The Latest Alcohol Rules For Tourists In Dubai After Government Reduces Prices


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Trips to Dubai just got cheaper for travelers who enjoy a drink on vacation with the government removing its 30% municipality tax on alcohol sales. The country has also removed its AED 270 (US$73) fee for liquor licenses that allow people to buy alcohol to drink at home. The reduction in fees and taxes has gone into effect now and will be trialed for a year.

Major alcohol purveyors are already celebrating the news on their social channels, instantly reflecting the new pricing on their stock in-stores but are caveating that the 5% VAT fee will still apply.

Drinking Caipirinha cocktail in Dubai in souk madinat jumeirah outside in a bar

“You no longer need to make trips across the country to stock up on your favourite drinks. With the removal of 30% municipality tax and FREE alcohol licence, buying your favourite drinks is now easier and cheaper than ever!” said MMI Dubai, a major purveyor of alcohol, on its Instagram.

This move is expected to boost the appeal of Dubai as a destination for tourists and digital nomads, to compete with its neighboring countries that also carry hefty taxes on alcohol. Tourism is an important income stream for Dubai, with tourist numbers growing more than 180% in the first half of 2022, compared to the same time period a year prior, while new establishments are constantly popping up to meet this demand.

Modern skyscrapers and water channel with boats of Dubai Marina at sunset, United Arab Emirates

Do I Need A Liquor License To Drink At My Accommodation?

For tourists staying in hotels, the answer is NO.

Tourists that are staying in private accommodations like rentals or Airbnb’s will have different rules if they are looking to buy bottles to bring home. Tourists can apply for a free 30-day license to purchase alcohol, which is a simplified process that you can do at two of the main purveyors of alcohol in Dubai – MMI and African + Eastern. You just need to be at least 21 years of age and will need to bring your passport and a valid visitor visa to the store to obtain the license.

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Woman in a liquor store shopping for wine. Taken at Town Square, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Where Can I Buy Alcohol?

MMI and African + Eastern are the two main legally operated liquor stores in Dubai and collectively have almost 40 stores in Dubai, which stock the most popular wines, spirits, and beer brands.

Tourists also have access to the Legal Home Delivery service, which is the only legal alcohol delivery service in Dubai operated by MMI and African + Eastern. This service means you can avoid going into the store and opt for delivery to your accommodation instead, which is available 7 days per week between 10 am and 10 pm.

The system doesn’t currently offer same-day delivery, so you will need to order before 12 pm to get next-day delivery and order a minimum of UAE 150 (US$40). Currently, there is no limit set by law on how much alcohol you can purchase, as long as you have a liquor license to purchase it.

Duty free store Johnnie Walker alcohol company for duty-free operations at International Airport.

Where Can I Drink Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol is restricted to certain locations that are considered legal. This includes your residence or accommodation, and in licensed venues around the city.

Dubai, UAE People lounging near food trucks at the Food Truck Jam, a weekend event with food trucks and live music at the Emirates Golf Club. Dubai Media City in the backdrop.

Alcohol is not widely served in Dubai due to its Muslim population and Islamic laws, so you can only drink at officially licensed establishments such as hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs that are targeted toward expats and tourists. It is recommended by the Embassy of the UAE not to ask for alcohol if it isn’t on the menu. If you come across locations with signs saying “dry,” this means they do not serve alcohol.

Dubai’s clubs normally kick into gear around 10am and close around 3am, with alcohol service stopping at around 1 am, but each location has its own schedule.

Dubai, UAE Beautiful beach bar overlooking the Burj Al Arab Hotel.

Is Alcohol Expensive In Dubai?

A wide range of alcohol is served in Dubai, but it typically comes with a larger price tag than home. Drinking alcohol in Dubai is considered a privilege, but the recent removal of the 30% of tax should make it more attractive for tourists.

Some remain skeptical that these savings will be passed on when drinking on-site at bars and restaurants. According to The Washington Post, a pint of Budweiser costs about $13 at a hotel bar close to Dubai airport, while Legal Home Delivery advertises prices for a 1L of Absolut Vodka at UAS 191 (US $52), while wines start from UAE 22 (US $6), excluding 5% VAT tax.

Atlantis, The Palm Hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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