Dubai is considered to be one of the most liberal Islamic cities by most expats who've traveled in the Middle East. Drinking is legal in Dubai and all other emirates except Sharjah (alcohol is rotatably banned here). Dinking rules are however very different from those in western countries.
The legal age for drinking alcohol in Dubai is 18 years though there's a ministry of tourism by-law that prevents hotels from selling alcohol to anyone under 21 years.
The easiest way for tourists to get alcohol in Dubai is purchasing from hotels, bars, and clubs. Like in most Islamic states drinking in public, public intoxication, and drunk driving will land you in trouble.
There are only two official liquor distributors in Dubai (MMI and A+E). You cannot purchase alcohol directly from distributors without a liquor license. Only liquor license holders can also purchase alcohol online on LegalHomeDelivery.com
Why it's important to get a liquor license in Dubai
If you drink and are staying in Dubai for over a month it's essential to get a liquor license.
It's illegal to transport alcohol or drink at home without a liquor license ( This includes even drinking at a friend's house). Penalty for drinking indoors without a liquor license includes fines and in some cases loss of your visa.
Liquor licenses in Dubai are issued to both tourists and residents. Dubai is the only emirate that issues liquor licenses to tourists. Liquor licenses are only valid in the Emirate where they are issued.
You have to be above 21 years and non-Muslim to buy the license.
Liquor license applications only cost AED 270 at all MMI and A+E stores across Dubai. Applications are generally approved within 48 hours and licenses available for collection in 2 or 3 weeks.