Is it legal to drink in UAE ? Can i buy beer in Dubai and do i need a permit to visit bars in Abu Dhabi?
It can be confusing for tourists and expats to know how to understand the alcohol laws in the United Arab Emirates. But it’s all very easy and relative liberal. Laws have been eased as well and there is no need to get a license to drink as was required before. In Abu Dhabi, you can buy and drink as long as you are over 21 years old and non muslim but in Dubai you might need a permit to buy alcohol in a shop but no permit is required when visiting bars and restaurants.
All tourists in Dubai can buy and consume alcohol without any permit. Since late 2020 there is no permits at all in Abu Dhabi. There are different rules through out the Emirates but as a tourist you are exempted from most of it. But there are a few things to think about. Don’t carry alcohol open in the street or drink in public. You can still enjoy beer and wine at many restaurants and bars outside but sitting and drinking in parks and on the streets is not allowed.
Where can i buy beer in the UAE ?
There are more than 20 shops selling alcohol in Abu Dhabi as well as in Dubai and most of them are open from 09.00 until late. Beer prices are slightly more expensive than in the US or UK. Wine is often much more expensive and standard wines from Jacobs creek and Torres for example tend to cost almost the double. For 5 AED you can get a 5 % lager beer, 6 AED for a Leffe or Tsingtao wheat/IPA bottle. Any wine with ok taste costs at least 30 AED but vodka/gin/rum is affordable. This blog is focused on Abu Dhabi but check on The Tasting Class guide to alcohol shops in Dubai.
The number of bars and restaurants selling beer and other drinks is high and most bars has at least four beers on tap. There is even craft beer available at some places and many shops sell craft beers from Brewdog, Sierra Nevada and many French and Belgian breweries.
There are plenty of cheap beers on 8 and 12 %, most of them taste terrible but are widely consumed by guest workers and beer tasters. The famous Red horse from the Philippines can be found anywhere.
Sometimes you can also find some nicer beers for ok prices but craft beers are often 15-35 AED each which is a bit steep.