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Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai – According to the laws in the UAE, residents and visitors who are non-Muslims and over the age of 18 can purchase and consume alcohol. However, they require an alcohol licence to be able to do so.

Here is a step-by-step process on how you can apply for an alcohol licence in the emirate of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Possession and consumption of alcohol is illegal in the emirate of Sharjah.

How can I get one?

You will need the following documents if you are a resident of the UAE:

  • Photocopy of Emirates ID (Front & Back)
  • Photocopy of Passport (Minimum Validity of 3 months)
  • Photocopy of Visa Page (Minimum Validity of 1 month)
  • Passport Photo

In Dubai, you can get the alcohol licence online on by visiting the website of Mercantile and Marketing International (MMI), the sales and marketing subsidiary of Emirates Group or here.

Charges

  • Dh270, with the licence valid for a year.
  • 30-day licences for tourists are issued free of cost.

Once you upload the documents and make the payment, the application needs to be approved. You can then collect the licence from MMI or African and Eastern stores.

To get an alcohol licence in Abu Dhabi, whether you are a resident or a tourist, you can visit the website of the Special licence office.

Charges

  • Dh230 for residents, with the licence valid for a year.

Code of conduct

The UAE is a Muslim country with its tradition deeply rooted in Arab and Islamic values. However, the country is also known for its tolerance and how it embraces different cultures. Keeping these aspects in mind, there are certain regulations that need to be abided by at all times when buying or consuming alcohol.

- Regulations around alcohol purchase and consumption in the UAE

Buying and selling alcohol is controlled by very strict laws. Alcohol is exclusively sold by specialised licensed stores. It can only be bought by holders of an alcohol-purchasing license.

Hotels need to obtain a license to serve alcohol, as well, and could request you to show your liquor licence, too.

By law, the maximum purchase value of alcoholic beverages shall be 20 per cent of the monthly salary, to a maximum of Dh5,000.

Dos and Don’ts

Follow these steps to ensure you do not violate any UAE rules with regards to alcohol possession and consumption:

  1. Do not drink in public – it is illegal to drink in any place except designated public spaces. If you are found consuming alcohol in a non-designated area, you can be reported.
  2. If you are carrying alcohol in public. Ensure that it is not visible and kept in non-transparent bags.
  3. You are allowed to consume alcohol only within your hotel room/apartment.
  4. Do not consume alcohol if you are planning to drive. The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy in place regarding drunk driving.
  5. Always carry your alcohol licence with you.
THE PUNISHMENT FOR DRUNK DRIVING
The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy in place for drunk driving. The amount and severity of the fine is decided by UAE courts and the violation attracts 23 black points, with the vehicle being impounded for 60 days.

Violation: Driving under the influence of Alcohol | Fine: Amount and severity to be decided by court | Black Points: 23 | Retention period: 60 days for light vehicles

Licence for tourists

Tourists can also get an alcohol licence in Dubai free of cost.

To apply for the licence, visit any MMI store with your original passport.

  • Complete and sign a form confirming that you are a tourist and that you understand the rules and regulations with regards to purchasing, transporting and consumption of alcohol in Dubai.
  • Each visitor will be issued a code of conduct leaflet with regard to alcohol consumption as the UAE has strict laws in this regard.
  • There is no fee and you can shop right away.
  • The foot note also mentions that liquor licence issued to tourists is only valid for visitors who are non-Muslim and 21 years and over.
  • MMI further cautions the tourists on code of conduct regarding consumption of alcohol vis-a-vis the laws of the land: “Each visitor will be issued guidelines to responsible drinking in Dubai. Please ensure that you read this to ensure you are respectful of the country, its rules and its people that you are visiting.”