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Obtaining an alcohol beverage consumption license in the UAE

Article image: Obtaining an alcohol beverage consumption license in the UAE

The Quran strictly forbids Muslims from consuming alcoholic beverages. Although this restriction does not apply to non-Muslim foreign tourists, one can purchase alcohol to take away, and transport it only if he has a special license. In other words, you can drink alcohol in bars, restaurants, and clubs of the UAE, but to you need a license to buy it in the store.

By the way, when consuming alcohol, even beer, on the beach, in a park or other public place you risk a significant penalty (over $1000) or imprisonment for up to 5 years. Driving under the influence is serious violation with unpleasant consequences.

As to the buying alcohol - the exception is some special stores in the Emirates of Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman. There you can buy alcoholic beverages without a license.

How to obtain an alcoholic beverage consumption license in the United Arab Emirates?

First and foremost, it should be noted that the license is issued only to residents (tourists cannot obtain it). There is a mandatory condition to obtain a license: the minimum monthly income of the resident should exceed 2.5 thousand dirhams (about $700) in Abu Dhabi, and 2 thousand dirhams (over $500) in Dubai.

There are also limits on the amount of money that can be spent on the purchase of alcoholic beverages per month. In Abu Dhabi it is up to 20%, in Dubai the amount depends on the earnings and range from 500 to 1.5 thousand dirham. The amount of money spent on alcohol is fixed by means of the chip in the license card. The license is automatically blocked if the maximum allowed amount of money is exceeded. Besides, the UAE police reserves the right to set individual limits for purchasing alcohol and either allow or prohibit transportation of alcoholic beverages.

An “alcohol” license is issued for the period of 1 year. If desired, its validity can be also applied to a spouse. You can apply for the license at any shop that sells alcohol. If you work as an employed person in the UAE, then you will be required to provide an employer's consent (no objection letter for issuing a license) in addition to the residence visa. If you are non-Muslim, there will be no problems with getting this permission. The employers rarely express their objections on this issue (unless you are working in a public institution owned by the family of Sheikh).

A few words about how to find shops selling alcohol beverages in the UAE. Alcohol is never sold in supermarkets, but there are usually "alcohol" shops close to them. However, it is rather difficult to find them as there are no bright signboards and the entrance is somewhere in an inconspicuous corner.

After buying alcohol, never carry it in your hands or in transparent bags, and drink it only at home!

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