According to a recent order signed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi will be entitled to marry, divorce, and have joint child custody under civil law, in an unprecedented move by the UAE. According to a state news agency, the UAE intends to improve its position worldwide to become one of the most attractive locations for talent and skills through these new family law reforms based on Islamic Sharia principles, similar to all gulf states.
It is a first-of-its-kind overhaul that adheres to international best practices. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed is also the president of the United Arab Emirates that comprises seven emirates. He claims that the law has around 20 articles covering civil weddings, divorce, alimony, joint child custody, paternity, and inheritance verification. A new court will be established in Abu Dhabi to handle conflicts of non-Muslim families to improve openness and allow for a better understanding of judicial operations. The court aims to function in both English and Arabic.
The UAE has announced a slew of additional law amendments in the last year, including decriminalization of premarital sexual encounters, alcohol use, counseling provisions for leniency when dealing with honor killings, and even measures like longer-term visas. All these reforms are a means for the Gulf states to attract international investment, tourism, and long-term residency.
The administration claimed at the time that the legal revisions were part of an effort to enhance the country's legislation and investment climate, as well as to consolidate "tolerance ideals."
Abu Dhabi removed its alcohol licensing system in September 2020. Previously, a liquor license was required to purchase, transport, or possess alcohol in one's home. The rule appears to allow Muslims to consume alcoholic beverages without restriction.
In September last year, the UAE unveiled another initiative to boost its economy and relax stringent residency rules for foreigners. The UAE stated that it would provide a road to citizenship for a select group of foreign nationals, who account for over 80% of the population.
The expansion of personal liberties reflects a shift in the country's image as a skyscraper-studded destination for Western tourists, fortune-seekers, and enterprises. The reforms also reflect the rulers' efforts to stay up with the emirates' fast-changing society at home.
Traditional Islamic principles, on the other hand, are still strong in the federation. The UAE's roughly one million Emiratis who live in a hereditarily ruled country having a long history of suppressing dissent are carefully following the government's lead. Labour unions and conventional parties are unauthorized in the UAE, which adheres to traditional Islamic principles.
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