UAE Alcoholic Beverages Report

An Expert's View about Food , Beverages and Tobacco in the United Arab Emirates

Posted on: 29 Jun 2012

In 2010 the UAE imported about $107 million worth of alcoholic beverages of which $7.4 million were re exported to other countries.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Voluntary Public - Date: 6/14/2012 GAIN Report Number: UAE/Alcohol/2012 United Arab Emirates Post: Dubai UAE Alcoholic Beverages Report Report Categories: Beverages Approved By: Jude Akhidenor Prepared By: Simon Manoukian Report Highlights: The UAE market for alcoholic beverages has been growing at an annual rate of 8%. In 2010 the UAE imported about $107 million worth of alcoholic beverages of which $7.4 million were re exported to other countries. Imports from the United States were valued at $3 million, almost 3% of the total. General Information: Introduction The Islamic Sharia law observed in the United Arab Emirates prohibits the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages for Muslims. The law is strictly applied on all Muslim residents in the country, regardless of national origin. However, given the large number of non-Muslim expatriates living in the UAE, and their demand for access to alcoholic beverages, the government has made allowances for this group to purchase and consume imported alcohol, which is strictly regulated and only sold in designated locations. The bulk of the imported alcohol is traded through the major emirates of Abu Dhabi ($14.6 million), Dubai ($89.1 million), and Sharjah ($3.5 million). Customs Tariffs Most imported food products in UAE are subject to 5% customs duty, except for staple goods and fresh produce which are exempt from duty. The duty on alcoholic beverages is 30%. An additional sales tax of 50% is levied on all alcoholic beverages sold in Dubai. Legislation The sale of spirits is permitted in dedicated retail stores and licensed outlets such as restaurants, bars and night clubs that are either part of a hotel or selected sports clubs. Stand- alone retail outlets like grocery stores, supermarkets and restaurants are not authorized to sell or serve alcohol. All hotels serving alcoholic beverages in their facilities are required to have a valid liquor license issued by the local police authorities. Similarly, consumers are expected to have a liquor license to be able to consume alcohol legally. Although consumers are not asked to show their liquor license before being served, it is advisable that they have it with them while drinking. To be able to purchase alcohol, eligible residents of UAE should have a valid liquor license. The license is an annual permit issued by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police Department in each Emirate. It is only issued to non-Muslim residents of UAE who are at least 21 years of age and have a monthly income of at least Dhs.3,000 (US$815). The license is valid in the issuing Emirate only and entitles the holder to buy, consume and transport alcohol throughout the seven Emirates. The license sets the maximum monthly amount the holder is entitled to buy based on his/her monthly salary. The law prohibits the holder of a license to sell alcoholic beverages to a third party. Any criminal offense resulting from the influence of alcohol is severely punished by law. Violations and Penalties The consumption of alcoholic beverages in public is strictly prohibited in the UAE. Muslim offenders are punished as per the Islamic Shariah law. Expatriates are penalized by paying a fine, confiscation of their driving license, serving jail term, and possibly deportation to their home country. There is zero tolerance towards driving under the influence of alcohol. To help avoid the strict penalties, consumers under the influence of alcohol are advised to take a taxi home or use the services provided by organizations such as Safer Driver in UAE (www.saferdriver.ae), which sends a chauffeur to drive the client home in his/her own vehicle. Of all the seven Emirates, trade and consumption of alcohol in Sharjah is strictly forbidden. Sharjah is considered a ‘dry emirate’, with the exception of Sharjah Wanderers Sports Club which is the only place in the Emirate in which alcohol is