Dubai moots license to drink within sensible limits

Published:  23 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: Dubai, UAE
A Dubai lawyer’s message to expats over the festive season suggests that licenses to drink legally should be given at the airport, but stresses it’s not a licence to get wasted in public.

In an interview with a UAE business newspaper, Emirati lawyer Yousef Ali Baher said that visitors to Dubai who drink alcohol in hotel bars are unknowingly breaking the law. Although tourists are allowed to consume alcoholic drinks in the emirate’s five star restaurants and hotel bars, it’s only a legal loophole which prevents their arrest and imprisonment.

The law states it is illegal for tourists to buy alcohol without a license, but licenses are only issued to non-Muslims who are UAE residents. Should trouble occur and the police get involved, unsuspecting expat visitors could find themselves behind bars for a crime they were unaware of having committed.

It has to be said that the majority of expats in the UAE are familiar with the subtleties of drinking in the emirate and the culture which supports them. Dubai’s neighbouring UAE states are far less tolerant of alcohol, and the Dubai expat community understandably doesn’t want to rock the boat.

It’s also well-known that being drunk in a public place is an arrestable offence, and that there’s zero tolerance shown to drunk drivers. Less well known is the fact that, if a drunk annoys a taxi driver, he will be driven straight to the nearest police station and handed in.

During the countdown to the Christmas celebrations, the British Embassy mounted a campaign warning Brits to drink circumspectly. The Dubai government also issued an official warning that alcohol abuse over the holiday season will not be tolerated.

Ali Baher’s suggestion is in line with Dubai’s latest project to allow tourists to rent villas with self-catering facilities as holiday homes. It’s to be hoped that, if licenses are given, they come with guidelines on the requirement to drink without causing offence by getting seriously drunk.
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