Associated Press: A “surprising decision” from the Emirate of Dubai regarding alcoholic beverages

The Associated Press said, on Sunday, quoting distributors, that the Emirate of Dubai made alcoholic beverage licenses free, and ended a 30 percent tax on sales of those drinks, apparently in order to boost tourism in the emirate.

This sudden announcement came at the beginning of the new year, according to the Associated Press, by two companies selling alcoholic beverages in Dubai, apparently based on a government decree.

Government officials did not immediately confirm the decision, and did not respond to questions from The Associated Press.

“These recently updated regulations are useful for the continued safe and responsible purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Dubai and the UAE,” said Tyrone Reed of alcoholic distributors Maritime & Marcantile International, part of the Emirates Group.

The company did not respond to a question if the decision was permanent, but in its latest announcement it told its customers: “You no longer need to go to other emirates,” given that other emirates serve alcohol tax-free.

African & Eastern, another alcohol retailer believed to be at least partially owned by the state or its subsidiaries, announced the end of municipal tax and licensing fees.

The aforementioned decision came after years of easing alcohol regulations in the emirate. Alcohol sales have long been a major barometer of Dubai’s economy, and during the recent World Cup in neighboring Qatar, many of Dubai’s bars attracted fans. However, despite this importance, the prices of alcoholic beverages are still high.

It was not immediately clear if the decision would lead to lower prices at alcohol outlets, or if it would only affect retailers.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, ended the alcohol licensing system in September 2020.

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