If you’re a tourist visiting soon, here’s what you should know about drinking laws in Dubai
26 July 2018| Last updated on 14 January 2020
As a tourist visiting Dubai and the UAE, it’s important that you understand the local laws regarding alcohol consumption, to avoid getting into trouble.
When preparing for your trip here, we’re sure you’ve done your research on the UAE’s laws and customs in place across the country. And while Dubai is a must-visit city at the top of a few bucket lists, there’s regulations in place behind the glitz and glamour that as a tourist, you need to be aware of.
To help you prepare and ensure you’re clued-up on Dubai’s alcohol laws, here’s our complete guide to drinking alcohol in Dubai for tourists…
Is alcohol allowed in Dubai?
A lot of people ask the question, why can’t you drink alcohol in Dubai? The answer to that is, yes you can. Provided you follow the regulations in place.
What is the UAE’s laws on drinking alcohol in Dubai?
Dubai’s alcohol laws are governed by UAE Federal Law and the Alcoholic Beverage Control of 1972. This law permits tourists to buy and drink alcohol in licenced venues only, like hotels, restaurants and clubs.
Can tourists buy alcohol in Dubai?
Tourists visiting Dubai are free to purchase alcohol from Dubai Duty Free upon landing, and can also purchase alcohol while in licenced venues across Dubai.
More often than not, licenced restaurants and bars are attached to hotels – except a few private clubs that have special permissions to serve alcoholic beverages.
As of July 2019, tourists can obtain a free alcohol licence after applying at either an MMI or African + Eastern. Find out more, here.
Is there alcohol in Dubai International Airport?
Yes, in selected outlets. There are several bars, restaurants and lounges within DXB itself that you are able to buy alcohol in as a tourist coming to or leaving Dubai.
What is the legal drinking age in Dubai?
To drink alcohol in Dubai, the legal drinking age is 21 years old. Any younger than this and you will be refused service in a licenced outlet.
The legal drinking age across all emirates, except Sharjah, is 21 years old. Alcohol is banned completely in Sharjah.
Is alcohol served in Dubai hotels?
Most, but not all, hotels in Dubai serve alcohol in their restaurants and bars. Although, it is not uncommon to come across a dry-restaurant or a dry-hotel… So make sure to do your research and double check the hotel’s policies on alcohol before booking!
Is alcohol served in Dubai restaurants?
Some, not all, restaurants in Dubai serve alcohol – they must have a licence in place, and may be attached to a hotel or be a private club.
Can you bring alcohol to Dubai in your luggage?
We advise against bringing alcohol in your checked-in luggage; you risk having your luggage searched by customs upon arrival, but that can be a rare occurrence.
It’s better to instead use your Dubai Duty Free allowance upon arrival, which is, per person:
- A maximum of 4 litres of alcohol, OR
- 2 cartons of beer (each consisting of 24 cans, not exceeding 355ml for each can or its equivalent)
You can find out more information about what you can bring into Dubai while travelling here.
Why are brunches popular in Dubai?
There are hundreds of buffets with alcohol in Dubai and Friday brunches are an expat institution. In fact, some would argue a Friday brunch in Dubai is a must-do experience for tourists visiting Dubai.
Many Friday brunches in Dubai last between 3 to 4 hours on a Friday afternoon every week, and for a set price, you can drink all the alcohol and eat all of the food that you can manage. Albeit expensive, you can quite easily make your money back on food and drink.
For more information and answers you may have to questions about drinking alcohol in Dubai, we recommended heading to our information forum to ask residents living in Dubai your queries.