allowed. The only retailer of alcoholic beverages in Sharjah is the Duty Free store at Sharjah International Airport. Although Sharjah is considered a dry Emirate, it is legal for holders of a liquor license from other Emirates to bring alcohol into Sharjah for personal use. Market Segments and Distribution Channels Alcoholic beverages trade in UAE can be divided into three broad segments: 1. On-Trade and Off-Trade channels 2. Duty Free and Dubai Ports 3. Re-Export to other countries The terms on-trade and off-trade usually refer to sales of any product that requires licensing, which includes alcoholic beverages. In the United States the terms ‘on-premise’ and ‘off- premise’ are more commonly used, whereas in UK ‘on-license’ or ‘off-license’ is commonly used. In all cases, ‘on-trade’ is used to refer to consumption on the premises where alcohol is bought (hotels, bars, restaurants, night clubs) and ‘off-trade’ for consumption off/or away from the premises (retail stores). Almost 75% of alcoholic beverages traded in UAE are sourced through on-trade and 25% through off-trade channels. With a total of 137 four and five star hotels, Dubai alone has more than 1200 on-trade outlets such as restaurants, pubs and night clubs. Duty free stores at the UAE ports form the second largest segment of alcohol trade in the UAE given the large number of passengers visiting the country every year. Passenger traffic in Dubai Airports reached a historic 51 million in 2011, coinciding with the airport’s 51st year of operations. Abu Dhabi Airports reported a record 12.4 million of passengers in 2011, whereas Sharjah Airport received 6.6 million passengers. In 2011 more than 11 million guests stayed in hotels in the UAE, with Dubai hosting more than 80% of the total in its 371 hotels. Ongoing expansion projects in the UAE airports and the construction of new hotels reflect the anticipated growth in the number of visitors expected in the near future, which is likely to result in a surge in consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages. Trade data released by the customs authority in each emirate indicate that the value of re- exported of alcoholic products reached almost US$7.4 million in 2010, about 7% of total imports. The top 10 re-export countries by value of exports are shown below. 2010 UAE RE-EXPORT BY VALUE Country Value ( USD ) Weight ( Kg ) SAUDI ARABIA 1,386,548 873,335 SULTANATE OF OMAN 891,072 635,726 SRI LANKA 571,837 33,000 GERMANY 475,259 93,647 UK (UNITED KINGDOM) 440,220 86,615 AUSTRALIA 431,047 34,536 SOUTH AFRICA 331,374 105,741 ITALY 312,790 91,321 LEBANON 203,479 1,353 IRAQ 200,073 152,709 Major Distributors In the UAE, the number of importers and distributers of alcoholic beverages is restricted to a select few. Two major distributors in Dubai: African and Eastern (a+e) and Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI). MMI is a subsidiary of the Emirates Group holding around 57% of the market share whereas African & Eastern (40% owned by SAB Miller), has 43% of the market share. African and Eastern operates 24 retail stores in the UAE (16 in Dubai and 8 in Abu Dhabi), and Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI) operates 13 stores located in Dubai and the Northern Emirates. Both companies are licensed to stock, distribute, and retail alcohol in approved locations all over UAE through their warehousing facilities and network of retail stores. A third distributor in Dubai is Coastal Communities Distribution (CCD) owned by the Dubai based Nakheel Company, which is licensed to distribute exclusively to the coastal communities of the Palm Jumeirah and The World projects. The Palm Jumeirah is a man- made island resort in the form of a palm tree with about 50 restaurants, 4 five star hotels and 13 beach clubs, all with permits to serve alcohol to their clients. The World project, still in its development stage, is a collection of artificial islands in the form of the world, located off the coast of Dubai. In Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH), a leading hospitality group, is one of the major distributors of alcoholic beverages in some five star hotels. ADNH is a joint venture company with the UK based Compass Group, one of the