Dubai scraps alcohol tax in further relaxing of booze laws

Dubai has scrapped its 30% alcohol tax and will stop charging for personal alcohol licences.

This latest move comes after Dubai previously allowed the sale of alcohol in daylight hours during Ramadan and approved home delivery during the Covid pandemic.

The two companies which distribute alcohol in Dubai, Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI), and African & Eastern, said they would reflect the cut in tax for consumers.

“Since we began our operations in Dubai over 100 years ago, the Emirate’s approach has remained dynamic, sensitive and inclusive for all,” MMI spokesman Tyrone Reid told AP. “These recently updated regulations are instrumental to continue ensuring the safe and responsible purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Dubai and the UAE.”

Commentators say the move is thought to be an attempt to make the city more attractive to foreigners in the face of competition from neighbours.

Non-Muslim residents in Dubai must be at least 21 years old to drink, transport or store alcohol at home and have an alcohol licence.

UAE Residents can drink alcohol at home and in licensed venues. Liquor licences are no longer required for residents in Abu Dhabi and other Emirates (save for Emirate of Sharjah) to purchase alcohol for personal consumption.

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Previously in Dubai, tourists were able to obtain a temporary liquor licence for the duration of a month from the two official liquor distributors in Dubai. Tourists were provided with a code of conduct document and were asked to confirm they understand rules and regulations in relation to purchasing, transporting and consuming liquor in Dubai.

Liquor licences are not available to non-residents in the other Emirates, but it is possible for tourists and visitors to buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs.

However, it is a punishable offence under UAE law to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public. British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law, often in cases where they have come to the attention of the police for a related offence, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour.

Generally, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 18 in Abu Dhabi, but a Ministry of Tourism by-law prevents hotels from serving alcohol to those under the age of 21. In Dubai and all other emirates besides Sharjah, the drinking age is 21.

Drinking alcohol in Sharjah is illegal.

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