Complete Guide to Drinking in Dubai (UPDATED 2018)
Drinking in Dubai, yes or no?
As the most open minded of all Emirates in the UAE, Dubai welcomes so many different cultures, religions and people that the Emirate learned to be a little bit softer than others.
Despite what some people might think, Dubai isn't totally a dry emirate, like Sharjah is. Alcohol and drinking in Dubai is more common that you may think! Here is our complete guide to drinking in Dubai.
How to get an alcohol license in Dubai?
According to the UAE law, you is only allowed to drink in hotels and bars and clubs with a license, as long as you are over 21 and a non-Muslim. In order to have alcohol at home, bought from duty-free or an off-license shop, you need to have an alcohol license.
Alcohol licenses are easily sorted, provided you are over 21, not a Muslim, earning more than AED 3,000 and with a residence visa. Simply visit your nearest African + Eastern shop or visit their website to apply online, get the papers stamped by your company and give the papers back to African +Eatern. A couple weeks and AED 270 later, you will be in possession of the Holy Grail, your own alcohol license, allowing you to buy booze in Dubai or in one of the few shops across the UAE.
What does the law say about being drunk in Dubai?
Driving while intoxicated is strictly not allowed, and could result in a fine, jail and even deportation. It’s also illegal to be obviously drunk in public, or drink alcohol in public places, including your building or complex's pool.
This is really important to remember, because no matter how relaxed Dubai may seem, we're guests in this country and need to respect the local laws at all times.
Where can I buy alcohol in Dubai?
No standard grocery shop sells alcohol in Dubai. The only way to get some is either to get it at the duty-free while landing in Dubai, or ask family and friends visiting to do so - up to 4 liters each!- or go out to a club/bar.
You can also go to an off-license shop such as The Cellarin Fujairah. The Cellars is conveniently located in the Tennis Club of Fujairah, only a little more than an hour from Dubai. Bonus point, the booze there is the cheapest you will ever find it in the UAE! We're talking bottles of vodka starting at AED 15 and the like. Even cheaper than duty-free! They also have plenty of bulk offers and promotions to take advantage of.
Remember that if you bring alcohol from the duty free or an off-license shop, technically you still need an alcohol license to have it at home.
What if I want to have a drink in Dubai?
Drinking alcohol in Dubai is allowed at any bar or restaurant owning a license.
Happy hours, ladies night with free flowing beverages and even men's nights are common in Dubai. Happy hours usually run between 4-7, with half prices or complimentary food served. Brunches take place every Friday from 12-4 usually, although we have seen recently a lot of Thursday night brunches or Saturday day brunches by the pool. These are usually free-flowing beverages and a full buffet, so take it easy and do eat the food or you will be in bed by 6pm! More info about the best brunches in Dubai here.
Apart from restaurants in malls, Old Dubai and other places such as The Beach JBR, a lot of high-end restaurants will be offering alcohol on the menu. If in doubt, just ask. Remember that the age to drink in Dubai is 21, and strictly enforced, so don't forget your ID when going out!
Where can I go out and have a drink in Dubai?
There is many bars in Dubai, literally enough to try a different one every weekend!
A majority of bars and alcohol-serving restaurants are part of a hotel, as the alcohol license is only worth it for them as it costs so much to obtain. The expense of obtaining this license results in alcohol prices being extortionate in certain places!
Our personal favourites places to unwind are the Jetty Lounge at the One and Only on the Palm Jumeirah to bring friends over and family, as the view is breathtaking and the cocktails delicious. For a night with friends, we like going to Zero Gravity, a no-frills beach bar near the SkyDive Dubai, or Pier 7 in Dubai Marina for a gorgeous view over the boats for a drink out with friends. If we are in a mood for a great rooftop view, we'd go to 40 Kong, H Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, or Level 43 at the Sheraton.
Note: We are NOT promoting drinking alcohol in this article. Drink with moderation, and be safe!