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Legal reforms pertaining to alcohol have been outlined in the UAE.

The UAE stands as a global destination for millions of expatriates, hailing from diverse backgrounds, cultures, religions, beliefs, and ways of life.

To transform the UAE into a truly globalized modern nation, a series of reforms have been implemented, with significant changes in the realm of alcohol regulations. The initial catalyst for these transformations was Federal Decree Law No. 15 of 2020, amending the former Penal Code (Federal Law No. 3 of 1987). These changes were subsequently consolidated and reaffirmed under the new Penal Code, known as Federal Decree Law No. 31 of 2021, titled the Issuance of Crimes and Penalties Law.

Outlined below are the key legal reforms related to alcohol in the UAE:

  1. Permitted Consumption: There are no penalties for consuming alcohol in cases and locations sanctioned by applicable law. Unlike the previous requirement for a license for personal alcohol consumption, this shift emphasizes adherence to individual emirate regulations, allowing each emirate to establish its own laws governing alcohol use, circulation, trade, and possession.

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  1. Licensing Requirements: Possession, manufacturing, promotion, or sale of alcohol necessitates a license from competent authorities. Violation of licensing terms or engaging in these activities without proper authorization may result in imprisonment and/or fines, reaching up to AED 500,000.

  2. Legal Drinking Age: The legal age for consuming alcohol is set at 21 years.

  3. Offering Alcohol to Minors: Providing alcohol to individuals under 21, encouraging their consumption, or purchasing it for them can lead to imprisonment for up to 1 year and fines up to AED 100,000. However, if the age verification process is carried out and the person is confirmed to be 21, as per official documentation, no crime is committed.

  4. Public Consumption Restrictions: While general permission exists for alcohol consumption without a license, it is strictly prohibited in public places or unauthorized locations. Violation of this rule or being found intoxicated in public may result in imprisonment for up to 6 months, fines up to AED 100,000, or a combination of both.

  5. Driving under the Influence: Drinking and driving are strictly forbidden. According to Federal Law Number 21 of 1995 concerning Traffic and its amendments, driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics is punishable. Those found guilty may face imprisonment and/or a minimum fine of AED 25,000 as stipulated in Article 49 (6) of the Traffic Law.

These legal reforms reflect the UAE's commitment to balancing modernization with the preservation of public safety and order.

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