© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The UAE flag flies over a boat in Dubai Marina, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, May 22, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/FILE PHOTO/FILE PHOTO
DUBAI (Reuters) – Non-Muslims will be allowed to marry, divorce and have joint custody of children under Abu Dhabi’s civil law under a new decree issued by the ruler of Abu Dhabi on Sunday, the official Emirates News Agency (WAM) said.
It is the latest move in the UAE – where personal status laws on marriage and divorce have been based on Islamic principles, as in other Gulf states – to maintain its competitiveness as a regional trading hub.
And the decree issued by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, who is also the president of the UAE’s federation of seven emirates, stated that the law includes civil marriage, divorce, alimony, joint custody of children, and proof of paternity and inheritance.
WAM said the conference aims to “strengthen the emirate’s position and global competitiveness as one of the most attractive destinations for talent and skills.”
The report described the civil law regulating non-Muslim family affairs as the first of its kind in the world “in line with international best practices.”
A new court to deal with non-Muslim family matters will be established in Abu Dhabi and will operate in both English and Arabic.
Last year, the UAE introduced a number of legal changes at the federal level, including the decriminalization of premarital sexual relations and alcohol consumption, and the abolition of leniency provisions when dealing with so-called “honour crimes”.
These reforms, along with measures such as introducing long-term visas, are seen as a way for the Gulf state to make itself more attractive for foreign investment, tourism and long-term accommodation.
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