it’s a good idea to know the Alcohol Laws in the UAE and the Drinking Laws in Dubai for Tourists. Dubai, renowned for its vibrant lifestyle and captivating attractions, has become an increasingly popular destination for unforgettable holidays. However, it is crucial to be well-informed about Dubai’s alcohol laws, as they are strictly enforced.

    Similar to other Muslim countries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has stringent regulations governing alcohol consumption. Violating these laws can lead to severe consequences, including imprisonment. Therefore, it is essential to understand the guidelines and restrictions associated with alcohol consumption in Dubai.

    While alcohol is not entirely prohibited in Dubai, it is heavily controlled. Non-Muslim residents and tourists can consume alcohol within designated areas, such as licensed hotels, restaurants, and bars. These establishments are permitted to serve alcoholic beverages to individuals who are above the legal drinking age.

    It is worth noting that public intoxication, driving under the influence, or consuming alcohol in non-designated areas are serious offenses. Penalties for such violations can range from hefty fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense.

    Let’s see if you can drink alcohol in Dubai and everything you need to know about it!

    Can tourists drink alcohol in Dubai?

    Dubai is well-acquainted with tourism and embraces an international lifestyle, thanks in part to its substantial expatriate population who live and work here.

    Consequently, the local laws are generally accommodating towards non-Muslim tourists and foreigners who wish to enjoy a beverage at one of Dubai’s numerous bars. However, it is important to note that the authorities maintain strict regulations regarding the consumption of alcohol in public spaces or when an individual is visibly intoxicated.

    The basic requirements to be able to drink alcohol in Dubai are:

    • Be at least 21 years old;
    • Drinking in a licensed venue, such as a hotel bar or club;

    And these are the things not to do when drinking alcohol in Dubai:

    • It is illegal to drink on the street or in any public place;
    • It is illegal to be drunk in a public place;
    • It is illegal to drive after drinking;

    Drivers must not drink. Tolerance is zero and is considered a serious criminal offense. You risk up to AED 30,000 in fines (approximately USD 8,000) and up to 3 years in prison!

    Be careful: these rules are valid in Dubai and practically also in Abu Dhabi and other emirates, with the exception of the emirate of Sharjah. Drinking alcohol in Sharjah is strictly prohibited, and this applies to everyone, including tourists and foreigners. Also, the possession of alcohol is prohibited in Sharjah, so do not bring bottles of alcohol with you if you intend to visit this emirate.

    Can I purchase alcohol in Dubai’s supermarkets or liquor stores?

    Here the matter becomes more complex! So, here’s some important information on buying alcohol in Dubai.

    Given the relatively high prices of drinks in Dubai (expect to pay around 45 AED, approximately 12 USD, for a 33cl beer), you might consider purchasing alcohol at a supermarket. However, there’s some bad news: supermarkets in Dubai do not sell alcohol.

    Alcohol is exclusively sold in special liquor stores that are licensed and controlled by the government. There are two main brands of liquor stores in Dubai: AFRICAN + EASTERN and MMI Liquor Store. These brands have multiple stores throughout Dubai, and you can easily find the one closest to you using Google Maps.

    Now, here’s the second piece of bad news: you need a license to purchase alcohol in Dubai. However, obtaining one is relatively straightforward, so there’s no need to worry too much.

    Non-Muslim visitors who wish to buy a few bottles of beer, wine, or spirits for personal consumption in their homes or hotel rooms can apply for a temporary alcohol license. This license is valid for 30 days and can be obtained directly from one of the AFRICAN + EASTERN or MMI liquor stores at the time of purchase. If needed, the license can be renewed.

    The requirements for the Dubai alcohol license for tourists are:

    • Be at least 21 years old;
    • You should not be a resident of Dubai (or anywhere else in the UAE);
    • You should show the original passport, with the entry visa;
    • You should fill out a short form and sign an official declaration stating that you meet the requirements, and that you will comply with UAE laws and regulations regarding the consumption and purchase of alcohol.

    The license will be issued to you immediately, and then you can buy whatever you want.

    Dubai Alcohol License for Residents and Expats

    If you are a non-Muslim expat residing in the UAE, you are required to have an alcohol license in order to purchase alcohol in Dubai. Since 2019, the application process for the Dubai Alcohol License for Residents has been simplified. It is no longer necessary to provide proof of minimum income and a rental agreement.

    Starting from August 2020, a new system has been implemented to replace the old “red card” system. Now, instead of submitting a copy of your passport, passport photo, and visa, you only need to present your Emirates ID.

    You can apply for the Dubai Alcohol License directly at African + Eastern or MMI stores. It’s important to note that the issuance of the license is not immediate, and it typically takes 2 to 3 weeks as the request is forwarded to the Dubai Police for approval.

    The basic requirements to obtain a Dubai Alcohol License for UAE Residents are:

    • Be at least 21 years old;
    • Submit a copy of your valid Emirates ID;
    • Pay the license fee of AED 270;

    The Dubai Alcohol License for Residents is valid for 1 year and is renewable.

    The Dubai Police may refuse your application for the Alcohol License. This usually happens when there are problems verifying your Non-Muslim status, or if you have a criminal record or pending court case in the UAE.

    Remember that you can apply for a Dubai Alcohol License for Residents only if you are a Dubai resident.

    If you are a resident of another emirate (your residence visa was issued by another emirate, for example Abu Dhabi, or Sharjah or RAK) your license application will be sent for approval to the police of that emirate, and you will need to have a NOC by the police of your emirate of residence.

    Abu Dhabi Alcohol License for Residents

    Starting from the end of September 2020, an alcohol license will no longer be necessary for purchasing alcohol in Abu Dhabi.

    Other Useful Things to Know for your Trip to the UAE

    Great, now that you have become an expert on shopping and drinking alcohol in Dubai, you may need to find out more interesting tips for your trip to the UAE: