UAE legal reforms: Do I need a licence to consume alcohol?

Each Emirate is empowered to frame its own regulations for consumption, possession and dealing with and trading in alcoholic beverages



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by

Ashish Mehta

Published: Sun 2 Jan 2022, 10:47 AM

Question: As per the recent legal reforms adopted in the UAE, can you explain the new laws around the alcohol licensing system? Do I still need a licence to consume alcoholic drinks?

Answer: In 2020, Article 313 of the Federal Law No 3 of 1987 on the Issuance of the Penal Law of the UAE, was amended entirely by Federal Decree Law No 15 of 2020, and some leniency was introduced in terms of consumption, possession or trading in alcoholic drinks. The provisions of the said Article 313 (as amended) read as follows:

“Article (313) Bis

  • There shall be no punishment for consuming, possession or trading in alcohol drinks in situations and at places allowed as per the applicable legislations.
  • Subject to (1) of this Article, each Emirate shall regulate consuming, possession, dealing with and trading in alcohol drinks.
  • Whoever provides or sells alcohol drinks to any person of less than 21 years of age or purchases them with the objective of provision to such person shall be subject to the punishments of incarceration and a fine of no less than Dh100,000 and no more than Dh500,000, or any of the two punishments. Whoever does any of the said actions after verifying that the age of the person to whom alcohol drinks are provided or sold is no less than 21 years according to his passport or any other official identification shall not be guilty of his crime.”

Following the aforesaid provisions, each Emirate in the UAE is empowered to frame its own regulations for consumption, possession and dealing with and trading in alcoholic beverages.

For instance, in Dubai, one would still require a licence to legally purchase alcoholic beverages from authorised outlets. Therefore, you may contact the competent authorities in your Emirate for further clarifications in this regard.


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