ABU DHABI: The UAE is reforming its legal system to keep a competitive edge as conservative Gulf neighbour Saudi Arabia opens itself up to foreign investment and talent, announcing major ‘historical’ changes such as decriminalising issues related to pre marital sex along with introducing longer-term visas.
In this regard, state news agency WAM reported the government is changing 40 laws this year. It did not make clear, however, which of the changes — which concern commercial companies, online security, trade, copyright, residency, narcotics and social issues — were new and which had been previously reported.
Other recent changes by the UAE include introducing longer-term visas as a way to attract and retain talent and encourage more businesses to set up shop.
The Emirates said the new criminal code would come into force in January as part of what it called the most sweeping legal reform in the Gulf state’s history.
The statement adds clarity that had been previously lacking to the status of pre-marital sexual relations and children born from them — stating that parents need not be married.
“Any couple conceiving a child out of wedlock will be required to marry or singly or jointly acknowledge the child and provide identification papers and travel documents in accordance with the laws of the country of which either is a national,” the statement said.
Major changes so far included decriminalising premarital sexual relations and alcohol consumption, and cancelling provisions for leniency when dealing with so-called “honour killings” in November 2020.