Abu Dhabi to end alcohol licence system for residents

Licensed premises across the emirate were told of the decision this week

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Related: How to get an alcohol licence in Dubai

Abu Dhabi residents will no longer need a licence to buy and drink alcohol, the authorities have said.

A note sent to distribution companies and retailers said they were not required to ask customers to produce a card that showed they were eligible to buy alcohol.

Customers must be at least 21 and the purchase should be for personal use, not resale.

Alcohol should also be consumed in private homes or licensed areas only.

The letter was issued by Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism.

"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, in accordance with the following requirements," the department said.

“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."

In recent years, shops, bars and restaurants have seldom asked customers to show a licence, but customers were technically required to have one by law.

The decision removes any grey area over the legalities.

In Dubai, shops must ask residents for a licence, or tourists for a temporary licence, before selling alcohol. Bars and restaurants do not ask to see licences.

This year, the emirate made a series of changes to the alcohol licence system, making it easier for residents to acquire one and to ensure the law was clear.

This included removing the need for a no-objection certificate from a resident's employer. Residents are required only to fill out a basic form, produce their Emirates ID and pay Dh270.

The authorities also allowed tourists to secure a temporary licence by showing their passport and visa stamp to store managers.