New rules regulating divorce, inheritance and child custody will provide ‘flexible, advanced judicial mechanism’ for non-Muslims, local media said.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates has issued new rules on divorce, inheritance and child custody for non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi, the country’s state-run news agency reported.
The report on Sunday by the WAM news agency said Abu Dhabi would create a new court to deal with these cases, which would be held in Arabic and English to be better understood by the emirate’s large foreign working population.
Changes in child custody will enable parents to share joint custody of their children, WAM reported. The law – which consists of 20 articles – also introduces the idea of civil marriage, allows wills to grant inheritance to whoever a person chooses and deals with paternity issues.
It is set up to provide “a flexible and advanced judicial mechanism for determining personal status disputes for non-Muslims,” the Abu Dhabi judicial department said, according to The National newspaper.
Abu Dhabi is one of seven sheikhs that make up the UAE and the new law only affects this sheikh. While the oil-rich emirate is the capital of the country, Abu Dhabi’s population is dwarfed by that of neighboring Dubai.
The new law comes after authorities said last year they would review the country’s Islamic personal laws, allow unmarried couples to live together, relax alcohol restrictions and criminalize so-called “honor killings” – a widely criticized tribal practice in which a male family member can evade prosecution. for the assault of a woman who is considered a disgrace to a family.
The government at the time said the legal reforms were part of efforts to improve legislation and the investment climate in the country, as well as to consolidate “tolerance principles”.
Abu Dhabi also ended its alcohol licensing system in September 2020.
Previously, individuals needed a liquor license to buy, transport, or have alcohol in their homes. The rule will apparently allow Muslims who are banned from obtaining licenses to drink alcoholic beverages freely.
The UAE as a whole announced another plan in September this year to stimulate its economy and liberalize strict residence rules for foreigners.
In January, the UAE announced it was opening up a path to citizenship for select foreign nationals, who make up nearly 80 percent of the population.
The broadening of personal liberties reflects the changing profile of a country that has tried to see itself as a skyscraper-laden destination for Western tourists, fortune seekers and businesses.
The changes also reflect the efforts of the emirates’ rulers to keep pace with a rapidly changing society at home.
However, traditional Islamic values remain strong in the federation. The approximately one million Emirates in the UAE, a hereditary controlled country that has long been criticized for its suppression of discord, are now joining the government line.
Political parties and unions remain illegal.