DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – United Arab Emirates on Saturday announced a major overhaul to the country’s Islamic private law, allowing couples unmarried living together, loosening alcohol restrictions and criminalizing so-called “honor killing”.
The expansion of personal freedoms reflects the shifting profile of a country that has sought to see itself as a Westernized destination for tourists, property seekers and real estate businesses. The country’s compliance with Islamic law has previously sparked lawsuits against foreigners and outrage in their home country.
The reforms aim to enhance the country̵7;s economic and social status and “reinforce the principles of tolerance of the UAE”, state news agency WAM said, the company only provided minimal details in Weekend surprise announcement. The government decrees behind the changes were heavily outlined in the state-affiliated newspaper The National, which did not cite its source.
The move follows a historic US-mediated deal aimed at normalizing relations between the UAE and Israel, which is expected to attract large numbers of Israeli tourists and investments. It also takes place as Dubai has many skyscrapers preparing to host the World Expo. The high-value event, expected to bring a wide range of commercial activity and about 25 million visitors to the country, was held in October but was delayed a year by the coronavirus pandemic.
The changes, which The National said will come into effect immediately, also reflect Emirates’ efforts to keep pace with a rapidly changing society at home.
Emirati filmmaker Abdallah Al Kaabi said: “I couldn’t be happier for these progressive and proactive new laws, whose artwork deals with taboo themes like same-sex love and homosexuality. gender format.
“2020 is a difficult and transformative year for the UAE,” he added.
The changes include removal of penalties for drinking, selling and possessing alcohol for people 21 years of age and older. Although alcohol and beer are widely sold in bars and clubs in luxury UAE coastal cities, individuals need a government-issued permit to buy, transport or have alcohol in their homes. surname. The new rule will allow Muslims banned from obtaining a free license to drink alcoholic beverages.
Another amendment allows the “cohabitation of unmarried couples”, which has long been a crime in the UAE. Authorities, especially in a freer financial hub like Dubai, often look the other way when it comes to foreigners, but the threat of sanctions persists. Attempts to commit suicide, banned in Islamic law, will also be canceled, The National reported.
In a move to better “protect women’s rights”, the government said it would remove laws that protect “honorable crimes”, a widely criticized tribal custom in which male relatives Gender may avoid prosecution because assaulting a woman is considered a family offense. Penalties for crimes aimed at eliminating the “shame” of women, for blasphemy or failure to comply with strict religious and cultural norms, are now the same as any other form of assault. .
In a country where foreigners outnumber citizens by nearly nine, the amendments will allow foreigners to avoid Shariah Islamic courts on issues such as marriage, divorce and inheritance.
The notice states that there was no other behavior deemed to be offensive to local customs that had sent foreigners to prison in the past, such as homosexual behavior, cross-dressing and showing affection. public.
Traditional Muslim values remained strong within the confederacy of the seven desert kingdoms. Even so, Annelle Sheline, a Middle East researcher at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statue Research, wrote on Twitter that drastic changes “can happen without too much human objections. population, especially in the main cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. , is too small. “
About 1 million Emiratis in the UAE, a reputably ruled country has long been criticized for its repression of dissidents, closely aligned with government lines. Political parties and labor unions are still illegal.