When visiting a foreign country, knowing what is legal and what is illegal is vital. With Dubai attracting more and more tourists, it’s important they are aware of what they can and cannot do when it comes to drinking alcohol.
It is against the law to drink alcohol in public places. Police can be called on any acts of disorderly behavior and question those regardless of high levels of alcohol use. To enhance safety of the community as a whole, all those responsible for drunkenness offences and public order offences involving alcohol will be arrested and detained – for their own safety and the safety of others.
The legal drinking age to consume or purchase alcoholic beverages is 21-years old. This law applies to tourists as well residents or expats.
There is no tolerance for driving after drinking, and those who are caught will be arrested and serve jail time (one to six months). One can expect to pay a fine ranging from Dhs1,000 to Dhs2,000. Offenders will have negative points on their driving license, possible confiscation, and might be required to take a road safety course before being allowed back on the road. Further details can be found at RoadSafetyUAE.com.
The UAE does not have a legal blood-alcohol limit, which means the allowed Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is zero percent.
If you intend to drink, you must plan properly:
• Do it responsibly and only consume alcohol where it is permitted; public intoxication is illegal
• No driving under the influence; take a taxi or have a designated driver
• Be aware of UAE’s zero-tolerance policy and BAC limits (0.00 – ZT)
• Do not take any risks, as punishments and penalties for doing so can be severe
• Remember: the legal drinking age is 21; an ID will be required to prove age
It is a punishable offense to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public, so knowledge of these rules by tourists is very important. However, they will not have any problems in licensed venues, though residents need a permit to be able to drink in them. Alcohol consumption is only permitted in certain designated areas, such as licensed restaurants and bars attached to hotels. Once you leave the drinking establishment, however all pertinent laws immediately apply.
The Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi do permit alcohol consumption, but their stringent laws regarding alcoholic licenses may affect tourism, so lawyers and judges are calling for changes to the UAE laws concerning alcohol. Presently, a separate liquor license is required for each Emirate and is only issued to people who possess current UAE residency permits and who are non-Muslim. Those with an alcohol license are permitted to buy alcohol at licensed bottle shops and consume it at home.
For now, clearly, the UAE’s legal rules concerning the sale, transportation and consumption of alcohol ought to be followed by tourists and visitors. As with most Muslim countries, rules forbid alcohol drinkers appearing to be drunk in public. It is also illegal to sell or offer alcoholic drinks to Muslims. So, unless something changes, when in the UAE, it may be best to leave drinking habits behind and abide by the UAE alcohol laws in full.