Getting a beer in a Muslim country has always been difficult, so news that a craft brewery has opened United Arab Emirates signals a momentous shift.
Here’s the deal…
The United Arab Emirates is an elective monarchy formed from a federation of seven emirates, consisting of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah…It’s a Muslim region where up until recently, getting a beer, or drinking alcohol in general, was a difficult proposition enforced by draconian laws that could land you in prison. But in 2021 new laws took effect which are seen by some as shockingly progressive in a region where Islam is the dominate religion.
Under the new regulations consumption of alcohol is no longer a criminal offence and a license fee is no longer required for residents or tourists to enjoy even one beer. A person still must be at least 21 to buy alcohol legally in the UAE, and just as in the US anyone caught selling alcohol to someone underage can be punished.
Alcohol production is also now allowed which laid the foundation for Craft by Side Hustle, the first brewing facility in the UAE which was created in partnership between local restaurant entrepreneurs and the producer Side Hustle Brews & Spirits.
Although the new brewery the facility can’t package brews for distribution at other venues or retail outlets “Craft by Side Hustle” has ten active tap lines, and plans to brew as many as 75 different brews made across the next 12 months.
The brewpub is located in The Galleria Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. The brand has previously sold beers in the UAE that contract brewed in Pennsylvania, but now the brewery is the first to produce beer United Arab Emirates.
Craft by Side Hustle’s opening comes as the UAE looks to expand its tourism reach and attract more visitors.
“The production of alcohol is still banned outright in many countries across the region,” according to the Drinks Business. “But recently Dubai has expanded its bar and restaurant licenses to retail outlets, as well as free-standing hospitality venues which aren’t attached to hotels and similar facilities.”