UAE RULES … UAE relaxes laws relating to moral codes, property rights


ABU DHABI: UAE, one of the best-governed nations in the world, has relaxed its rules linked to moral code and property holdings, in tune with the changing social aspirations. Notably, the new law relaxes rules on drinking and allows unmarried couples to co-habit.

The changes in law will have significant bearing on the expatriate population here too, of which Indians form over 30 per cent of the population – they numbering some 3.4million. The Gulf nations are mostly run on Islamist traditions but keeps fundamentalist streaks under strict control. Rulers are from the Sunni sect of Islam.

Among the principal changes, restrictions on use of alcohol has been limited to only those below age 21, but drinks are allowed only at designated places, not in public. The emirate of Dubai already had a system of allowing drinks at designated hotels and bars. The requirement of obtaining a licence for drinking has been removed.

Another change in law makes it clear that consensual sex between adults is not a crime. Kissing in public places earlier invited a jail term, but now it will result only in a fine.

Sex with mentally challenged, blood relatives and children will remain prohibited. In matters of prostitution, the names of the accused and witnesses will not be released in public space and confidentiality will be ensured. No jail for any act of public indecency; only a fine will be imposed.

Honour killings will now be punishable as any other crime, with a jail sentence; no death penalty. Those attempting suicide will be treated with sympathy, not harshly, and sent for treatment. Expatriates’ inheritance matters will be decided as per laws of the respective nationality, it is made clear.

The new rules were brought into force by way of a proclamation signed by UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Dubai, one of the emirates in the UAE, is a tourist-friendly city, modern in its infrastructure and shopping facilities, and its main income comes from tourism and as a hub for trade and re-exports. It has little of oil wealth, but gets generous oil supply from Abu Dhabi, the emirate that forms the centre of the UAE. Abu Dhabi, as also Sharjah, was conservative in its mould.

Reported the Gulf News, quoting WAM news agency: “In line with the UAE’s ongoing endeavours to develop its legislative foundations and its status as global destination for foreign investment and expertise, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued a number of presidential decrees amending some articles in the Personal Status Law, the Federal Penal Code, and the Federal Penal Procedural Law.”

It added: “The decrees, which details changes in the laws concerning such vital matters as expatriates’ wills and inheritance, marriage and divorce, the indecency laws, sexual and harassment crimes including the so-called ‘honour crimes’, among others, have been issued to enhance the legislative foundations in line with the country’s commitment to and belief in tolerance principles that are in accordance with the UAE’s cultural identity and to boost its status and capability as one of the world’s most attractive destinations socially and economically for foreign expertise and investment.” IHN-NN


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