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Alcohol, Nightlife & Medicines in UAE


Alcohol…. Liquor…. Spirits… Nightlife…. & Medicines with Alcohol

Alcohol in no matter any name you say it, it is the biggest hot topic in the Middle East. UAE too being a country belonging to the Gulf Countries follow the Shariah Islamic Law which says NO to Alcohol. But UAE is a country which welcomes diversity and their nationalities are open to other cultural values and adopt things giving respect to the local Arabic system at all times.

A lot of travelers are mood out of no alcohol policy in UAE and some have the impression that it’s banned like Saudi. This blog basically clearly shows in depth understanding of the law, what really happens, and the practical situations living here over the years. Adventure Emirates cannot be held responsible for any person who breaks the law or misbehaves in resulting in heavy penalties and even prosecuted to jail in UAE.

The 3 most visited cities in UAE by tourist are Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah while other Emirates add on to the list following these.

Sharjah and the other emirates apart from Dubai & Abu Dhabi fall into a strict culture of Islamic Law. Sharjah is such a sensitive city which women are not even able to wear shorts in public places like malls & in a busy roads. Sharjah do not hold any night clubs & has a strict rules No Alcohol Policy other than served in Hotel restaurants or in-room dining as they do not entertain any nightlife in this city. This applies to the other states too like Fujairah, Ajman and the others as they still are sticking to their heritage and traditional values.

But Dubai and Abu Dhabi is more of Tourism based city and is welcome for diversity. So consumption of alcohol is a normal activity and not a taboo but under certain criteria. Dubai remains as the hub for entertainment and nightlife today even challenging back to back with Sin City of Las Vegas.

Lets Understand the Basic Law First!

As per the law NO one is allowed to consume or purchase liquor or alcohol from any stores or at your residence, no matter if he/she is a tourist or a resident without a Liquor License. No liquor store will serve to purchase alcohol without you presenting your liquor license. This is usually applied by residents who need to have a minimum salary above 3000 AED and a single apartment non-sharing which will cost around AED 160. Muslims are not eligible for a liquor license in UAE. The minimum age is 21 years above for alcohol consumption. No to Drug Policy under any circumstances.

Now the question arises then how come people in UAE drink alcohol, how come there are so many nightlife spots and what are the options for a tourist?

To understand this we take a practical approach on this blog to see what Dubai and Abu Dhabi is about in the alcohol and liquor policy.

The law abides by any means that without a liquor license you cannot buy alcohol in a store or a supermarket and the minimum age is above 21 years. The available spot for tourist and other residents to enjoy alcohol at a free mood is to visit a night club, a bar, a restaurant which serves liquor and of course in-room dining or in your hotel room.

Alcohol is usually available in all hotels in Dubai. The only requirement is that no traditional costumes are allowed like an Arabian costumes inside a night club or you will not be served alcohol if they found with such an attire. There are high chances of you being denied entry in to the pub if they found so.

As per the law and the religion Alcohol is Haram to Muslims. But the tip is that do not show yourself as a Muslim at such places if you are in the motive of consuming alcohol. But if found out you are a Muslim the restaurant has the right to say NO to you. On a practical basis if we consider this daily we see a lot of Muslims consuming alcohol in Dubai and Abu Dhabi Nightlife without any barriers.

Alcohol can be consumed at beach parties and pubs but make sure you are always at your senses as no one can be held responsible for you. Dubai has safe Taxi drivers outside the bars and parties which are mainly to drop back the guests to their residences and hotels safely. Ladies too are safe in Dubai but know your limits of drinking. Remember that no alcohol will be allowed to be taken out from any of the hotel, restaurant or party premises. Whatever you order should be consumed on location. If remained cannot be taken home or outside. It’s just to the bin. So make sure to order an amount which is practically drinkable.

