x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Restaurants told to comply with alcohol law

Restaurants in areas including Souk Al Bahar and Madinat Jumeirah, which are not housed within hotel buildings, have been told to hide away their alcohol supplies out of sight of customers.

Restaurant-goers in Dubai might wonder where all the bottles have gone.

Stand-alone restaurants in Dubai that have an alcohol licence through a hotel - but are located outside hotel buildings - have been ordered to remove displays of liquor to comply with existing regulations. Some restaurants in Dubai are having to redesign their interiors, and managers are concerned that business may be hurt by the order from the Dubai Police.

"We received this notification two weeks' back," said Lester Remedios, the restaurant manager at the Meat Company steak-house at Madinat Jumeirah.

"When we received it, we removed the displays immediately."

He said two large wine racks and many more bottles of spirits that once lined the bar were integral to the restaurant's ambience. All of these were transferred to a private dining room, he said.

Managers at the popular Left Bank bar in Souk Al Bahar confirmed they had also removed all bottles from view.

The latest regulations follow a law enacted last year prohibiting stand-alone bars and restaurants from serving alcohol after midnight. Sources at such outlets in Dubai said the new strictures made it more difficult to turn a profit.

The Dubai Police sent a notice to general managers of hotels citing reports that, in addition to serving alcoholic drinks, establishments were also displaying liquor "in specific racks and showcases, which is a [violation] of the laws and rules related to the service of alcoholic drinks in any specified restaurant in the Emirate of Dubai".

"Therefore, you are hereby instructed to please, immediately, arrange the removal of all alcoholic drinks, which are being displayed," the notice stated.

It added that there was no objection "to the displaying of only waters, of any types, in these particular racks and showcases".

Mr Remedios described the edict as "tough" for restaurants. "When we enter the peak months, then the ambience looks very dull," he said.

"We're fortunate that this notification came now, because next month we're closing down for one month for a renovation anyway."

The latest order had forced the Meat Company to alter the design of the restaurant, he said.

"We're modifying our design. The next design we're coming up with has a wine cellar, so we can stock all the wine in one place."