10 Things You Didn’t Know About Drinking in Dubai

Dubai boasts some of the most amazing bars and clubs in the entire world. Yet, alcohol is banned under Sharia (Islamic) law. That doesn’t mean that non-Muslim visitors and locals can’t drink though. In this unique environment, it is essential to know the local laws and customs. Here are ten things you didn’t know about drinking in Dubai.

White Nightclub Dubai
Club WHITE in Dubai

You need a license to buy alcohol for personal consumption (seriously)

Want a six-pack of beer? That won’t be as easy as you think. Many places in the world let you purchase alcohol from gas stations, grocery stores, you name it. Some places are stricter and only sell alcohol at licensed or state-owned stores. Dubai goes an entire step further and requires a license to purchase alcohol for drinking at home. According to the US State Department website, “Liquor licenses are issued only to non-Muslim persons who possess UAE residency permits.” However, alcohol can still be enjoyed at bars and clubs.

The dance floor at Club Boudoir, a nightclub in Dubai

Alcohol is not banned during the holy month of Ramadan

Despite the restrictions on alcohol, alcohol is still permitted for non-Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan runs from the 26th of May until the 25th of June in 2017. Strict fasting from sunrise until sunset is still practiced in Dubai during Ramadan. Fortunately, there are still places to eat during the day for non-Muslims. And of course, alcohol is still served.

The outside of 360°, a nightclub in Dubai

Drinking can be expensive

Drinking in Dubai isn’t cheap though. In fact, it can be up to twice as expensive as drinking in a major Western city. Fortunately, Brunchy can help you find the best happy hours and deals.

A costume party at Las Vegas Night Club, a club in Dubai

Kissing in public can get you arrested in Dubai

Seriously. Dubai is located in the United Arab Emirates. While Dubai is more relaxed than the rest of the UAE, public displays of affection are still illegal. In fact, rude gestures can get you arrested as well.

The floor of Cavalli Club, a club in Dubai

Getting belligerently drunk in Dubai can possibly land you in prison

This might have been obvious from the previous point but seriously, getting smashed in public in Dubai is a bad idea. While people do get drunk, stumbling around on the sidewalk, shouting and being rude will definitely draw attention to you. Drinking in Dubai is cool—being a drunken fool is not.

Brunch at XL Dubai during an event

There are three legal systems in Dubai

Further complicating things is the fact that unlike in the US and UK, there are actually three legal systems instead of two in Dubai. There is a civil court, which handles debt cases, law suits, etc. Then there is a criminal court. Finally, there is Sharia court parallel to these other two courts.

A peak inside N’dulge, a night club in Dubai

Using drugs in Dubai is a no-no

Given how strict the alcohol laws and laws against public drunkenness are, it comes as no surprise that the laws against possession and use of illegal drugs—including medical marijuana—are severe. Four years in prison then deportation severe.

People dancing at Zinc Nightclub, in Dubai

You can be convicted for drugs by just testing positive in Dubai

You read that right. Unlike in most parts of the world, you don’t have to possess an illegal drug to be found guilty. If you’re suspected of being on an illegal drug when arrested, a positive drug test will result in a conviction for possession and use of it.

The dining room of Buddha Bar, a restaurant and bar in Dubai

Be *discreet* (please)

Despite all of this, it is not illegal to drink and have fun in Dubai. The key is discretion. Don’t drink in public. Don’t drink too much. The majority of the population of Dubai is from another country.

Redfoo LIVE at Cirque le Soir Dubai

Drinking in Dubai can still be a blast

The positive effect of Dubai’s strict laws is that it is one of the safest cities in the world. Filled with amazing architecture, restaurants and shops, Dubai is a unique city and visiting a once in a lifetime opportunity. Don’t let the local laws and high prices get in the way—download Brunchy today.

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