The Essential Things to Know About Buying Alcohol in Dubai

dubai | The Essential Things to Know About Buying Alcohol in Dubai | If you are looking to travel to Dubai this year, you may be confused about whether or not you can drink within the Emirate. In fact, the drinking culture (or lack of it) is one of the biggest misconceptions about Dubai. While the Emirate isn’t a 24/7 party, you are able to drink.  

Due to it being the hub of tourism for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the fact that there is a significant population of expats living in Dubai, the consumption of alcohol is permitted for non-Muslims

However, it is essential to realize that as Dubai is a Muslim city, it follows Sharia Law (the religious legal system for the Islamic faith). This means that while drinking alcohol is allowed, there are nevertheless strict rules that may be different from those of your home country – such as needing to get a license to buy alcohol. 

To ensure you understand the rules before you arrive (and have a great trip), read on for the essential things to know about buying alcohol in Dubai.

1. You must have a purchase permission to buy alcohol. 

In Dubai, the legal drinking age is 21; however, not everyone who is of age is able to buy alcohol and not every establishment is allowed to sell it. If you are looking to purchase alcohol in Dubai, you will need to buy it from an authorized vendor, such as African + Eastern. At one of these stores, you can choose from their extensive portfolio of beer, wine, and spirits, so you are always guaranteed to find the kind of alcohol you want or need when you shop at one of their physical stores which are easy to find. Purchasing alcohol from their website is possible as well, and convenient.

However, to purchase alcohol from one of these stores, you will need to show your original passport and prove you are a tourist on a visit visa.

2. It is simple to get the required license.

As a tourist, you can legally purchase alcohol from any African + Eastern store in Dubai by just following a few simple steps

First, take your original passport to the nearest African + Eastern store (with 17 conveniently located stores across Dubai, you are sure to find it easy to locate one of their stores). You will need to fill in a simple form and sign a declaration stating that you will follow the UAE rules and regulations with regards to alcohol purchase and consumption. After that, you will be able to buy from any of the authorized alcohol retailers in Dubai. 

Keep in mind that this purchase permission is only valid for non-Muslims and people over the age of 21. The process is free of cost for tourists, and the permission is valid for 30 days, after which you can renew it if you are staying in Dubai for a longer period. 

3. You can’t drink in public. 

One of the most important things to know about drinking alcohol in Dubai is that it is illegal to drink in the street or a public space. Dubai is very stringent about public intoxication and, if you are caught, you could end up being sentenced to six months in jail and substantial fines, so make sure to follow the law. Furthermore, keep in mind that additional rules come into effect throughout the holy month of Ramadan

Generally, the only times foreigners get in trouble for being drunk or not obeying alcohol license conditions are when they have drawn too much attention to themselves due to being under the influence. Therefore, you want to make sure that you are staying in control of your drinking and not causing any issues or doing disorderly behavior. The fact that alcohol prices are quite high in Dubai may help you limit your drinking. 

4. Dubai has a zero-tolerance policy for drunk-driving. 

This should be an obvious thing to point out, but it still bears repeating that in Dubai, it is strictly forbidden to drink alcohol and then drive. In the UAE, it is a serious offense to be drunk driving, and if you are caught, you are likely to be put in jail or even be deported. 

Therefore, if you are visiting Dubai, it is highly recommended that you utilize the city’s public transportation options or ride-sharing apps (such as Uber) if you plan on having a drink. There are plenty of transportation options, so there is no need to have your fun night out end with a trip to prison.

Abu Dhabi and the other Emirates in the UAE have similar alcohol-related laws; however, in Sharjah, alcohol is completely illegal. 

Have you ever visited Dubai? Or are you planning a trip to the UAE in the future? Do you have any more questions about purchasing alcohol from a liquor shop in Dubai? Let us know your thoughts and any relevant experiences in the comments below!


Valentina Chessa is the Retail Marketing Manager at African + Eastern, the largest alcohol retailer in the Middle East with a network of 28 stores in the UAE, 5 in Oman, and a team of over 400 professional staff. The company boasts an extensive portfolio of beer, wine and spirits, and customers can shop online or at one of its conveniently located stores.