Until now, alcohol purchase, conveyance and consumption by tourists in Dubai had been illegal. Further, only Dubai visa holders have been eligible for a two-year alcohol licence which allows them to buy alcohol from shops and store it at home. Several Dubai judges had previously admitted, in this light, that alcohol laws “forgot about tourists”.
The foregoing isn’t to say tourists couldn’t buy and consume alcohol before now at all. They could because the licence isn’t sought before sales. Although, while they could buy and consume alcohol responsibly without being put out and without being questioned, just because they have, it’d be terrible when they’re involved in misconduct, say, under the influence of alcohol.
First up, the alcohol licence is temporary (has 30-day validity), free and only open to non-Muslims above the age of 21. Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI), a subsidiary of the Emirates Group, and African + Eastern work together with the authorities in managing the licence system. They have guidelines on obtaining the licence on their website.
Upon the establishment of the licence, Yousef Al Bahar, a Dubai lawyer who had previously called for the introduction of a temporary alcohol licence says, “This is a welcome development that shows that the government in Dubai is open-minded and has respect for other cultures.”
The lawyer is in other words saying Dubai is liberal which I can relate to. Although besides this, the Arabian city’s dynamic. Did you know they offer free SIMS to tourists? Did you know they offer free visas to under-18 tourists during summer?
The licence notwithstanding, holders of the licence are required to comply with the laws on alcohol as everyone else does. For example, they can’t drink alcohol in public places and while driving, and can’t drive after consuming alcohol or under it’s influence.
Please see MMI’s code of conduct on alcohol in Dubai.
Please, leverage the licence. How’s that? In the words of the British Consulate in the UAE, if caught carrying or drinking alcohol without a licence or with alcohol in your blood, you can be arrested. It is a punishable offence to be under the influence of alcohol in public – including when transiting through the UAE.
Ellie Holman, a Swedish doctor, in 2018, was arrested because she drank a complimentary glass of wine on an Emirates flight to Dubai.