Tourists warned against alcohol on Dubai flights

Flights to Dubai often serve alcoholic beverages onboard as it’s not illegal to drink while in the air. However, it is illegal to be drunk in public in Dubai. Following the arrest of a British woman, The British Embassy in the United Arab Emirates has issued a warning to Britons travelling to the country.


If you are thought to be carrying alcohol or if you’re caught drinking alcohol without a license you can be arrested in Dubai. Especially if the local police believe that you’re drunk in public. It is a punishable offence to be under the influence of alcohol in public, even when tourists are simply transiting through the UAE.

After being detained, if you are guilty of drinking alcohol and alcohol is found in your blood after being arrested, you can be fined or help in custody for a time. Other offences that you commit while under the influence of alcohol are tried separately to the act of drinking alcohol or being drunk.

There is also absolutely zero tolerance for driving after you’ve been drinking in the UAE. You can even be arrested as a passenger in a car driven by someone with alcohol in their blood.

Tourists cannot buy a license for alcohol, and so they must only drink in areas which carry a license – such as a restaurant or bar – and they must take care to stay within their limits before going back out in public. Preferably, if you’ve been drinking, head back to your hotel room until you’ve sobered up entirely. This is the best way to avoid any issues while in Dubai or the rest of the UAE.

Considering the issues that drinking in the UAE has caused, the chief executive of human rights group Detained in Dubai, has announced: “In light of the FCO’s announcement, we will be contacting all airlines who transit to or through the UAE to clarify their position on serving alcohol to passengers.”

Dr Ellie Holman, who was the British woman arrested after arriving in Dubai, was imprisoned for three days after being asked if she had consumed alcohol on the flight.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised that any passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may be arrested. Recently, Dubai has been encouraging British tourists to visit by offering free transit visas as well as free children visas every summer. This, of course, means that more Brits are visiting Dubai, but not all of them are aware of the laws regarding drinking, or being caught drunk in public.

For any UK tourists or travellers that are looking to visit Dubai in the near future, remember to bear in mind that their laws are different to the ones you’ll be used to from the UK. It would be prudent for you to take some time before your trip to study the laws regarding alcohol in Dubai and the UAE and be cautious while you’re travelling around the area.

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