Dubai has loosened its liquor laws in order to face the severe economic crisis that has affected the trade in alcohol, news agencies have reported. For the first time, Dubai now allows tourists to buy alcohol from state-owned markets, said Associated Press on Tuesday, whereas before only locals with special licences could do so.
"The United Arab Emirates is facing tough challenges," explained market research firm Euromonitor International in a recent report. "Changes in both consumers' buying behaviour and demographics have started to have an effect."
Alcohol is big business in the UAE, Al Jazeera pointed out, especially as there is a 50 per cent import tax on a bottle of alcohol, as well as an additional 30 per cent tax in Dubai on buying from liquor stores.
According to Al Jazeera, last year Dubai Duty Free, which is also government-owned, sold more than $2bn of goods to those passing through its airport terminals. Purchases included nine million cans of beer, three million bottles of whisky and 1.5 million bottles of wine.