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August 08, 2011|
Know your rights: 5 criminal laws every Dubai expat should know.
With the aim to provide updated legal advice in a clear and readable way for expats living in Dubai and the Middle East, here we set out your rights when it comes to alcohol and licensing. It is important to note that the penalties for breaching any of the following licensing laws is a jail term and can be combined with deportation in some cases.
If you are a Muslim expatriate, drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden in any circumstance.
If you are non-Muslim, you may only consume alcohol if you personally hold an alcohol license. You should keep this license with you at all times. The license is granted by the police licensing authorities in the Emirate in which you live. The alcohol license will allow you to purchase alcohol up to a percentage of your monthly salary.
Even if you hold an alcohol license, you should only drink alcohol in your own home or a licensed restaurant or bar. It is against the law to consume alcohol or have alcohol in your system if you are not in your own home or in a licensed venue. Whilst this law is usually only enforced in conjunction with another crime, expatriates should still be careful, considerate and courteous whilst traveling from venue to venue on an evening out.
Alcohol should only be purchased in the Emirate in which the expatriate holds an alcohol license. It is therefore against the law for an expatriate residing in Dubai to purchase alcohol from liquor suppliers in Ras Al Khaimah.
There is zero tolerance laws for expatriates drink driving in the UAE. This means that you may have no alcohol in your system whilst driving. Alcohol can take up to 48 hours to leave your system. Take this into account when driving the day after a night out.
Before the changes affected by Federal Decree-Law No. 15/2020 and subsequently by Federal Decree-Law No. 31/2021 on the Issuance of the Crimes and Penalties Law (the UAE Penal Code), it was illegal to consume alcohol without a valid permit.
According to Article 363, no punishment may be imposed for drinking, possessing, or trading in alcohol in the cases and locations permitted according to applicable legislation. Each Emirate shall have the right to regulate the use, circulation, trading in, and possession of alcoholic beverages.
For the emirate of Dubai, the following rules apply:
Abu Dhabi's Culture and Tourism Department has announced it has revoked its licensing system for buying alcohol.
It is also critical to understand that the new changes in the right context, especially, that each emirate has its own rules, and if there is a local law of a given emirate that prohibits the consumption of alcohol then, the said local laws would apply instead of the Federal laws in such instances. For instance, the emirate of Sharjah, has local laws in place that have been in effect for decades which specifically criminalizes the consumption of alcohol in the said emirate and have not been revoked yet.
Federal Decree-Law No. 31/2021 introduces significant changes to fines and penalties related to alcohol-related offenses.
In accordance with the recent amendment to Article 49(6) of Federal Law No. 21/1995 (Traffic Law)
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