Monday, May 9, 2011

License to drink

At 34, I never thought I would have to show anyone ever again a license in order to have access to alcohol. And yet, here I am, carrying this liquor license with me everywhere I go…
Not complaining. Better to have a liquor license and be able to enjoy a cold beer, a glass of wine and a champagne flute once in a while, than to endure water with all my meals - which is exactly what would happen if I lived in other Muslim countries,  like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait for example, where production, import and consumption of alcohol are entirely banned.

So, I guess I am lucky to be in the United Arab Emirates. In Abu Dhabi, non-Muslim residents may apply for a Liquor License. With this document at hand, we are entitled to buy, transport and have alcohol in our homes (for own consumption). The amount of alcohol one is allowed to buy will be set by the Directorate Gen. of Police Abu Dhabi, based on the salary certificate that should be presented by the candidate during the application process.
Alcohol can only be found in specific venues. If you go to a restaurant located in a mall or out on the streets, it will most probably not sell alcohol. In hotels, however, you will find plenty of it to wet your lips.
If you want to buy a few bottles, don’t waste your time looking for them in the supermarket shelves (unless you want a non-alcoholic beer). Stores such as African & Eastern, Spinneys, GMP and more are your best bet. From a distance, since they are often unmarked and should not attract attention, they might be hard to spot and you might not expect much. But I am sure you won’t be disappointed once you are in. Lots to choose from, including the famous Brazilian cachaça, as you will see below…

In any case, whatever your status is – resident, spouse, visitor – make sure you double check the rules and regulations on alcohol consumption before you schedule drinks with your mates (especially because they may vary depending on the Emirate you are in). And, never, ever, drink and drive. Zero tolerance for this around here.

You are probably wondering why Muslims avoid alcohol. Well, apparently the Quran states that Muslims should stay away from substances that are harmful to mind and body, including liquor and other drugs.
I once asked a local friend why such caution. Here is what she had to say: "The reasoning behind it is that these so called intoxicants have the ability to take away your focus, to reduce your competence to think, to cloud your mind – and this is negative because you should be in touch with all your senses all the time, especially if you want to remember God and prayer and avoid sins."

1 comment:

  1. love the comment from your local friend, Still smiling! siit gave a nice touch to your interesting article.