Tourists in Dubai are able to buy alcohol from shops for the first time, thanks to new measures introduced to make the city more visitor-friendly.
Holidaymakers could previously only purchase and consume drinks at licensed venues like hotels and restaurants.
It’s now possible for non-Muslim visitors over the age of 21 to buy alcohol from any Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI) or African and Eastern liquor store in the city.
Visitors will need a licence to purchase alcohol from these shops, but it’s free of charge and can be obtained by applying on arrival in Dubai at any participating store.
The process requires tourists to supply their passport, fill out a short form and sign an official declaration stating that they are not a UAE resident and agreeing to abide by the UAE’s rules on alcohol purchase and consumption.
The shop takes copies of the applicant’s passport and entry stamp, plus provides them with guidelines on responsible drinking in Dubai.
The license is valid for 30 days and can be renewed if tourists choose to extend their stay.
Although this represents a relaxation of the rules on buying booze, the United Arab Emirates still has strict laws when it comes to alcohol consumption.
The Foreign Office advice states: “You should be aware that it is a punishable offence under UAE law to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public.
“British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law, often in cases where they have come to the attention of the police for a related offence or matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour.”
It adds: “Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.”
The British consulate issued a warning on its Facebook page last year, stating that British travellers are at risk of arrest if they are found with alcohol in their blood when transiting through the United Arab Emirates.
It followed the case of Dr Ellie Holman, who was detained in Dubai with her daughter in August 2018 for allegedly drinking a complimentary glass of wine on a flight from London.
After landing in the UAE, the 44-year-old says she was questioned about her visa and asked if she had consumed alcohol, before being taken into custody. She was released a month later.
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