Dubai ends 30% liquor sales tax and fees for liquor licenses

ROME (AP) — Dubai ended its 30% tax on liquor sales in the Sheikh on Sunday and made its required liquor licenses free, ending a longtime source of income for its ruling family to apparently further boost tourism in the emirate.

The sudden New Year’s announcement, made by Dubai’s two state-linked alcohol retailers, apparently came from a government decree from its Al Maktoum ruling family. However, government officials did not immediately acknowledge the decision and did not respond to questions from The Associated Press.

But that follows years of relaxed alcohol regulations in the sheikh, which now sells alcohol during the day during Ramadan and began providing home delivery during lockdowns at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alcohol sales have long served as a major barometer of the economy of Dubai, one of the top tourist destinations in the United Arab Emirates, home to long-haul carrier Emirates. During the recent World Cup in nearby Qatar, Dubai’s many bars attracted traveling football fans.

However, a pint of beer can easily cost upwards of $10 at a bar, with other drinks costing even more. It was not immediately clear whether this would lead to lower prices at establishments serving alcohol or if it would only affect those who buy it from retailers.

Alcohol distributor Maritime and Mercantile International, part of the wider Emirates Group, made the announcement in a statement.

“Since we began operations in Dubai over 100 years ago, the emirate’s approach has remained dynamic, sensitive and inclusive for all,” said Tyrone Reid of MMI. “These recently updated regulations are essential to continue to ensure the safe and responsible purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.”

MMI did not respond to questions about whether the decision was permanent. However, an advert run by MMI urged customers to buy from its stores, saying “you no longer need to travel to the other emirates”. Dubai residents have long driven to Umm al-Quwain and other emirates for bulk and duty-free liquor purchases.

African & Eastern, the second-largest liquor retailer believed to be at least partially owned by the state or affiliates, also announced an end to municipal tax and license fees.

According to Dubai law, non-Muslims must be 21 or older to consume alcohol. Drinkers are supposed to be provided with plastic cards issued by the Dubai Police that allow them to purchase, transport and consume beer, wine and spirits. Otherwise, they risk fines and arrest – even though the Sheikh’s vast network of bars, nightclubs and lounges almost never ask to see the permit.

Yet relatively liberal Dubai is one exception among many in the region. Sharjah, an emirate that borders Dubai to the north, bans alcohol, as do neighboring countries Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the oil-rich UAE, ended its liquor license system in September 2020. Sunday’s announcement also came as the UAE prepares to introduce a 9% corporation tax in June on top of other fees and charges it levies while avoiding corporate income tax. individuals.


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