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Sun 21 Mar 2010 11:41 AM

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EXCLUSIVE: Dubai issues 'alcohol in food' ban to hotels

Ban sparks mass confusion among restaurants after official letter.

EXCLUSIVE: Dubai issues 'alcohol in food' ban to hotels
BOOZE BAN: Alcohol is strictly prohibited in the preparation of food, the official letter said. (Getty Images)

Dubai Municipality has issued a letter banning the use of alcohol in cooking in a move that could potentially be a big blow for the city’s restaurants and hotels.

However, the move has sparked mass confusion in the industry leading to officials to rethink the ban. They are now set to issue revised restrictions on Tuesday, sources said.

The letter, a copy of which has been seen by Arabian Business, states the use of alcohol in the preparation and cooking of food, and the display and sale of food containing alcohol was “strictly prohibited”.

It is reinforcing an existing law issued in 2003. Muhammed Khalid Saeed, food health inspection officer at the Food Control Department at the municipality was not available for comment.

David O’Brien, operations director of Caprice Holdings, which runs the Rivington Grill restaurant in Souq Al Bahar, said he did not know why the law was now being fully enforced.

“It just means that it limits the scope of what we can serve. To do some dishes you need to have alcohol, like a coq au vin needs red wine, or beer for a traditional beer batter. It limits the repertoire.

He said the Rivington Grill was still using alcohol in some of its dishes until further clarification from the municipality. But, some hotels have already implemented the ban.

Uwe Micheel, president of the Emirates Culinary Guild and director of kitchens at the Radisson Blu Dubai Creek, said he thought the ban would be dropped but stricter rules brought in.

“We’ve spoken with the municipality and right now it’s going to be reconsidered and a new circular issued on Tuesday. It will not be as tough but there will be some restrictions coming,” he said.

“The way I see it, most probably, there will have to be a separate menu for dishes cooked with alcohol and separate storage – much like the restrictions that exist for pork.

“They don’t want to hurt the industry but they get a lot of complaints from Muslims about too much mixing of alcohol on menus.”

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Mounir 10 years ago

An easy solution is to put an "A" next to any item prepared with alcohol and leave the choice up to the consumer. Those who wish to eat foods prepared with alcohol (knowing full well that there actually is no alcohol in the food itself) can do so without forcing themselves upon others.

ahmed 10 years ago

Great!!...just the type of PR we need in these difficult times to boost tourism and business...

DXBHeadhunter 10 years ago

Here is a random idea, how about universal requirements for better trained waiting staff and clearer menus that highlight where alcohol has been used (as many restaurants already provide)? How can you complain about alcohol being used in a food dish when you are sat in a licensed establishment that is serving alcohol all around you!?!

Brit happy to be here 10 years ago

They do mark on menus when dishes include alcohol - it clearly states at the bottom of the page, that A means alcohol - have also heard a waiter advising an Arab gentleman that there was alcohol used in the preparation of a dish. There must have been a bit of an issue with this one to cause such a dramatic ban - oh well

Mohamed Abdul najeeb Ajward Al Fassy 10 years ago

i think this is the 1st step to stop using Alcohol, and i would be glad and well come if we can Implement sooner with Total ban in UAE.

Dr.d 10 years ago

Many foods that use alcohol do so for the properties of the liquor used and that most if not all of the alcohol is cooked out by the heat. Alcohol evaporates with very little heat. The exception of course would be cold desserts. Either way, I've always seen foods marked "Contains Alcohol" for things cooked with alcohol.

UAE resident 10 years ago

Being a muslim, I welcome this stance taken by Dubai municipality, although it should have been here since a long time. As said by Brit Happy, yes 'A' can be posted on the menu however the use of same utensils and isolation of alcohol from a non alcohol eater's cooking cannot be guaranteed in the kitchen which is widely using it. It is haraam(forbidden) to eat , sell, share and even promote alcohol in islam. It is good to see the initiative taken by the DM. Hope it is here to stay !!!!

N.S. 10 years ago

Dear Mohamed Abdul, First of all it's "welcome" and not "well come". Secondly I am not an alchool drinker and if it will be banned I won't cry, I can stay years without drinking. But in order to get things straight forward, the reason why alchool is allowed is not to please who drinks but it's merely commercial and a global tourist destination can't possibly stay without. Therefore don't bet too much for a ban, at least not any time soon.

nl 10 years ago

Why are there Muslims in alcohol serving restaurants in the first place? A practicing Muslim wouldn't go to those places because he or she knows that it's the same as drinking.

rano 10 years ago

Being in an Islamic country, I ve never thought that they would be be using Alcohol in dishes. as a muslim being in "muslim country" automatically food should be halal and doesn't contain alcohol. I think that they should at least put a big signs in hotel's restaurant stating that the use alcohol in some of the dishes, so we would be carefull when ordering....