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5 Surprising Facts About Drinking In Dubai
(31 May 2023)


Picture: David Rodrigo

The city and emirate of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, is a highly desirable place to visit for its modern architecture, nightlife scene, and record-breaking skyscrapers. However, if you plan to party the nights away or go bar-hopping, you must familiarize yourself with alcohol laws. You might be shocked by how much they differ from your home country.

Muslims Can’t Drink                

You might assume that as long as a bar employee in Dubai has the local equivalent of an RSA, they can serve any bar patron alcohol. After all, hospitality training ensures you can provide safe alcohol service to ensure your patrons drink responsibly.

However, alcohol consumption and service look much different in Dubai. Dubai is a Muslim city following Sharia Law as part of their religious legal system for people of the Islamic faith. The Qur’an forbids drinking, and even indirect association with alcohol is generally not tolerated. As a result, Muslims living in Dubai are not allowed to drink.

Tourists Can Drink

Dubai officials know that tourism is vital for their country, with millions of people visiting annually. As a result, they do permit tourists to drink. However, there are strict rules for where you can buy and consume it.

Tourists can drink in licensed restaurants and hotels and bars that form part of licensed hotels. However, you won’t be able to venture down to your local beach or park for a beer, or any public place, for that matter. Dubai officials impose strict rules surrounding public intoxication.  

You Must Be Licensed to Purchase Alcohol

Purchasing alcohol in Dubai is not as straightforward as in other countries like America, Australia, and New Zealand. If you wish to buy alcohol from a liquor store, visitors must apply for 30-day alcohol licenses.

Fortunately, these are straightforward to apply for, and you can receive one instantly. Visit a Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI) alcohol retail outlet with a photocopy of your passport showing at least three months validity, a photocopy of your passport page showing your entry stamp with 30 days validity, and your passport photo. You can then fill out a form to confirm that you’re a tourist and will then be able to buy alcohol during your vacation.

The Drinks Are Exceptional

For a city that doesn’t promote alcohol use, you might be shocked to learn how exceptional the drinks are when you visit a licensed bar or restaurant. You can be treated to some of the best cocktails you’ve ever had, mind-blowing wine lists, and some of the world’s finest champagne at seven-star hotels. Despite the restrictions, you’ll undoubtedly discover some of the most exciting alcoholic beverages in Dubai.

Law-Breakers Can Face Severe Punishments

You might assume you can get away with the same drinking behaviors in Dubai as in other countries, but that might not be accurate. Something as simple as venturing out of your hotel room under the influence of alcohol might see you fined or sentenced to jail for six months.

There’s no denying alcohol consumption in Dubai is not as easy as in other countries. However, by being aware of alcohol laws and following them during your visit, you’ll likely have no problems having a great vacation experience in Dubai.

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