The United Arab Emirates has announced that Drinking alcohol and living together without marriage is to be allowed and so-called ‘honor killings’ criminalized in a major overhaul of the country’s Islamic personal laws.
Now men and women who are not married or related will be free to live together without any repercussions. Though instances of prosecutions are rare, the law has relaxed to allow flatmates and couples to share a home legally.
Drinking alcohol will also no longer be an offense. Residents will no longer need an alcohol license to consume alcohol in a private or authorized space. Individuals must still be over the age of 21 to purchase or consume alcohol.
The oil-rich country has raised penalties for rape and sexual harassment. The new laws are aimed at the country’s multicultural residents as it seeks to carve a new identity for itself. There will no longer be separate sentencing guidelines for “honor” killings. According to reports, “honor” killings will now be punishable like any other crime in which jail terms was between three and 15 years.
The move follows a historic US-brokered deal to normalize relations between the UAE and Israel, which is expected to bring an influx of Israeli tourists and investment. It also comes as skyscraper-studded Dubai gets ready to host the World Expo.
The high-stakes event, expected to bring a flurry of commercial activity and some 25 million visitors to the country, was set for October but pushed back a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has included changes to the sentencing guidelines for other offences related to women.
Reports say there will be harsher penalties in harassment cases, while the rape of a minor and of “someone with a limited mental capacity” will attract the death penalty.
The new rules include several other changes in inheritance and the court system.