The United Arab Emirates relaxes laws on alcohol

09 November, 2020

On Saturday, the United Arab Emirates announced new laws removing punishments for the consumption, sales and possession of alcohol for those 21 and over.

The loosening of alcohol restrictions is part of an overhaul of the country’s Islamic personal laws, also allowing unmarried couples to live together and removing legislation that defended so-called “honour” killings.

WAM, the state-run news agency reported that the relaxing of personal regulations aim to “consolidate the UAE’s principles of tolerance.” 

Alcohol has been legally available in bars and clubs in UAE, but individuals required a government-issued license to purchase, transport or possess alcohol in their homes. The new ruling will seemingly allow Muslims, who were unable to obtain an alcohol license previously, to consume alcoholic beverages. 

Previously, prosecutions for alcohol consumption were rare and most often seen when affixed to an arrest for another offence.

The move aims to reflect the country’s changing reputation as a hub for international tourism and business and follows an agreement in August to normalise relations between the UAE and Israel that is expected to encourage an influx of Israeli tourism and investment. 

The World Expo is due to take place in Dubai in October 2021, after being delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event expects to bring 25 million visitors to the Gulf state.

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