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Life in the UAE


What you need to know about consuming alcohol in UAE

Expat residents and tourists visiting the UAE need to know the local laws regarding alcohol consumption to avoid being fined and even jailed.

Find below some of the most important legal aspects related to drinking liquor in the United Arab Emirates.

Don’t drink alcohol in public

It is illegal to drink in any public place in the UAE. Public drinking is strictly prohibited.

There are licensed restaurants and bars where you can drink. Besides, there are designated stores from where licence-holders can purchase alcohol. It is important to get a licence because there are chances one could get arrested if reported or found drunk. Regulations for drinking apply to both residents and tourists in the UAE.

Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol

Driving under the influence of alcohol or in an intoxicated state is a crime, as the drugs affect your judgement, coordination, and ability to drive.

The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy in place regarding drunk driving.

You will not just get a fine

Motorists caught driving under the influence of alcohol will get a maximum fine of Dh20,000 and/ or a jail term to be decided by the court, 23 black points and confiscation of the vehicle for 60 days.

The driver may also be arrested.

Additional penalties may include suspension of driving licence for a period not less than three months and not exceeding two years.

Punishment for a person caught drunk or drinking without an alcohol licence includes imprisonment for a period of six months or a fine of Dh5,000 or both.

Drinking at the workplace

If an employee is found under the influence of alcohol or drugs during working hours, the employer has the right to dismiss the employee without prior notice.

Duty-free limits on arrival in Dubai

The amount should not exceed 4 litres of alcoholic beverages or 2 cartons of beer (each consisting of 24 cans, not exceeding 355ml for each can or its equivalent). Travelers must be above 18 years for carrying allowable cigarettes or alcoholic beverages into the country.

How to get alcohol licence in Dubai

Non-Muslim residents of Dubai can buy or consume alcohol if they have an alcohol licence.  You need to fulfill below requirements:

  • Above 21 years old
  • Residence visa holder
  • The minimum monthly salary should be Dh3,000

You can find application forms online on African + Eastern or Maritime and Mercantile International liquor store websites. Hard copies of the form are available at the stores.

The applicants need to fill the form and return to the store with the following documents:

  • Copy of passport, resident visa, and tenancy contract
  • Copy of labor contract issued by the ministry (in Arabic and English)
  • Salary certificate
  • Passport size photographs
  • Fee payment of Dh270 or whatever applicable from time-to-time

It takes about two weeks to process an application for licence. If you want to obtain a licence through your company, the application should have the stamp and sign of both the employer and the applicant.

If you are working in a free zone, your company also needs approval from the free zone authority.

If you are self-employed, the copy of trade licence has to be submitted along with the application.

If a married couple is looking for a licence, only the husband can apply. The wife will be allowed to apply if there is a NOC from her husband.

If she is married to a muslim, a woman needs a written authorisation from her husband for a licence. The details of wife will be added to the card chip. After receiving a licence, the wife will be allowed to buy alcohol without her husband’s presence.

Single women may also apply for licence. The validity is one year.


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