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Know Your Rights: 5 Laws Every Dubai Expat Should Know

Alcohol & Licensing

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.

1) If you are a Muslim expatriate, drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden in any circumstance.

2) If you are non-Muslim, you may only consume alcohol if you personally hold an alcohol licence. 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.

3) 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 be still be careful, considerate and courteous whilst traveling from venue to venue on an evening out.

4) 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.

5) 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 in to account when driving the day after a night out.

Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultancy is licensed to perform legal services and advocacy in all courts of the UAE, reaching out to local and expatriate clients. Our strong practice areas are family law, labor, corporate & commercial, private equity, banking, maritime & transport, litigation & arbitration and real estate. Visit our website or contact the Expatriate Law division at

One Response to “Know Your Rights: 5 Laws Every Dubai Expat Should Know”

  1. Manny says:

    What if I buy alcohol from Duty Free? And I don’t have a license, will I be arrested for that?

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