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Drinking Age in United Arab Emirates

As with most Muslim countries, the United Arab Emirates does not have alcohol for sale legally anywhere in the country for Muslims. If you wish to purchase alcohol, you will need to have a license stating that you are not Muslim. You will be able to buy it at most hotels once you show your liquor license, having identification that shows you are not from the Emirates will not be enough. The legal age for you to get a license is 21.

Drinking in UAE

Once you have a license, you will be allowed to buy and drink alcoholic beverages. It is only sold at hotel bars and you will not be allowed to give a drink to anyone else as they might not have a license themselves. You will find that although the residents do not drink, every type of alcohol is available so you do not have to worry about changing you drinking habits. Keep in mind that public drinking or intoxication is illegal.

Bringing Alcohol into the Emirate

As long as you have the proper license, you will be allowed to purchase alcohol at the duty-free stores to bring with you. There are some Emirates that do allow alcohol no matter whether you have a license or not so it is best to check before crossing any borders. The Emirate of Sharjah as well as any with the Sultanate of Oman or Saudi Arabia strictly forbid alcohol; there are others and some that are changing the law so be careful.

Drinking and the Police

A license may give you permission to buy alcohol and to drink it in a bar or restaurant in a hotel, once you leave the drinking establishment, the license means nothing. If you are demonstrating any signs that you have been drinking, you can and will be arrested. Even if you are not creating any trouble, the fact that you have been drinking will be enough. If you are in a car and driving, any alcohol on your breath is cause for arrest. There is no blood alcohol limit, and there is no tolerance for driving after drinking. Arrest in this case will come with jail time. There is no way to get out of spending anywhere from one to six months in prison.

When you travel to the UAE, think long and hard about drinking alcohol. The people who live there do not drink so unless you want to drink alone, you will need to find other travelers to join. If you are there on business, you would not want to damage the business relationship by drinking. If you are there as a tourist and trying to experience the Emirates, drinking gives you a false impression of the way of life there. It is best to leave your drinking habits at home and just live the way life is expected while there. You will be better off in case there is a situation that involves the police and will not forget other customs that can get you in trouble.




1 Comment

  1. Duneman says:

    Your info on the UAE is inaccurate. The Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi do permit alcohol. In Abu Dhabi a license is only required to purchase at liquor stores for home use. Guests ARE permitted to drink in your home but they should take a taxi home. When drinking at a hotel or restaurant, retain your recepts until you are back in your room as they are evidence of legal alcohol consumption. You are correct the there is zero tolerance for DUI or public intoxication. The police here will be as polite as you are and I have seen the Abu Dhabi police give people rides home when the person was being polite. Please note, the numerous drunken tourists have made the Dubai police a lot less tolerant.


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