Criminalizing “honor killings,” empowering women, and legalizing alcohol, are part of the gulf country’s plans to enhance its global image.
The UAE announced the approval of amendments seeking to protect individualism and attract foreign investors. Under the new provisions, the UAE will allow unmarried couples to live together.
Bloomberg reported on Saturday that the plans are part of the country’s efforts to attract foreign experience and investment.
The Emirati news outlet the National said that the new amendments will end punishments against alcohol consumption, cohabitation, and suicicde attempts.
“Alcohol consumption is no longer criminalised. Anyone who drinks, is in possession of alcohol or sells alcoholic beverages in authorised areas without an alcohol licence will no longer face penalties,” the Emirati newspaper explained.
However, the legal age for alcohol consumption is 21.
The new amendment also includes ending the special treatment of individuals charged for “honor killings.” This means that Emirati courts will treat “honor crimes” like other crimes and will no longer hand defendants reduced sentences.
Honor killings is a term common in the Middle East and other regions across the world. Typically, families argue for lighter sentences for the killing of a member of a family, mainly women, for actions perceived as damage to their reputation or honor.
“Based on the UAE solid commitment to protecting women’s rights, amendments to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedural law have repealed the article giving reduced (lenient) sentence in what is called ‘honour crimes,’” the UAE news agency WAM reported earlier today.
The new amendments also include changes to the Personal Status and the Civil Transactions laws, allowing non-Emirati citizens to choose the law of their country of origin to solve their issues, including inheritance.
WAM said that president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan approved the Federal Law-decrees to amend the provisions today as part of the country’s plans to entrench “principles of tolerance” and to attract foreigners to reside and work in the Gulf country.
According to the National, the new amendments also seek to preserve women’s rights.
Under the new law, the UAE would execute perpetrators charged for rape of minors or people with special needs. “There will be tougher punishments for men who subject women to harassment of any kind, which is thought to cover street harassment or stalking,” the newspaper explained.