The new 30-day licence helps to close a legal loophole tourists face when coming here
14 July 2019| Last updated on 14 January 2020
The free alcohol licence for tourists will be available for non-UAE residents who are non-Muslim and under 21 years of age.
In an effort to close a long-standing legal loophole in the emirate, tourists can now obtain a temporary alcohol licence when visiting Dubai.
Until now, only Dubai residents have been able to get a two-year alcohol licence that allows them to buy alcohol from stores like MMI and African + Eastern. Plus, anyone drinking whilst out and about in a bar, restaurant or hotel should technically have a licence, although few establishments ask to see one.
Currently, tourists are fine to drink in hotels and bars during their visit - but if they find themselves in a sticky situation whilst drunk or because of drink, they often find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
As a result, until now, there has been a grey area when it comes to consuming alcohol in Dubai as a visitor.
Now, the new 30-day alcohol licence for tourists will allow them to both purchase alcohol from involved retailers, as well as safely consume alcohol legally whilst visiting various tourist attractions across the city.
Best of all - every licence will be free of cost for all applicants.
It is only open to non-Muslims who are above the legal drinking age of 21.
Retailers MMI and African + Eastern are working with authorities to manage the licence system. Applying visitors only need to present their passport to any store, sign a form stating they are not a UAE resident and that they will abide by the country's rules regarding the consumption of alcohol.
“This is a welcome development that shows that the government in Dubai is open-minded and has respect for other cultures,” said Yousef Al Bahar, a Dubai lawyer who had previously called for the introduction of a temporary alcohol licence.
“Tourists will still have to obey the laws around alcohol just like everyone else. They can’t drink it in public places and will face prosecution if they are driving after having consumed alcohol.”
Several Dubai judges have previously admitted that alcohol laws "forgot about tourists". As a result, the system meant that tourists had no way to buy alcohol legally, though police typically only take action if a drinker is involved in a separate offence.
How to get a tourist alcohol licence in Dubai
Both MMI and African + Eastern have guideliens on their websites, which explain the procedure to obtain your licence. As an overview, here are the steps to take:
- Visit any store with your original passport
- Complete and sign a form confirming you are a tourist, and that you understand the rules and regulations regarding purchasing, transporting and consuming alcohol in Dubai
- You will be issued a code of conduct leaflet with regard to alcohol licence in the UAE
- There is no fee, and you can shop right away
- The tourist liquor licence is open only to visitors who are non-Muslim and above 21 years old
- The Dubai tourist alcohol licence is valid for 30 days only