DUBAI, Sept 21, (AP): Abu Dhabi, the conservative capital of the United Arab Emirates, is eliminating its licensing system for alcohol purchases for drinkers after Dubai repeatedly loosened its own rules to boost sales and tourism amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism announced the new rules in a circular dated last week to distributors and liquor stores, but otherwise did not publicize the decision. Government officials did not respond to requests for comment Monday from The Associated Press. The new alcohol rule also comes just after Abu Dhabi ordered hotels to offer Kosher food, a nod toward the UAE normalizing relations with Israel.
Previously, individuals had needed a license to purchase, transport or have alcohol in their homes. But the new rules appear to only set an age limit of 21 and require drinkers to consume the beverages inside private homes or other licensed areas like bars.
That would allow Muslims who had been barred from obtaining licenses to be able to purchase from retailers. “We would like to announce the cancellation of alcohol licenses for individuals,” the circular said. “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.”