Export Market Guide - United Arab Emirates

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All regulatory information for exporting wine to UAE, including the regulatory environment, duties and taxes, and permitted additives.

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Um al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah, formed in 1971. The UAE is in the Middle East on the Arabian Peninsula.

Since unification, the UAE has transformed from an impoverished region with an economy based on pearl production, fishing, agriculture, and herding, into a modern, economically flourishing state with a standard of living amongst the top nations in the world. The region has vast oil resources and the economy has been built on the world demand for oil. The UAE has the world's fourth largest conventional oil reserves and seventh largest natural gas reserves. It is the Middle East's second largest economy, after Saudi Arabia.

 Up to 80 per cent of the population are non-nationals. Many immigrants come from India and other Asian countries, attracted by the high wages and employment opportunities.

The UAE is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In 2003, the GCC implemented a Customs Union to reduce the trade barriers and remove the import tariff between GCC member states and to provide a common external import tariff for goods imported from non-GCC countries. Alcohol is one of the few products not covered by this common tariff rate as it is a sensitive item and prohibited in some GCC member states. Alcohol is banned in the emirate of Sharjah.

The UAE and Australia initiated negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement, however, alternate negotiations for a GCC-wide Free Trade Agreement commenced in July 2007. Bilateral relations between the UAE and Australia are friendly and growing.

Regulatory environment

As a member of the GCC the UAE adheres to its laws and regulations relating to common external tariff rates and importing requirements. Sensitive items may be exempted from GCC laws and regulations. Alcohol is such an item and consequently the UAE controls the levels of taxation internally. The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) is the responsible body, in cooperation with other members of the Gulf Standards Organisation (GSO), for developing or adopting all standards. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is responsible for establishing and enforcing food safety regulations and laws based on recommendations made by the GSO and the National Food Safety Committee (NFSC) on food related matters.

The importation of alcohol is strictly controlled. There are no specific labelling or wine composition regulations in the UAE.

New alcohol laws

The UAE government has reportedly made significant changes to its legal system including the decriminalisation of the consumption of alcohol beverages. Individuals who sell alcohol beverages in authorised areas without a licence will no longer be prosecuted. Certain regulations remain unchanged, including that alcohol beverages may only be consumed privately or in licensed public places by individuals at least 21 years of age, and anyone selling to someone underage will be punished.

The amendments also give each emirate ‘the right to issue legislation regulating this issue’. For example, restrictions on alcohol have been updated in Abu Dhabi to eliminate ‘dry days’ and allow alcohol consumption during ‘all religious occasions, throughout the year and in upcoming years.’


Import procedures for the UAE market

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Duties and taxes for the UAE market

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Labelling requirements for the UAE market

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Wine standards for the UAE market

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.

Levy payers/exporters
Non-levy payers/exporters
Find out more

This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.