The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country and follows Sharia Law.  Although it is quite lenient, there are stricter laws on alcohol than most people are used to.

Keep this in mind when booking your cheap hotel in Dubai.

This can be a tricky subject for some as alcohol has become such an ingrained part of society in Western cultures, so knowing all you need to know about alcohol in the UAE is an important part of visiting or living here.

The first thing to note is that in every single Emirate, it should be noted that drinking alcohol or being drunk in public is illegal.

There are only certain establishments that are allowed to serve alcohol.

In Abu Dhabi, the legal drinking age is 18 years old however you must be 21 years old to purchase alcohol.

In Dubai, Ajman, Ras Al-Khaimah, Umm Al-Quwain and Fujairah  the legal drinking age is 21 and you must be 21 years old to purchase alcohol.

It is illegal to purchase or drink alcohol at any age in Sharjah.

Emirate Drinking Age Purchasing Age
Abu Dhabi 18 21
Ajman 21 21
Dubai 21 21
Fujairah 21 21
Sharjah Strictly illegal Strictly illegal
Ras Al-Khaimah 21 21
Umm Al-Quwain 21 21

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Residents must be non-Muslim and have a liquor license in order to purchase alcohol for consumption in the home or at any establishments with a liquor license.  You should note that your own liquor license is only valid in your own emirate.

You may only drink alcohol in licensed establishments such as hotels, bars, restaurants and clubs.  Be careful when you are leaving to go home, though, as being drunk in public is a punishable offence under UAE law although almost all alcohol drinking expats continue to do every single day without issue.

Having any amount of alcohol in your system while driving a vehicle is a punishable offence, so be careful even if it’s the next day.  If you get pulled over and the police decide to do a blood alcohol test, you can still be fined or jailed if there is any amount of alcohol in your blood.

You may find that prices for alcohol in the UAE are higher than they are back home.  This is because the alcohol has to be imported and then is taxed quite heavily, so don’t feel you’re being ripped off.  It’s normal to pay that much for a drink, which is why a lot of people opt for brunches with alcohol included.