Increase in Retail Stores and Bars Propelling the Demand of Spirits in UAE: Ken Research


The UAE spirits sector is led by the whiskey category in both value and volume terms. Spirit is a fermented mixture and a potable alcoholic beverage. The bulk of the imported alcohol is traded through the major emirates of Abu Dhabi ($14.6 million) and Dubai ($89.1 million). 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. Spirits are classified into many terms such as brandy, whiskey, rum, gin and vodka.

The sale of spirits is permitted in dedicated retail stores and licensed outlet such as bars, restaurants and night clubs. All hotels serving alcoholic beverages in their facilities are required to have a valid liquor license issued by the local police authorities. The license is an annual permit issued by the Criminal Investigation Department 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)

According to study, “Country Profile: Spirits in the UAE” some of the major companies that are working in the UAE for spirits are PernodRicard SA, Diageo plc, William Grant & Sons Ltd., Emperador Distillers Inc., LVMH Moet Hennessy – Louis Vuitton.

Trade of spirits in country can be divided into three broad segments, which are; on-trade & off-trade channels, duty free & Dubai ports and re-export to other countries. On-trade is used to refer to consumption on the premises where alcohol is bought like hotels, bars, night clubs etc. Off-trade is used to refer to consumption off/or away from the retail store. On-trade transactions accounted for the largest volume share in the distribution of Spirits in the country. Dubai alone has more than 1200 on-trade outlets such as restaurants, pubs and night clubs.

The number of importers and distributers of alcoholic beverages are restricted to slow. In Dubai, there are two major distributors; African & Eastern and Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI). MMI holds around 57% of the market share whereas African & Eastern holds 43% of the market share.

The spirit sector can be divided on the basis of packaging material such as glass, paper & board, rigid plastics, flexible packaging and rigid metals etc. Glass is the most commonly used package material. Moreover pack types are bottle, bag-in-box, carton-liquid, stand up pouch and can etc. There are many brands available for spirits. Some wine brands are Conn creek, Esser, Smoking loon, Joseph Phelps, E & J Gallo winery, Cooks, Swanson Winery, Ridge, Frog’s Leap and Oakville etc. Budweiser and Miller are brands of Beer. Additionally, some of the prominent whiskey’s brands are Booker’s Bourbon, Maker’s Mark, Mellow Corn Whiskey, Parker’s Heritage collection, jack daniel’s, fighting cock, early times and buffalo trace etc.

The spirits sector in the country is estimated to forecast to grow at 7% CAGR in value terms during 2016-2021. Per capita consumption in Whiskey market high in UAE compared to the other markets. All of the major producers are innovating, redefining and creating new categories in the spirits industry. In 2018, major trends of spirits are premium drinks, craft beer, craft spirits, sparkling wine, blended drinks, healthy options non-alcoholic options and convenience. 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.

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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications



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