Cohabitation and alcohol consumption in the UAE: What the law has to say - GulfToday

Cohabitation and alcohol consumption in the UAE: What the law has to say


A couple wearing facemasks watch the sunset. File AFP

Syed Shayaan Bakht and Faisal Siddiqui, Staff Reporters

In a significant move, the UAE has announced a widespread revamp of personal and criminal laws in the first week of November, making way for a diverse society and equal representation of all members by the laws. The monumental law decriminalizes cohabitation and the consumption of alcohol. The law states that a person can buy, consume, and sell alcohol in authorised areas even without a licence.

But a person below the age of 21 will face criminal charges for consuming and possessing alcohol.

But question arises that what happens when someone in the name of law crosses the limit.

Couple A couple enjoy a sunset in Dubai. File AFP

Gulf Today has been receiving queries and clarification on the front.  

Readers have asked if they can move in with their partner in an apartment without facing any legal hurdles. 


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According to the new laws, unmarried couple can live together and it will not be considered as a crime anymore.  

Previously it was a criminal act under the Article 356 of the Federal Law No. (3) of 1987.

Until now, cohabitation was illegal in the UAE.

The laws came into effect on Nov.7.

The law aims to improve living standards and open the market to investors and people living in the UAE.

Dancing-Bar People move around a bar in a nightclub.

The amendments cover divorce and separation, alcohol consumption, suicide, protection for women, and raise the penalties for rape and sexual harassment.

The amendments would make way for disputed cases of non-Emiratis to be dealt with according to the laws of their native land.

The reformed laws would allow non-Emiratis to have a better representation.    

A significant amendment was the change in personal law. A couple living in the UAE but who were married in their country, have the right to apply the laws of their native country if they seek divorce.

The UAE has also scrapped reduced sentences for so-called "honour" killings. The act would be considered a crime, and treated similar to any other assault case in a court of law.

The UAE has over 200 nationalities living in the country. The expatriates make up some 90 per cent of the UAE population.

The UAE has developed the most diverse economy in the Gulf.

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