The United Arab Emirates has recently announced massive changes to the country’s criminal and civil legislation. These amendments comprised of the decriminalization of the consumption of alcohol. The president of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has issued the federal law decrees that tend to alter the penal code, criminal procedural laws, civil transactions, and personal status regulations to boost up the legislative environment of the UAE as a whole.

This initiative taken by the government of the UAE is beneficial in many ways. It entwines the principle of tolerance within the community and strengthens the position of the country as the credible and authorized location of people across the globe to work and reside in. Millions of expatriates are residing in the UAE currently.

The changes were referred to in the local newspaper as among the biggest overhauls with the country’s legal system. It is because the newspaper is a common and popular source of information especially for those who have a knack for updated information. The new legislation reflects the country’s progressive measures targeted at improving the living standards of its residents. The recent changes are seen to be a huge step in making the UAE the number one destination in the Middle East and the rest of the globe for foreign investment. 

What Are the Implications of this New Legislation?

Numerous changes in the laws have recently been announced. They will surely have a considerable impact on UAE residents and some notable consequences, particularly expatriates as laws of residents’ country of origin now apply for some matters such as divorce. Based on the solid commitment of the UAE in protecting the rights of women, amendments to criminal procedural law and penal code have repealed the article. This eventually gives reduced sentences to honor crimes.

In cases of separation or divorce for UAE expatriates, the country’s laws where the wedding or marriage ceremony took place will be applied. The courts can mediate joint assets division, including that of joint accounts. Divisions of assets for ex-pats that have died without leaving a will and all other cases of wills will now be handled under the legislation of the resident’s country of nationality. This is introduced in the place of the Shariah law which was how they were handled in the past.

Under the changes, attempted suicide and suicide are also decriminalized. Anyone who has survived an attempt in taking their life would have been prosecuted with the earlier laws.

Alcohol consumption as well was decriminalized. Those who are drinking or seen in possession of alcoholic drinks will not be facing penalties. This includes the selling of alcohol within authorized areas without alcohol licenses. But, the person has to be at least twenty-one years old to drink legally. Anyone who is found selling alcoholic drinks to minors or underage persons will be punished. Lawyers in Dubai can help you here with their vast knowledge.

Besides, changes will allow unmarried couples’ legal cohabitation. Before the announcement of the federal law amendments, it was considered illegal for unmarried couples or unrelated individuals to share the same roof in UAE. Consensual sex will also be no longer be punishable by law with the new changes. Consensual sex, however, that involves individuals under the age of fourteen or with mentally challenged individuals is illegal. Those who are convicted of having sexual intercourse with mentally challenged persons or with minors by force will be sanctioned with the death penalty. It is because this can be counted as rape and therefore, will be charged harshly as per lawyers in Dubai.

A prominent change with the penal code in the recent announcement was the scrapping of the article. This amendment allowed a reduced punishment for an honor crime. With the recent changes, an honor crime is not murder or assault.

Another considerable change that can benefit expatriates in the country is the amendment to the procedural law. This law states the arresting officers require interpreters to present if witnesses or suspects the disability of speaking Arabic. In addition to that, courts also need to make sure that the legal translators will be made available for witnesses and defendants who are unable to speak the Arabic language.