What you need to know about drinking in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country that follows the rule of Sharia Law. Therefore, drinking is strictly forbidden. Due to the large population of expats living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, drinking is allowed for non-Muslims but with some conditions that should be respected. Drinking alcohol in Sharjah is illegal.

Resident expats and tourists are allowed to drink only in licensed bar hotels, private clubs and restaurants. These are considered free zones. Nevertheless, it is advisable to drink with moderation and avoid getting drunk. You should be aware that it is a punishable offence under UAE law to be under the influence of alcohol in public.

Therefore, you have to go out from such places only if you are sober. Dubai is really very strict about public drunkenness and has zero tolerance for drinking and driving. You are not allowed to carry out and drink any alcohol on the beach, streets or any other open places. Drinking is strictly forbidden outside and any infringements of the law will be punished. Being drunk in public can lead to sentences of six months in jail and heavy fines.

In case of a car crash, rowdy behaviour or any other offence you will come to the attention of police which will submit you to the alcohol test.

Residents in Dubai over the age of 21, can purchase alcohol in exclusive stores and require a license. In Abu Dhabi the legal age for drinking alcohol is 18. The licences are valid only in the Emirate that issued the licence. Residents must also get a permit to be able to drink in licensed venues. Tourists are allowed to buy alcohol at Duty Free in the airport and bring it back to their hotel and consume it only in their room.

Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.

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