It’s home to the tallest tower in the world (Burj Khalifa at 828 meters). Its police force makes use of luxury cars (Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bentleys) to fight crime. Its vending machines dispense everything from cameras to phones and laptops — and even gold bars. And there are more expatriates making up the national population than locals.
These are all fun facts about Dubai, the City of Gold, that you are sure to have heard about before at one point or another. Luxury, diversity and innovation are synonymous with this jewel in the United Arab Emirates.
For tourists and new expats, however, one aspect of Dubai life may remain shrouded in relative mystery: alcohol consumption.
Is drinking allowed in Dubai? Can alcoholic beverages be part of simple or lavish celebrations? Would having a drink just to cap off the night be culturally acceptable?
For anyone new to Dubai, this beginner’s guide to the City of Gold’s drinking policies is sure to be a lifesaver.
Keeping the law of the land in mind
Being a Muslim city, Dubai follows Sharia Law. According to the Islamic faith’s legal system, the consumption of alcohol can be tolerated in certain circumstances, but there are also strict laws imposed that must be observed.
1. Tourists are permitted to drink in appropriate locations
Drinking alcohol is allowed for visitors to Dubai, as long as this is done in licensed places such as restaurants, bars and hotels. So if you’re attending or throwing a party with friends, meeting someone for business, or just craving your favorite drink, the only thing to do is to go to the right establishments for these.
Having said that, visitors must remember that displaying public drunkenness is strictly forbidden, so it’s best to keep your consumption in check at all times. Make sure to keep any social media posts about drinking in Dubai to the absolute minimum, if you must post at all, using generic terms. In addition, there is zero tolerance for drinking and driving in Dubai.
2. Residents require an alcohol license to drink, transport or store alcohol at home.
It is necessary for people living in Dubai to secure their license before they can purchase alcohol from licensed establishments or to drink and keep the alcohol at home.
- Obtain an Alcohol License application form. You can get it from one of the physical stores of African + Eastern, the largest alcohol retailer in the Middle East. Alternatively, you can fill out an Alcohol License Application eForm.
- Submit your pertinent documents with your application (for those applying online, you can upload your documents after filling out the eForm). These documents include copies of your passport, visa, labor contract and tenancy contract, as well as a passport photograph.
- Pay a fee of AED 270.
When these have been completed, you will simply need to wait for potentially up to four weeks, for your application to be processed. You will then receive a call once your new liquor license is ready for pickup.
A Dubai liquor license is typically valid for a period of 11 months from the issue date. When the 11 months are up, you will be provided with a temporary liquor license during the renewal period (which is valid for up to two weeks). This means that in actual fact, you are able to use your license for a full 12-month period.
Additional notes and benefits of an Alcohol Licence
Aside from being permitted to buy, transport and store alcohol, you can also enjoy a few other privileges from securing your alcohol license.
- An alcohol license comes with vouchers worth AED 1,500 which you can use in various restaurants and bars across Dubai.
- You are permitted to shop at any of African + Eastern’s stores across the city, or on their official website, seven days a week, with access to great value and their best offers.
- Also, bear in mind that in some cases a person may be unsuccessful at obtaining an alcohol license. If, for example, there are issues with your religion, you are engaged in some form of cheque fraud, and you are involved in police or court cases, the Dubai Police’s Criminal Investigation Department may reject your application for a liquor license.
Once you have obtained your license, get together with family, old friends or new acquaintances and sit back and relax. In Dubai, you can purchase some of the best liquor from all over the world, and its countless renowned restaurants and bars offer exquisite signature cocktails that will have you coming back for more.