largest catering companies in the world. Two other major distributors in Abu Dhabi are African Eastern and Gray MacKenzie & Partners, the liquor arm of Abu Dhabi Maritime and Mercantile International (ADMMI). A number of other companies based in Dubai and the Northern Emirates supply to the UAE market. One retailer based in the Northern Emirate of Umm Al Quwain (UAQ) operates a retail store with an annual turnover which almost equals the total sales of one of the major distributors in Dubai. Its success is due to the 50% sales tax applied on retail stores in Dubai which is non-existent in the Northern Emirates. Advertising and Promotional Activities Given religious sensitivities, openly advertising alcoholic beverages in newspapers and mass media is prohibited. Showing product names, brands and pictures of alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the UAE. Advertisements and promotions are carried out in closed doors at the point of sale, through on-trade and off-trade channels. Even window displays in licensed retail stores are not allowed. Any offense in this regard is considered a violation resulting in revocation of the liquor license. The same applies if the retailer sells alcoholic beverages to clients not holding a license. Liquor companies may hold events such as sampling and in-store weekly promotions on selected products. Flyers, magazines, banners and other printed media are distributed during these various promotional events. Liquor catalogues including discount vouchers are distributed free of charge at authorized retail stores. Similar promotional activities are carried out through on-trade channels in pubs, bars, restaurants, and night clubs that are part of a hotel or sports club. Market Size and Direct Trade Data In the absence of unified trade data base in the UAE, figures shown in the tables below were compiled from the Customs Authorities of the three largest Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah where most of the trades take place. About $107 million worth of alcoholic beverages were imported in 2010 of which $7.4 million were re-exported to neighboring countries. UAE ALCOHOL TRADE IN 2010 (IN USD)* IMPORT RE-EXPORT HS. Desc Value Weight Value Weight ription Code (USD) (Kilos) (USD) (Kilos) 22 03 Beer made from malt 10,140,081 15,379,873 460,688 405,463 Sparkling wine, Wine of fresh grapes & grape must with fermentation 22 04 prevented or arrested by the addition 49,970,722 10,019,914 2,916,874 613,908 of alcohol, in containers holding 2 liters or less. Vermouth and other wine of fresh grapes flavored with plants or 22 05 28,826 7,888 377 70 aromatic substances in containers holding 2L or less Other fermented beverages (ex. cider, 22 06 711,046 728,897 166,220 13,736 perry, mead); mixtures of fermented beverages & non-alcoholic beverages Undenatured ethyl alcohol of strength by volume of 80% or higher, including 2207 concentrates of alcoholic beverages; 26,259,479 24,296,358 1,910,589 1,021,616 Denatured Ethyl Alcohol and other spirits of any strength Spirits obtained by distilling grape wine or grape marc, Whisky, Rum and other spirits obtained by distilling 22 08 20,046,757 3,460,600 1,919,793 606,704 fermented sugar-cane products, Gin & Geneva, Vodka, Liqueurs & Cordials, Spirits & spirituous beverages. TOTAL $107,156,912 53,893,530 $7,374,540 2,661,497 The total value of imported alcoholic beverages from the United States in 2010 reached $3 million, about 3% of all imports. Wine makes up almost 45% of the total alcoholic beverage imports from the U.S. and beer about 35%. Not all the wineries in the United States are aware that some of their brands are available in the UAE market, the reason being that some products are usually brought in by third party companies who consolidate shipments from different wine distributors in the United States. This situation is similar to U.S. food manufacturers that rely on exporting companies to sell their products in foreign markets. The following alcoholic beverages are some of the U.S. brands available in the UAE market. Wine: 14 Hands, Andrew Quady, Benziger, Beringer,Blossom Hill, Bonny Doon, Cakebread, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Conn Creek, Cooks, Domaine