The UAE is a Muslim country and alcohol is forbidden according to the Sharia Law. However, due to the large number of expats in the UAE, there are provisions for alcohol consumption for non-Muslims. Drinking is allowed within a licensed establishment or private venue.
Residents are required to have alcohol licenses to be allowed to purchase and consume any alcoholic substance (beer, wine, spirits, or liquor). The license allows you to purchase alcohol for personal use only and not for resale or to be brought to any party being they’re reliable if something goes wrong to include serving alcohol in front of minors. Liquor licenses are not available to non-residents and they are only usable in the Emirate that issues it. It’s important to know the legal age for drinking alcohol is 18 in Abu Dhabi, while in Dubai the drinking age is 21. Those on a tourist visa do not need an alcohol license.
How to Get a Liquor License in Abu Dhabi? One used to apply at any liquor store or the police station, but now all applications are online. The website of the Special Licence Office (Log on to www.auhsl.ae) is responsible for issuing alcohol licenses in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Once your liquor license application is approved, and you’ve made the payment (a fee of AED230), you’ll get an e-mail and will be able to collect your permit.
The license is valid for one year and needs to be renewed annually. With an Abu Dhabi Alcohol License, it’s possible to legally have a drink in the UAE capital, transport or keep and store an alcoholic beverage only where it’s legalized. Therefore, it is advisable to carry your license with you at all times. It doesn’t mean however that you can be drunk or drink in public. There are strict rules, definitely enforced, and there is zero tolerance for public drunkenness; and, it’s against the law to walk in the street drinking alcohol.
What’s more, no alcohol must be taken when driving a motor vehicle. Drunk-driving is strictly illegal under the law. Those found with the slightest whiff of alcohol on their breath will find themselves in significant trouble, if pulled over and can face jail, a fine, deportation and confiscation of their car.
Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested. There are cases of alcohol-related arrests for those found under the influence on-board an aircraft accused of misconduct while being intoxicated and other instances when someone was prosecuted for unruly behavior in-flight. UAE airliners are taking proactive actions in prohibiting offensive misbehaviors due to alcohol where such a passenger may be arrested and deported back to their country.
So, it’s against the UAE law to drink alcohol without a license and a person is required to obtain a permit before consuming such beverages. And according to the UAE Alcohol Law of the year 1972, the punishment for alcohol consumption without a drinking license is a maximum of 6 months imprisonment or a maximum of AED 5,000 fine or both punishments. Tourists can purchase alcohol at Duty Free in the airport and consume it in their hotel rooms.