By Michael Jabri-Pickett
The country’s penal code does not specifically address the issue of non-Muslims drinking in the Holy Month
What is legal for non-Muslims during Ramadan in the UAE can be a confusing question for those who are not familiar with the law, says Hassan Elhais, a legal consultant with Al Rowad Advocates and Legal Consultants.
There are misconceptions about eating and drinking for non-Muslims during the Holy Month, said Elhais, who has been practicing law in the UAE for 12 years.
Keeping in mind that the UAE is a Muslim country, the leadership has remained fair and tolerant towards all ethnic and religious groups that live in the Emirates.
The law in the UAE as it concerns eating and drinking during Ramadan is clearer than many may think, but the majority are not aware because they rarely read the actual law. Instead, they rely on interpretations of it as repeated by others.
Several individuals who have ended up in court for eating or drinking during the day often stand before the judge defending themselves arguing that they are non-Muslims. Once confronted with what the law states, however, they often say they did not know. Unfortunately, ignorance is not an excuse.
The UAE’s penal code addresses the issue of eating and drinking for non-Muslims. Rather, Article 313 states simply says that a person who publicly eats or drinks during the day during Ramadan, or encourages the act of eating or drinking publicly can face imprisonment not longer than a month or a fine not to exceed AED2,000.
The same article says that if it is a shop that encouraged the act of publicly eating and drinking, then it could face being closed for a month.
Article 314 says the Minister of Interior has the authority to shut down any shop he believes helps to encourage the act of public eating or drinking during the Holy Month.