UPDATE: Expats allowed to choose law that governs them

Eudore R. Chand

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

ABU DHABI 8 November 2020: President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has approved Federal Law-Decrees to amend the Personal Status, Civil Transactions, Penal Code and Criminal Procedural laws.

Amendments to the Personal Status and the Civil Transactions laws allow non-citizens [expatriates] to choose the law that governs issues such as inheritance.

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on the UAE solid commitment to protecting women’s rights, amendments to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedural law have repealed the article giving reduced (lenient) sentence in what is called ‘honour crimes’, said official news agency Wam.

The amendments also allow the UAE Attorney General, in coordination with prosecutors in local authorities, to identify cases involving misdemeanours and infractions, where Penal Order can be applied, a step that aims at reducing the burden on the judiciary, especially in cases of minor cases.

The Federal Law-Decrees mean to further enhance the UAE legislative environment, entrench the principles of tolerance in the society and strengthen the country’s position as a preferred hub that attracts people to reside and work.

Lewis Allsopp of Allsopp & Allsopp said: “The UAE has always been forthcoming in offering opportunities for overseas expatriates but the new legislation brought in by the government on personal and family law further solidifies the country as a welcoming environment for foreigners.”

He said the progressive country is constantly taking steps to be inclusive of all cultures to give expatriates the confidence to build a family here, relax and call it home. The UAE is advancing by the day and cementing itself as a hub of opportunity and a safe place to live. “These new laws will spur expats to consider buying their family home in Dubai and look at the country with longevity with the retirement visa as an option when the time comes – there is no longer a time limit on life in Dubai.

“The new legislation, teamed with the virtual visa for overseas workers will encourage more expats to the country and will be a welcomed boost to the Dubai property market. Working professionals will now take the virtual visa as a chance to trial Dubai without the risk of leaving a secure job in their home country,” he added.

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