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Abu Dhabi cancels need for individuals to present liquor licences for purchase

The purchase of alcoholic beverages in Abu Dhabi emirate will no longer require customers to present alcohol licences.

In a statement to Gulf News, the DCT confirmed the change in regulations. “According to Law No. 31 of 2019 regarding alcoholic beverages, residents and diplomatic staff are no longer required to obtain a licence in order to purchase alcohol for personal consumption at their private residence. Residents, tourists and diplomatic staff who are over 21 years of age are able to purchase alcohol from the retail shops for the purpose of consumption at their private residence. [But] purchasing alcohol at retail stores for the purpose of trading or reselling carried out by individuals is prohibited and punishable by law,” it said.

“This change in alcohol licensing is in line with an ongoing review of licensing and regulations in Abu Dhabi. Through this process, we aim to facilitate ease of living by reducing processes and paperwork for residents. We trust in the community’s ability to buy and consume alcohol responsibly, and to ensure they do so in line with other laws and regulations governing alcohol in the emirate,” the DCT added.


A circular sent last week to liquor distribution companies and retail stores by the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) had laid out the change in regulation.

“We would like to announce the cancellation of alcohol licences for individuals, where residents and tourists will be permitted to buy and possess alcohol from licensed retail shops, and are allowed to drink within tourism and hotel establishments, clubs, and independent outlets,” the Circular No 67 of 2020 reads.

It further sets out the following regulations:

The consumer must be 21 years old.

The purchase is for personal consumption only and not for resale to others or storage.

The alcoholic beverages are consumed in private homes or inside licensed areas.

List of violations and applicable fines:

Selling liquor and alcoholic beverages to anyone less than 21 years old is subject to a fine of Dh40,000 for the first offence, Dh60,000 for the second offence, Dh80,000 for the third offence, and Dh80,000 for the fourth offence onwards.

Selling or re-selling liquor and alcoholic beverages without a licence is subject to a fine for Dh100,000 for the first offence, and Dh200,000 for the second offence. At the third violation, the establishment will be closed.

Advertising alcoholic beverages for sale is subject to a warning at the first offence. A fine of Dh10,000 will apply at the second offence, increasing to Dh30,000 on the third offence, and to Dh40,000 on the fourth offence.

Smuggling alcoholic beverages or liquor, or transporting it from outside the UAE without the required licences, will see the violator referred directly to the courts.

Making or producing alcoholic beverages at home is also a violation that will see the offender referred directly to the courts for legal proceedings.

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