Dubai ended its 30% tax on alcohol sales in the sheikhdom Sunday and made its required liquor licenses free to obtain, ending a long-standing source of revenue for its ruling family to apparently further boost its tourism to the emirate.
The sudden New Year’s Day announcement, made by Dubai’s two state-linked alcohol retailers, came apparently from a government decree from its ruling Al Maktoum family. However, government officials did not immediately acknowledge the decision and did not respond to questions from The Associated Press.
But it follows years of loosening regulations over liquor in the sheikhdom, which now sells alcohol during daylight hours in Ramadan and began providing home delivery during the lockdowns at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Alcohol sales have long served as a major barometer of the economy of Dubai, a top travel destination in the UAE, home to the long-haul carrier Emirates. During the recent World Cup in nearby Qatar, Dubai’s many bars drew commuting soccer fans.