Tips for expat drinkers heading to the UAE

Tips for expat drinkers heading to the UAE

Tips for expat drinkers heading to the UAE

If you’re heading to the UAE on relocation or have just signed your contract for that perfect job, hold back on the celebrations until you’ve memorised alcohol laws in the emirates.

In spite of recent changes affecting expat communities in the UAE, it’s still a favourite with expat professionals looking to earn a more than decent salary and enjoy life at the same time. However, for those whose idea of enjoying life owes a good deal to alcohol, it’s best to read, learn and inwardly digest the rules on drinking in these Moslem enclaves.

Firstly, drinking in public places, even if you’re simply sitting outside a friendly street restaurant, is totally forbidden. If having a beer or two is essential to your wellbeing as regards stress levels after work, there are licensed bars and restaurants associated with hotels as well as stores where those with alcohol licenses can purchase their favourite tipple without being arrested and fined. Getting a drinking license is essential, as if you’re found drunk without one you’re in real trouble.

Drink driving is an absolute no-no in the UAE due to its effect on the ability to drive, coordination and judgement. The UAE’s policy is zero tolerance, as around 15 per cent of crashes are alcohol related. Motorists caught with even a small amount of alcohol in their bloodstream are liable to fines of Dh20,000 plus a jail term, with the same penalties applied to the use of other narcotic substances. If you’re caught drunk-driving or even just drunk without an alcohol permit, the results can include a six-month jail sentence in addition to a fine.

Drinking in the workplace is also regarded as a serious crime as it can cause harm to your colleagues, but will certainly cause you harm due to mandatory and immediate dismissal from your job. The same punishment applies to drug usage, also best avoided at all costs. Given the strictness of the UAE’s anti-alcohol laws, both tourists and expats might well be surprised at the lax laws regarding duty-free limits on arrival. Expat residents with alcohol licenses are allowed up to four litres of duty-free spirits, wines or other such beverages, or two 24-can cartons of beer at 335 millilitres a can.

Arriving passengers must be over the age of 18 to take advantage of the alcohol allowance. Once you’re here as a resident, the first job is to get your alcohol license, via filling in a form available online or at recognised liquor stores. You’ll need to be over 21 years of age, hold a residence visa, have a monthly salary of more than Dh3,000 and definitely not be of the Muslim faith.

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