Dubai has eased rules on the sale of alcohol in a bid to provide a boost for its struggling hospitality industry.
Rabat – The government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates again relaxed restrictions on alcohol sales as it aims to boost tax revenue and provide a lifeline to its hospitality industry. Dubai is experiencing a significant economic downturn in the era of COVID-19 and its mitigation measures.
The economy of Dubai is facing a difficult period following a transitionary period in which the Emirati city slowly eased out of its strict lockdown. Dubai’s important real-estate market is set to reach mows not seen since the 2009 recession and the local tourism and hospitality sectors are especially badly hit.
Dubai is a prime location for global travelers and functions as a hub for long-distance travelers, particularly between Asia, Africa, and Europe. The sale of alcohol in Dubai has been closely linked to its success as a destination for wealthy expatriates. In the absence of large-scale international tourism, Dubai’s hospitality sector has struggled to survive.
“It’s been a challenging year and there’s no hiding from that for any business, particularly those in the hospitality industry,” Mike Glen, a local director for alcohol distributor Maritime and Mercantile, told the Associated Press. The cancelation of the Expo 2020 world fair came as a major blow in a year marked by bad news in the local economy.
State revenues have been depressed by the effects of the pandemic and Dubai hopes increased alcohol sales could help bring in much-needed revenue for the ruling al Maktoum family. Dubai is one of the few Emirates that is not heavily dependent on oil revenue, but the recent downturn has weakened its position as an economically self-sustainable entity.
Dubai has restricted access to alcohol by asking non-Muslim residents to get a red-colored card that permits its user to purchase and transport alcohol for personal use, with express permission of the resident’s employer. Permission to buy alcohol also depended on the income level of the individual requesting a permission card.
Local authorities had earlier loosened these restrictions during the lockdown to allow for legal hole-delivery of alcohol for the first time in its history.
Dubai authorities have now announced that the red permission cards will be replaced with a new black permission card. The card will be easier to acquire, have looser income requirements, and will not require permission from the individual’s employer.
Local officials hope the relaxed laws will boost sales, but in practice, most Dubai nightlife venues already did not check customers’ permission cards before selling them alcohol.