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Q&A: What operators in the hospitality sector need to know about liquor licences in Dubai
Businesses operating in the hospitality sector often face practical challenges with regard to obtaining and preserving their liquor licences in Dubai. The purpose of this Q&A is to provide such businesses with a brief overview on an issue of substantial impact on their operations.
What is the legal framework governing liquor licensing in Dubai?
The principle law is Law No. 999 of 1972 (the ‘Liquor Control Law’). There are also a number of provisions namely relating to the consumption, advertisement, and sale of alcohol in Dubai (e.g. Penal Code, advertisement laws, taxes and tariffs laws, etc.)
Which authority is responsible for liquor licensing in Dubai?
Liquor licences in Dubai are issued by the Dubai Police General Headquarter (‘DPGH’).
What are the types of liquor licences?
There are 4 types of liquor licenses.
In addition to the above licence types, Article 2 of the Liquor Control Law states that the DPGH may, on the basis of an application, grant a person a licence to export liquor outside the Emirate, subject to a specific quota restraint.
What are the permissible activities under a Type C liquor licence?
Under a licence to serve liquor at a hotel, club, or restaurant, the licensee is allowed to do the following, either personally or through its employees:
What are the rules of conduct in respect of Type C liquor licences?
Pursuant to the Liquor Control Law, the following are the main rules of conduct that must be observed by a licensee under a Type C liquor licence:
In addition to the above rules of conduct, the DPGH issued the following directives that must be observed by hotels, clubs, and restaurants under a Type C licence:
What are the information and documents generally required from a person applying for a Type C liquor licence?
A person applying for a Type C liquor license must submit a written request to the DPGH, which would include:
How long does a Type C licence typically takes to be issued by the DPGH?
The licence is usually issued within seven to ten working days from the date of inspection of the relevant premises by the DPGH officers.
Is there a limit on the amount of alcohol purchased by an establishment licensed under Type C licence?
Yes. The DPGH ensures that each Type C licence is subject to a quota for the purchase of liquor, which cannot be exceeded. This quota depends on the type of outlet, its size, and the number of expected guests (e.g. the quota applicable to a restaurant would be generally less than the one applicable to a lounge).
Are there restrictions on the opening hours of an establishment licensed to sell liquor under a Type C liquor licence?
Yes. A licensed establishment may only sell liquor to its customers within permitted operating hours. The permitted operating hours are set by the governmental authorities and differ subject to where the licensed establishment is located. Please note also that there may be different restrictions on opening hours, dependent on the licensed activity of the establishment, i.e., a restaurant versus a bar.
Can a licensee advertise alcohol in Dubai?
It is illegal to advertise the sale of alcohol beverages in Dubai. However, the practice on the ground indicates a certain degree of pragmatism that would warrant seeking legal advice on case by case basis.
Al Tamimi & Co has considerable experience in advising and assisting operators in the hospitality sector on establishing a presence in Dubai and obtaining the relevant licenses and permits. Please feel free to contact Al Tamimi & Co’s Hospitality Practice with regard to any query that you may have in this respect.