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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

Will Changes In Harsh Laws Recharge United Arab Emirates As A Business And Tourist Destination?

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Emirates Airbus A380 shown landing at London Heathrow International Airport LHR / EGLL in England, NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES.

Change is in the air, and not just from the US Presidential election. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced November 8 what are billed as major changes to the country’s Islamic legal code. Previous “crimes” that have ensnared many foreign tourists and residents in the UAE include drinking wine on a plane, calling another woman a “horse” and wearing a Qatari soccer jersey.

The new changes in the code include allowing unmarried couples to live together, changes in divorce and inheritance and liberalization of alcohol laws. Attempted suicide, forbidden in Islamic law, would also be decriminalized, while the new codes will criminalize “honor killings” that had previously been accepted.

Will the changes be enough to recharge the UAE as an international tourist and business destination?

“It’s encouraging to see Dubai making steps toward positive change,” says Radha Stirling, founder of UAE legal watchdog Detained in Dubai. On the other hand, “In no way are they comprehensive protections for visitors and expats. The UAE has been scrutinized for serious human rights violations, wrongful arrests, arbitrary detentions, the outright theft of foreign investment, money laundering, and torture.”

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