Drouhin, Duckhorn Vineyards, E&J Gallo Winery, Erath, Esser, Fetzer, Frog’s Leap, Grgich Hills Estate, Hartford Court, Hawk Crest, Heitz Cellars, Highland Estate, Joseph Phelps, Kendall Jackson, Matanzas Creek, Northstar, Oakville, Paul Masson, Ravenswood, Ridge, Robert Mondavi, Saintsbury, Seghesio, Smoking Loon, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Stonehedge, Swanson Winery, Yountville. Beer: Budweiser, Miller Whiskey & Bourbon: Ancient Age 10 Star, Baker’s Bourbon, Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, Bernheim Wheat Whiskey, Booker’s Bourbon, Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, Early Times, Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, Fighting Cock, Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam Bourbon, Knob Creek Bourbon Whisky, Maker’s Mark, Mellow Corn Whiskey, Pappy Van Winkle, Parker’s Heritage Collection, Rittenhouse, Wild Turkey Rye, Woodford Reserve, Old Premium Bourbon. Other Spirits: Gilbey’s Gin. USA – UAE Direct trade data: 2010 USA - UAE DIRECT TRADE TOTAL* TOTAL IMPORT TOTAL RE-EXPORT H. S. Desc Value Value ription Weight Code (USD) Weight (USD) (Kg) (Kg) 22 03 Beer made from malt 601,125 589,500 0 0 Wines of fresh grapes, including fortified 22 04 wines, sparkling wines, Grape Must, 1,353,139 153,267 73,504 10,794 Vermouth & others Undenatured ethyl alcohol of strength by 2207 volume of 80% or higher, Denatured Ethyl 203,527 102,494 0 0 Alcohol and other spirits of any strength Spirits & spirituous beverages, Whiskies, 22 08 Rum, Gin & Geneva, Vodka, Liqueurs & 871,893 133,807 0 0 Cordials TOTAL $3,029,684 979,068 $73,504 10,794 BEER: UAE IMPORT BY VALUE (2010) HS Code 2203: Alcoholic beer made from malt Country Value (USD) Weight (Kg) NETHERLANDS 5,512,820 8,946,249 USA 601,125 589,500 UK (UNITED KINGDOM) 570,835 577,790 ITALY 504,476 652,657 AUSTRALIA 503,179 1,258,805 BELGIUM 480,365 739,349 GERMANY 437,427 505,008 TURKEY 370,794 450,451 MEXICO 363,850 398,065 IRELAND 225,115 390,460 BEER: UAE RE-EXPORT BY VALUE (2010) HS CODE 2203: Alcoholic beer made from malt Country Value (USD) Weight (Kg) SULTANATE OF OMAN 334,274 311,624 IRAQ 69,974 50,145 KUWAIT 12,355 9,451 SOUTH AFRICA 11,339 5,507 PAKISTAN 7,847 16,943 GERMANY 7,454 1,829 ITALY 6,017 3,724 UK (UNITED KINGDOM) 4,717 1,709 MAURITIUS 3,135 2,138 CHINA 1,985 1,789 WINE: UAE IMPORT TRADE BY VALUE (2010) HS Code 2204: Sparkling wine, Wine of fresh grapes & grape must with fermentation prevented or arrested by the addition of alcohol, in containers holding 2 liters or less. HS Code 2205: Vermouth & other wine of fresh grapes flavored with plants or aromatic substances, in containers holding 2 liters or less. Country Value (USD) Weight (Kg) FRANCE 28,436,670 2,653,819 AUSTRALIA 5,686,190 1,348,987 SOUTH AFRICA 3,003,764 958,648 ITALY 2,536,698 498,433 SPAIN 2,085,353 533,446 UK (UNITED KINGDOM) 1,659,371 2,588,325 NEW ZEALAND 1,448,496 315,387 USA 1,353,139 153,267 CHILE 971,861 356,971 ARGENTINA 785,561 239,123 WINE: UAE RE-EXPORT TRADE BY VALUE (2010) HS Code 2204: Sparkling wine, Wine of fresh grapes & grape must with fermentation prevented or arrested by the addition of alcohol, in containers holding 2 liters or less. HS Code 2205: Vermouth & other wine of fresh grapes flavored with plants or aromatic substances, in containers holding 2 L or less. Country Value (USD) Weight (Kg) AUSTRALIA 402,839 31,399 GERMANY 359,728 73,238 UK (UNITED KINGDOM) 320,446 67,131 SULTANATE OF OMAN 317,092 132,266 ITALY 241,508 66,429 SOUTH AFRICA 198,022 47,861 CHINA 157,667 33,801 SWITZERLAND 122,147 20,479 HONG KONG 93,613 14,126 USA 73,504 10,794 MIXTURES OF FERMENTED BEVERAGES: UAE IMPORT BY VALUE (2010) HS Code 2206: Other fermented beverages (for example, cider, perry, mead); mixtures of fermented beverages & mixtures of fermented beverages & non-alcoholic beverages. Country Value (USD) Weight (Kg) UNITED KINGDOM 530,749 510,699 PHILIPPINES 53,678 80,267 SOUTH AFRICA 42,208 26,864 AUSTRALIA 36,989 105,620 GERMANY 23,617 2,275 JAPAN 21,873 2,627 IRELAND 902 360 FRANCE 748 175 SWEDEN 283 10 MIXTURES OF FERMENTED BEVERAGES: UAE RE-EXPORT BY VALUE (2010) HS Code 2206: Other fermented beverages (for example, cider, perry, mead); mixtures of fermented