The main point to remember is you are NOT allowed to drink in public, cause any misbehavior or hassle to others, No fighting and quarrels, No drink and Drive and no using of bad and inappropriate language and NO consumption of any illegal drugs, as If anyone complains against you the Police have all authority to arrest you and take into custody immediately.

During the Month of Ramadan Periods and special Islamic Holidays no Nightlife will take place and alcohol will not be served. In most hotels they will serve you after Iftar while some hotels serve you 24 hours only in in-room dining even in Ramadan. Thus we advise you to check with your hotel while doing the bookings during Ramadan period or in any case you find out any Islamic public holidays.

This is only a hint we would like to share with you but it’s all under your risk. As per the law you cannot consume at home without a liquor license but in case you are a tourist you are not eligible for it in a short stay. But if you have a friend who is a resident in Dubai and invites you to his house and if he/she holds a liquor license then you will not be offended if you had a drink with him. On a practical basis no Police would break into houses for spot check unless you create disturbance to your neighbors. You also have the opportunity to drink in your hotel room inviting your friend there. That is your privacy but once again please do not cause any harm or disturbance to the other guests in the hotel.

Alcohol License

Most tourists are mainly worried of whether they can take alcohol by themselves from the airport into the city of Dubai or Abu Dhabi. We would like to explain you all possible ways of a practical approach.

Any tourist is permitted to take 4 litres of alcohol, mixed wine, spirits or beer from the airport without any declaration. This can be the liquor bottles you carried from back home to enjoy in Dubai with your friends too. But make sure if you are giving it to a friend who holds the liquor license or you are always free to have in your hotel room.

The main point is that please be informed that you do not need to have a hassle carrying alcohols from your own country as your can be able to find it in the Dubai Duty Free. So you do not have the tension of packing it and worrying about safety or breakage of the bottles. Dubai Duty free is open 24/7 and you can buy on arrival and take with you to your hotel or home (resident with liquor license). But still the limit remains as 4 liters per person.

Above this limit would need a declaration or an approval from the local customs and officials and this solely depends on them to release it or not as no others will be able to influence this process. Dubai respects cultural diversity and gives leverage so we must thank them and make sure we use it in the right manner. The immigration has all authorities to keep back your alcohol if found over quota or you will need to come into a settlement on working a solution with them which is really time consuming.

Please remember that Alcoholic liquor bottles cannot be carried in public transport like Metro and Buses. If caught is a very serious offence resulting in a big penalty or even jail.

Finally arises the point of alcohol in medicines. This is a prime concern in most airports in the world. This usually applies for medicines like Naturopaths, Homeopathic medicines and several others apart from the western medicine.

This is very much of a common sense logic which is not only understandable by custom authorities but also from a layman point of view. If you are a tourist you will not be staying in UAE for years or months so thus eliminate from carrying bulk of medicines. One packet of your daily medicine is understandable as even if there is a spot check you are able to prove it as genuine since you are a patient consuming it for months and years.

But as per our experience with the officials we always advice you to carry a prescription by your doctor and also a letter addressing to the customs and immigration of UAE by your doctor that the medicine is genuine and the percentage of alcohol is of medicine purpose for you being a patient. In case there is any questions to you during the baggage check please feel free to present this letter and your prescription which they will certainly understand the purpose for you carrying it.

Most tourists travel for months and in that case if you are holding some medicines more than a short stay limit along with the above letter make sure you take time to declare it in the customs so that in case a situation arises for a random check you are not in trouble. You are safe because you already have kept them informed. The authorities only see the genuineness of the traveler. If you are truthful enough we assure you will never be penalized.


UAE respects all medicines and gives more respect to others feelings and cultural values. Alcohol and medicines is allowed under certain borders. With all fun and enjoyment meanwhile making your stay safe secured and the best. Just do it in the right way because UAE never says NO to anything, they always work on an option and a solution.

Carol Neilon

Our living exposure here has helped us to gather up-to-date knowledge of happenings in UAE and we've guided many visitors for memorable holidays.