How to get an Alcohol License in Dubai
NOTE: For details on the new rules – updated in 2020, read this article.
It takes about ten seconds to realise that Dubai is not like anywhere else – five if you arrive in peak summer – however, one of the things that continuously surprises visitors and new residents alike are the city’s strict rules surrounding alcohol.
The good news is that whilst Dubai is a Muslim country it appreciates that other religions enjoy a drink, and if you’re over 21 and don’t mind the often-ambitious price tags, you can happily drink in bars, restaurant and hotels. However, things get a little trickier if you want to do it at home. For this, you’ll need a Dubai Liquor License, which allows you to legally buy, transport, store (discreetly), and consume alcohol in your home. To get one you need to be over 21 and a non-Muslim resident of the Emirate who earns a minimum of AED 3000 a month. You can apply online (and strangely sign up with your Facebook account), request hard copies of the form from www.alcohollicensedubai.com, or pick them up at African + Eastern and MMI stores.
After that, all you need to do is get them stamped by your employer, include copies of your passport, residence visa, work contract, tenancy agreement or proof of property ownership, and a recent photograph, along with the fee, (currently AED 270). If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to submit your trade license along with your salary certificate, whilst if you live in shared accommodation, you’ll need a letter from the leaseholder acknowledging that they have no problem with you being licensed, along with a copy of their visa stamped passport. After submitting all of that you should have your license within 2-4 weeks and then it’s off to the shops.
At this point, however, I should also mention that there’s an additional rule for married women, which might cause a touch of outrage. Whilst single women can apply for their own license, married women also require a NOC – a letter of no objection – from their husband giving them permission (don’t shout at the messenger.) With all that done, you can finally head to the shops and enjoy a year of drinking at home in peace before repeating the whole process again next year.
To help, here are just a few of the most commonly asked questions:
I have a license, can I drink outside or in the park?
That would be a resounding no. Dubai law makes it illegal to drink in public, and believe me, they take it seriously.
Can I bring alcohol into Dubai?
Thank the lucky stars, yes. You can bring up to 4 litres of alcohol or 48 cans of beer (max 355 ml per can.) Alternatively, you can stock up at Dubai Duty-Free or Le Clos in the airport on your way in.
What’s the punishment if I’m caught drinking alcohol without a license?
Severe, to say the least. Punishments can include six months in the clink, an AED 5,000 fine and deportation – and possibly all of them.
Do I need to carry it at all times?
That depends on how often you’re planning to drink. However, If you’re caught tipsy in public you will be required to show it.
Ok, I now have one, where can I get alcohol in Dubai?
You’ll find well-stocked branches of African + Eastern and MMI all across the city. You can read this article for more advice on where to buy alcohol in the UAE.