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Can you drink on holiday in Dubai?

Dubai holidays are always popular, thanks to endless adventure and amazing attractions. Warm weather, beautiful landscapes, iconic architecture and the world's best restaurants all make for a destination that offers something for everyone.

Of course, a popular activity for holidaymakers all over the world is relaxing in a bar near the beach, listening to the sea as you enjoy a drink with your loved ones, or heading out for a cocktail to listen to music of an evening.

But can you drink in Dubai? Many people are nervous or apprehensive about drinking alcohol in the United Arab Emirates due to Islamic law and beliefs. Here's the ultimate guide to drinking in Dubai on holiday...

Drinking in the United Arab Emirates

Some people think that because Dubai is a Muslim country, that there must be very strict laws on drinking and alcohol consumption. While there are certain customs you should be aware of in the city, it is possible to drink on a Dubai holiday. However, there are some rules and restrictions that holiday goers should be aware of.

Enjoying drinks on a sunny Dubai beach

What's the legal drinking age in Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates?

The legal age for drinking alcohol differs across the different regions of the UAE. For example, in Abu Dhabi, the minimum age is 18, while the legal drinking age in Dubai is 21. It is also 21 in the Northern Emirates, except for Sharjah where drinking alcohol is illegal entirely.

Where can tourists drink in Dubai?

In Dubai, alcoholic drinks are only served in venues with a valid license - for example hotels, bars, restaurants and clubs. It is also a punishable offence to drink and even being under the influence of alcohol in public. This includes time on the beach or walking between venues.

Can you drink alcohol in Dubai during Ramadan?

Dubai is a Muslim country, and as such Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr and other Islamic holy days are observed. While you should always be respectful and conscious of the local culture in Dubai, there are some other things to be aware of during the holy month, which you can learn more about in our guide to visiting Dubai during Ramadan.

Where can I buy alcohol in Dubai?

You can purchase alcoholic drinks - provided you're over 21 - in any venue with a proper alcohol license. So, for example, you can order a glass of wine with dinner at a restaurant, or enjoy a nightcap cocktail in your hotel's bar.

You can't buy alcohol from an off-licence or shop as a tourist. Residents in Dubai can apply for a state-issued licence which allows them to buy alcohol for consumption at home. These rules are being reassessed however, and Dubai authorities hope to allow visitors to buy alcohol from registered shops.

Cocktails on the beach

Image: Adam Jaime, Unsplash

So, the answer to “can you drink on holiday in Dubai?” is a yes. However, it is important to be aware of the country’s laws and to be respectful of them while you are visiting on your holiday. The most important thing is to relax and have fun, so make sure that happens.