The 30% tax on alcohol in Dubai has been abolished and now the liquor license will be free. The move is seen as an attempt to make Dubai more attractive to foreigners compared to neighboring Gulf countries.
Dubai is one of the countries in the world where alcohol is the most expensive. The abolition of the tax on alcohol was announced on New Year’s Eve Sunday. The announcement was made by two state-owned liquor distribution companies in Dubai and is believed to have been made at the behest of the ruling Al Maktoum family. Government officials did not immediately confirm this and did not respond to queries on the matter.
What did the companies announce?
Dubai, a Muslim country known as a financial, commercial and tourism hub, is one of the major oil exporters. It has recently relaxed its alcohol regulations. In Dubai, alcohol is now available to non-Muslims even during the month of Ramadan and during the lockdown in the corona virus epidemic, the facility of delivering alcohol to people’s homes was also provided.
Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI), a Dubai-based liquor retailer, announced on Sunday the abolition of the tax on alcohol. The company, however, did not respond to the question whether the decision is permanent.
MMI, however, has appealed to customers in an advertisement to buy liquor from its stores. “Now you don’t have to travel to other countries in the Emirates to buy alcohol,” the ad says.
People usually go to Umm Al Quwain and other countries in the emirate to buy bulk and tax-free liquor. Another liquor retailer, African & Eastern, has also announced the abolition of taxes and license fees.
According to MMI and African & Eastern, non-Muslims over the age of 21 will no longer have to pay alcohol tax in Dubai liquor stores. “Buying your favorite drink just got easier and cheaper,” MMI also announced on Facebook.
Dubai is one of the countries in the world where alcohol is the most expensive. A pint or half liter of normal beer here costs more than $15.
What is the alcohol law in Dubai?
According to Dubai law, only non-Muslims who are 21 years of age or older can drink alcohol. They must have a special permit issued by the Dubai Police to buy, carry and consume alcohol. Otherwise, they can be fined and arrested. However, Dubai has an extensive network of bars, nightclubs and lodges that do not require their guests to show a permit.
Unlike neighboring Saudi Arabia, most states in the UAE do not prohibit non-Muslims from drinking alcohol. In these states, alcohol is sold in hotels, restaurants, bars and specialty shops, but public consumption is prohibited. Among the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates, Sharjah is the only state where alcohol is completely banned.
Abolition of liquor tax aims to promote tourism
Dubai’s decision to abolish the alcohol tax comes as Saudi Arabia embarks on a massive campaign to attract foreign tourists and companies. On the other hand, after the successful holding of the World Cup football, Qatar has also achieved great success in attracting tourists.
According to the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, more than 12 million foreign tourists arrived in the first 11 months of 2022, which is almost double the number of 2021, when 6.02 million foreigners visited Dubai for tourism and trade.