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Dubai ditches alcohol tax for tourism boost

Dubai ditches alcohol tax for tourism boost

Dubai is set for a tourism boost after scrapping its alcohol tax.

The Middle Eastern city was already a big draw for visitors but restrictions on alcohol have made getting a drink a difficult and expensive task.

However, on New Year's Day (01.01.23), it was announced that the 30 per cent tax on alcohol would be dropped. The fee tourists and expats needed to pay for a licence to buy alcohol from a store for private consumption has also been scrapped.

The changes are significant for both visitors and residents, although it remains illegal to drink in public places in Dubai.

The move comes as Dubai faces growing competition from Middle Eastern neighbours such as Saudi Arabia. The city does hold significant appeal to travellers as it attracted nearly 13 million international tourists between January and November 2022.

Magdalena Karolak, associate professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at a university in the United Arab Emirates, said: "Dubai became a global tourism magnet while tax was applied, as it has so much to offer to tourists that the alcohol pricing was never an impediment."

The new rules follow other changes designed to make Dubai more attractive to foreign visitors, including the shift to a Saturday-Sunday weekend and food outlets being allowed to continue service during daytime in the holy month of Ramadan.

Karolak said: "Altogether, these social changes make Dubai an attractive city for a long-term presence and it's not just a short-term holiday hotspot."

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