Dubai slashes price of alcohol to boost tourism but travellers warned they risk arrest

Tourists on a yacht as they pass a traditional dhow serving a dinner cruise, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP)
Tourists on a yacht as they pass a traditional dhow serving a dinner cruise, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP)

Britons going to Dubai could risk arrest as the cost of alcohol is slashed to lure in more tourists, a campaigner has warned.

The UAE city, already a popular destination for British tourists and influencers, has recently axed a 30 per cent tax on alcohol that could see the price of a pint cut from £12 to £8.

The country has significantly relaxed strict laws on drinking to boost tourism – but human rights campaigners warn this could lead to an increasing number of people being detained.

A license to consume alcohol at home for residents, which costs around £60, has also been scrapped. Dubai now allows the sale of alcohol during daylight hours during Ramadan.

But Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, told MailOnline that Dubai’s laws were “contradictory” as people were encouraged to drink despite it being a criminal offence to have alcohol in your blood in public.

She said: “Reducing the cost of alcohol in Dubai is sending a clear message to tourists and that is to drink. Considering Dubai’s alcohol laws prohibit the possession of alcohol in public, drinking in Dubai is inherently dangerous.

“If a visitor’s blood is tested and shows up even one drink, they can be criminally charged. Alcohol tests are often conducted when a complaint is made by a local.

“If a local is offended by a visitor’s dress sense, language or behaviour, they may call the police and have the visitor arrested, even if that person has only consumed a small beer.”

Around 1.5 million Britons visit Dubai every year and it is home to 100,000 expatriate residents.

More than 12 million international visitors went to Dubai in total in the first 11 months of 2022.

Drinking rules were also relaxed in neighbouring Qatar, which hosted the World Cup last month.