UAE announced a historic change in its Islamic laws on Saturday (7th November). According to the reports, new UAE law promotes the principle of tolerance as the country inches towards modernization. The drastic change indicates that UAE has finally lived up to its reputation of an attractive, sky-scrapper filled tourist destination by liberalizing its society.
This move is especially profitable after the historic deal to normalize relationship with Israel. It can bring several tourists and investors along with their cash to spend at various opportunities. The rigid Islamic laws have troubled many expats in the UAE and kept other professionals from becoming expats.
In an attempt to boost the country’s economic and social standing among other nations, UAE has made following changes in their Islamic law:
New UAE Law Allows Unmarried Couples To Live Together
Perhaps the most notable change was allowing unmarried couples to live together, including Muslims. It means that non-marital sex is perfectly legal as long as it’s consensual. Public display of affection (PDA) has been decriminalized which means that the couples would not be imprisoned anymore for kissing and cuddling in the public. However, they will be fined instead.
It is widely believed that such relaxation of rules would attract more tourists in UAE that will result in more investment. Where there is a safe haven for love birds, there is also a harsh punishment for predatory vultures. Those having sexual relations with a minor or mentally challenged, will face death penalty. Sexual harassment in general will result in more tough punishments than more.
Divorce Laws Are Free From Islam
Regardless of religion, couples can file divorce under the laws of the country where they got married. Previously, the couple was forced to divorce under the Sharia law which included division of assets, child custody, and payment support. Moreover, if the couple was of different nationalities, then the law preferred male’s nationality. Expats in UAE were not accustomed to such laws, which is why UAE decided to relax in order to attract more expats.
Now everyone’s path to divorce will be directed by their own country’s laws rather than Sharia law. It will help the couple to quickly finalize divorce without lengthy processes and conflict over choosing whose laws should be applicable.
Criminalization of Honor Killing
UAE stepped up to protect women against the problematic laws that defended ‘honor’ killing. Misguided Muslims often killed their female relatives, if they were caught having an affair, or sexual relationship with a man. They conveniently established a punishment called ‘honor’ killing by using Islam, which somehow justified their action and saved them from severe punishment. Sadly, these cursed rituals are carried over to many Muslim countries. Recently, a man in Pakistan killed their own son and daughter-in-law for consummating their marriage.
Tourists and expats widely condemned this law for being extremely barbaric. Such change in the UAE’s penal code is a big welcoming gesture for more couples to enjoy their lives freely in the Emirates. Those who perpetrate the so called ‘honor’ killing any longer will face life imprisonment or death penalty.
UAE has a complicated law for inheritance under Sharia which is biased towards men. New UAE law gave expats the option to choose which law would be applied to their inheritance. This would help in stabilizing the financial interests of foreign investors, who maybe terrified from earlier laws.
Under previous law, a larger share would go to male heirs due to the expectation that men would support women. Female heir would only receive the half of the assets her male siblings might receive. However, the country is updating the laws to welcome expats and their cultures to UAE.
Ever since the coronavirus outbreak, law firms in UAE have received an increased number of will inquiries. It is a slow but progressive step towards making the country, tolerating, welcoming, and accessible for expats.
Legalizing Alcohol Consumption
Previously, people were prosecuted for consuming alcohol without license, even in their homes. Now drinking is not a criminal offense. Earlier, Muslims were not even able to get the license at all, while non-Muslims had to pay annual fee for the license.
It is a progressive change that makes the country more tolerant of people’s lifestyles, without considering their religion.