Alcohol Costs in Dubai
Great news if you are traveling to the UAE! Contrary to popular belief, you can actually drink a beer or a glass of wine in Dubai! However, if you want to have a drink it’s going to be expensive, and I’m here to tell you just why that is.
Why is alcohol so expensive in Dubai? It’s simple: the local government places high taxes on alcoholic beverages. As the tourist hub of the United Arab Emirates, government officials realize that there is serious money to be made from the sale of alcohol to visitors.
No big deal, right? Well, even though you can drink like a king in Dubai, there are tips and tidbits that any traveler to the area needs to know. Keep reading to learn more!
Alcohol is Restricted in Dubai
It’s true that alcohol is highly taxed in Dubai, and the simple reason is because the government can make a pretty penny from that revenue. There are complexities, though, and a little history behind why people might thinking drinking isn’t allowed in there in the first place.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that the UAE is an Islamic nation. Part of the religion of Islam is Sharia Law, and it is the law of the land in Dubai. For Muslim citizens, this means alcohol is illegal, and possession or consumption can lead to severe penalties.
Luckily for you, though, travelers to the UAE are allowed to drink to their heart’s content… within reason. You see, there are restrictions on tourist’s consumption too.
Not only is alcohol highly taxed in Dubai, but sale and consumption in public is limited to licensed liquor outlets. No running to the corner store and buying a 6-pack for the front porch! If you’re going to have a drink in Dubai, it has to be at one of their recognized public venues.
It’s not just vendors who have to be licensed, either. Any resident who wants to purchase alcohol in Dubai has to have a license too. Actually, hotel bars and restaurants are the only places where visitors don’t need licenses, which are only available for those residing in Dubai.
What Could Happen If You Break the Rules?
Believe me, you don’t want to even think about taking a drink outside in Dubai! If you get caught, you’ll almost certainly be arrested and jailed, with deportation being the likely result.
If you think you can get away with it, think again! The police in Dubai like to hang out around public drinking spots undercover, dressed as civilians, lying in wait to catch unsuspecting lawbreakers in the act. I suppose they have nothing else to do!
That’s not all you should know, though. The police in Dubai take this very seriously, and if you are charged with drunk and disorderly conduct, that’s another way to get arrested and sent on the first flight back to your home country. Just make sure you pace yourself when savoring sumptuous cocktails from a restaurant or hotel bar!
Speaking of Cocktails…
As it happens, the drinks in Dubai are no joke. This place attracts some of the ritziest tourists in the world, so they know how to bring their A-game when it comes to crafting cocktails and offering fantastic selections. Hotel bars and restaurants in Dubai have especially fine mixed drinks, with some of the most premium liquors and wines on the planet, as well as amazing bartenders.
If you love a great cocktail, and you have the money, you’ll certainly not be disappointed in Dubai! You may be asking, though, “What if I want to drink for less?” I will tell you how, because it just so happens that there are tricks to having a cheaper drink.
Ways to Drink for Less
Everybody wants to get the most out of their vacation, and that includes value in food and drink. Luckily, there are a few ways to access cheaper alcohol in Dubai. Be sure to take advantage of these valuable tips to maximize your trip!
● Airport Duty-Free You may have noticed duty-free stores in airports if you travel frequently. These are stores where visitors can purchase goods without paying customs duty (a tax on imported goods). The duty-free store at Dubai International Airport offers a surprising selection of liquor, wine, and beer. Plus, this is one of the few places in Dubai where you can legally purchase alcohol without a license, making it great for tourists who want to save money on their booze. According to Dubai Customs, you can take up to 4 liters of alcohol into the country without paying duty, but watch out! Keep your receipt and bring your liquor straight to the hotel, because if the police catch you with alcohol outside of a public place, you’ll have to prove you just purchased it and you’re transporting it to your place!
● Free House Wine There are restaurants in Dubai that offer promotions on a weekly basis, including buffet deals. Some restaurants even have a buffet option every night, and many offer a free glass of house wine when you purchase the buffet. If you’re just looking to have a glass of wine with dinner, then you might as well have it for free!
● All You Can Drink This is for those of you who would prefer to have a little dinner with your drinks instead of the other way around. You can find all-you-can-drink deals in the form of bar promotions and brunch deals. Pay a high flat rate for pizza night and get bottomless drinks as a bonus!
● Happy Hours and Brunches Happy hour times vary depending on the bar. Anything from half price to all you can drink deals. There’s something for everyone, and you can either shop around or ask the locals for the best happy hour deals in your part of town. Brunches are popular throughout Dubai as well, and they often feature great cocktail deals.
● Ladies’ and Gents’ Nights Tuesday is usually ladies’ night, and some places even have a Monday men’s night. Ladies drink free because these venues are looking to be the place at which everyone to spend their weekday nights on the town!
Drinking During Ramadan
The fact that Dubai is under Sharia Law doesn’t just mean that the regulations on drinking are strict. If you travel to the city during Ramadan, and Islamic holy month in which practicing Muslims fast and pray, then you’ll have to be extra careful about your conduct. Don’t draw attention to yourself by making a ruckus in public, don’t play loud music, don’t smoke on the street and, as always, definitely don’t drink outside in public.
● Is there a limit to how much I can drink in Dubai? There is no specific limit to the amount of alcoholic beverages you’re allowed to drink, but there are laws about public behavior. As long as you make sure to control yourself and don’t get too drunk, you can have fun without worries.
● Can I drink in my hotel room or a friend’s house? Tourists are allowed to drink in their hotel rooms, but the beverage must stay inside the room. When drinking in Dubai, you must do so either in the designated public areas or in your room. As for enjoying a brew at your friend’s place, it’s technically not allowed unless your friend is a resident with an alcohol license.
● How bad is it if I am arrested for drinking in public? If you are arrested for drinking or being drunk while out in public, you’ll be jailed for days, or maybe even weeks, before getting a court hearing. Drinking and driving is totally prohibited with zero tolerance. The penalties for these offenses are harsh, but situation dependent, and include lengthy imprisonment, high fines, deportations, and even as much as physical tortures for some violators.
● How can I find the best places for good/cheap drinks? Living in the age of the internet, there is an information supermarket fully stocked with answers to any of our questions. If you Google it, you’ll find lots of sites that list some of the best spots to drink in Dubai. Whether you are looking for value deals or handcrafted premium beverages, there is something for everyone.
Of course, nothing beats hearing it from the locals. When visiting Dubai, if you meet a drinker, be sure to ask them what their favorite spots to relax and have a drink are. They might even know a few clubs you can visit, but the truth is that nightclubs are generally quite a bit more expensive than other venues. Ask around, and you’ll be sure to hear local stories about the best bartenders and tastiest mixed drinks in Dubai.
● Are tourists forbidden from drinking during Ramadan? The only people forbidden from drinking under Sharia Law in Dubai are Muslims, and that includes during Ramadan. Non-Muslim visitors may consume alcohol, but should also be careful to observe the proper manners in respect of the religious holiday that the broader culture observes during this time.