UAE announces major changes in the law

Followed by a decree by the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE announced amendments to some of the laws of the country.

Krystien Meyers
November 8, 2020 5:57 PM

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on Saturday amendments to its personal status, civil transaction and penal and criminal procedure laws.

The amendments come as part of the UAE’s efforts to develop its legislative and investment environment and to foster tolerance.

The new laws, which were approved by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, include:

  • Allowing non-citizens to choose the laws that would apply to them regarding inheritance in the personal status law
  • Decriminalizing acts in the penal code that do not cause harm to others
  • Allowing the federal public prosecutor the right to determine misdemeanours and irregularities that are subject to the penal code
  • Abolishing the article that provides mitigating excuses for committers of so-called ‘honour crimes’ and subjecting them to provisions that apply to murder crimes in the penal code

In a country where expatriates outnumber citizens nearly nine to one, the amendments will permit foreigners to avoid Islamic Shariah courts on issues like marriage, divorce and inheritance. The amendments to the Personal Status and the Civil Transactions laws will also allow non-citizens to choose the law relating to issues such as inheritance.

The laws are effective immediately and reflect the progressive measures to improve living standards for people from around the world living in the UAE.

With the UAE home to more than 190 nationalities, amendments to existing laws and the introduction of the new laws seek to allow non-Emirati residents to have their personal affairs dealt with according to the law of their home country and ensuring the UAE is accommodating to their needs.

The reforms come as the UAE gets ready to host the high-stakes World Expo. The event is planned to bring a flurry of commercial activity and some 25 million visitors to the country after it was pushed back a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.