beverages & mixtures of fermented beverages & non-alcoholic beverages. Country Value in USD Weight in Kg. UNITED KINGDOM 40,064 4,046 FRANCE 25,578 482 JAPAN 16,274 1,503 AUSTRALIA 16,267 1,368 GERMANY 15,213 1,061 QATAR 11,382 2,625 IRELAND 9,460 442 SOUTH AFRICA 6,107 372 SINGAPORE 5,865 880 THAILAND 5,676 262 UNDENATURED AND DENATURED ALCOHOL IMPORT BY VALUE (2010) HS Code 2207: Undenatured ethyl alcohol of strength by volume of 80% or higher, including concentrates of alcoholic beverages; Denatured Ethyl Alcohol and other spirits of any strength. Country Value (USD) Weight (Kg) SOUTH AFRICA 16,141,758 14,847,084 PAKISTAN 7,379,772 7,756,069 FRANCE 941,360 700,476 GERMANY 656,593 351,979 UNITED KINGDOM 372,091 233,490 USA 203,527 102,494 VIETNAM 110,091 103,120 CHINA 103,476 80,035 SAUDI ARABIA 100,519 10,801 INDIA 57,495 45,722 UNDENATURED AND DENATURED ALCOHOL RE-EXPORT BY VALUE (2010) HS Code 2207: Undenatured ethyl alcohol of strength by volume of 80% or higher, including concentrates of alcoholic beverages; Denatured Ethyl Alcohol and other spirits of any strength. SAUDI ARABIA 1,386,548 873,335 LEBANON 201,067 1,150 IRAN 123,618 87,611 MALDIVES 81,796 5,000 KUWAIT 45,050 11,075 IRAQ 29,426 29,400 ETHIOPIA 20,612 11,125 PAKISTAN 11,359 457 SUDAN 4,498 45 OMAN 2,532 1,000 SPIRITS AND SPIRITUOUS BEVERAGES UAE IMPORT BY VALUE (2010) HS Code 2208: Spirits obtained by distilling grape wine or grape marc, Whiskies (whisky), Rum and other spirits obtained by distilling fermented sugar-cane products, Gin & Geneva, Vodka, Liqueurs & cordials, Spirits & spirituous beverages. Country Value (USD) Weight (Kilos) UNITED KINGDOM 10,596,760 1,583,852 FRANCE 2,986,961 348,669 USA 891,755 134,523 SWEDEN 642,176 148,050 RUSSIA 603,076 124,022 NETHERLANDS 590,453 103,082 ITALY 494,477 139,934 MEXICO 481,933 99,752 BAHAMAS 457,433 102,216 IRELAND 374,502 79,835 SPIRITS AND SPIRITUOUS BEVERAGES UAE RE-EXPORT BY VALUE (2010) HS Code 2208: Spirits obtained by distilling grape wine or grape marc, Whiskies (whisky), Rum and other spirits obtained by distilling fermented sugar-cane products, Gin & Geneva, Vodka, Liqueurs & cordials, Spirits & spirituous beverages. Country Value in USD Weight in Kg SRI LANKA 571,837 33,000 SULTANATE OF OMAN 239,706 191,836 ERITREA 150,173 14,147 INDIA 118,421 16,957 SOUTH AFRICA 115,906 52,001 GERMANY 92,864 17,519 BAHRAIN 90,378 65,595 IRAQ 80,816 66,139 UNITED KINGDOM 74,993 13,729 OMAN 67,657 24,600 Prospects for increased U.S. alcoholic beverages exports to the UAE Over the last few years the UAE economy spurred by a vibrant tourism industry and government investments in infrastructures has been recovering from the economic downturn. This trend is expected to continue as UAE Authorities have embarked on new massive infrastructural projects that include a new airport and expansion of existing ones, a national rail freight project to link all the Emirates, expansion of ports, as well as addition of hundreds of new hotels. While these projects will create immediate employment for many expatriates, when completed, they are expected to significantly boost tourism. The increasing number of hotels and food service establishments, and thousands of tourists visiting the country including those attending conferences, are expected to boost the demand for alcoholic beverages. U.S. wines, in particular medium priced ones are well positioned to compete with wines from other countries. Another area of opportunity for U.S. wines is the flight catering sector, which is also growing at a rapid rate. However, only companies willing to engage in long-term contracts with catering companies in this sector have a greater chance to capture a share of the market.
Posted: 29 June 2012

See more from Food , Beverages and Tobacco in the United Arab Emirates

Expert Views    
UAE- Food and Agricultural Import Regulations   By Foreign Agricultural Service
Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards   By Foreign Agricultural Service
UAE-Food and Agricultural Import Regulations   By Foreign Agricultural Service
Hot Tips    
Food Laws in United Arab Emirates   By Foreign Agricultural Service
Importation of Milk Products in United Arab Emirates   By Foreign Agricultural Service