Dubai has ended its 30% tax on alcohol sales and made liquor licenses free to obtain for those over the age of 21 in an effort to boost tourism. The decision, which was announced by state-linked alcohol retailers on New Year’s Day, follows years of loosening regulations on alcohol in the emirate. Alcohol sales have long been an important indicator of the economy in Dubai, a popular tourist destination in the United Arab Emirates.
However, government officials did not immediately acknowledge the decision and did not respond to questions from The Associated Press. The move follows years of loosening regulations on alcohol in the emirate, which now sells alcohol during daylight hours in Ramadan and began providing home delivery during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Under Dubai law, non-Muslims must be 21 or older to consume alcohol. Drinkers are required to carry plastic cards issued by the Dubai police that permit them to purchase, transport, and consume beer, wine, and liquor. These permits, known as alcohol licences, are now free to obtain for those who are eligible to legally purchase alcoholic beverages in Dubai. A valid Emirates ID or passport (for tourists) will still be required to apply for an alcohol licence.
The decision to end the tax on alcohol sales and make liquor licenses free comes as Dubai looks to boost its tourism industry. Alcohol has long been an important part of the emirate’s hospitality industry, with bars and nightclubs drawing visitors from around the world. The move to make alcohol more accessible is expected to attract even more tourists to Dubai, which is home to the long-haul carrier Emirates.
However, it’s worth noting that Dubai’s relatively liberal approach to alcohol is not shared by all parts of the region. Sharjah, an emirate that borders Dubai to the north, prohibits alcohol, as do the nearby nations of Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. In September 2020, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, also ended its alcohol license system. Despite these restrictions, Dubai has remained a popular destination for tourists, particularly those looking to experience the city’s nightlife and vibrant dining scene.