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Allowed sex and alcohol. Revolution in the UAE

UAE President Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan made amendments to the country's criminal and criminal procedure codes, as well as to the law on personal status.

A real cultural revolution has taken place in the United Arab Emirates. The state decided to abandon some of the harshest laws that existed on the basis of Islamic traditions.

UAE President Khalifa Ibn Zayed Al Nahyan approves amendments to laws on personal status, civil transactions, as well as to the criminal and criminal procedure codes


UAE abolished fines for drinking alcohol. Now residents of the country and visitors who are over 21 years old can drink, store or sell alcoholic beverages without a license in their homes and in permitted public places without facing criminal penalties. As the Associated Press notes, beer and other spirits are widely available in bars and clubs, but until recently people had to obtain a government license to buy alcohol, bring it home and drink it.


It used to be a crime to live together in the UAE before marriage. For example, in 2013, a Norwegian citizen reported the rape to Dubai law enforcement officers but received a 16-month prison sentence for extramarital sex, alcohol consumption, and perjury.

Now, consensual sexual relations will not be punished by law, except in a number of cases:

— if any of the members of the couple is less than 14 years old;

— if “mutual consent” actually means deceiving the victim because of her young age or mental retardation;

— if one of the participants in such an act is a close relative, guardian, or guardian of the victim.

If the rape of a minor or a mentally unhealthy victim is committed, such use of force is punishable by death.

Honor killings

Honor crimes including “honor killings” will be punished on an equal basis with others. Until now, the UAE had a rule that allowed a man to mitigate punishment if he committed a crime against his relative, who allegedly dishonored the family — even if it was murder. Now, such crimes of honor are criminalized — that is, the punishment for them will be the same as for any other types of attacks, assassination, or murder.

In addition, the UAE authorities canceled the punishment for attempted suicide, and also allowed foreigners to be guided by the laws of their countries, and not Sharia law, in matters such as divorce and inheritance. At the same time, the provisions of the laws remained unchanged in the country, according to which representatives of LGBT people, as well as people who publicly show feelings, for example, kissing, will face punishment.

Why all this

The expansion of personal freedoms reflects the UAE's desire to establish itself as a center of attraction for Western tourists and large foreign businesses — even though the country's legal system is based on a rigid interpretation of Islamic laws.

In addition, the UAE is preparing to host the World Expo. It was supposed to take place in October 2020, but the event was postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The exhibition is expected to attract about 25 million visitors and an additional wave of commercial activity in the UAE.

The laws were amended three months after the UAE and Israel, through the mediation of US President Donald Trump, agreed in August to normalize relations.

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