Each year, the UAE makes significant changes to its laws to make it easier for residents to enjoy life in Dubai. From pregnancies outside of marriage, to relaxed sentences for drug offences, here are seven new rules introduced in 2021 you should know about.
On November 28, 2021, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, approved amendments to more than 40 laws in the UAE, the largest legislative reform in its history, effective January 2, 2022. This included a new law which eases restrictions on extra-marital relationships, subsequently allowing unmarried couples to conceive a child without the need to wed, providing that the child is acknowledged and cared for. Additionally, both parents must provide identification papers and travel documents in accordance with the laws of their home country. Failing this, a criminal case would introduce a prison term of two years for both parents.
In the same legislative update, we saw a focus on cyber-bullying, spreading fake news and combatting online harassment. The UAE developed a new law to ‘address concerns raised by online technologies and their applications and abuse’. This includes false advertising or promotions, unlicensed trading in crypto-currencies and medical products and supplements. The law gives power to the courts to be able to confiscate devices, software, content or other items used in the pursuit of a crime, and delete such information.
A huge update announced in the UAE was the shift of the working week from Sunday to Thursday, to Monday to Friday. This came into effect on Monday January 3, 2022 and is only mandatory for government workers, however most private sector companies have followed suit. Additional labour laws introduced include flexible working hours for the private sector. Federal Decree-Law No 33 of 2021, which was announced on Monday November 15, gives people in the private sector ‘the chance to opt for temporary and flexible work, freelance jobs, condensed working hours and shared jobs’. In effect, if an employee works 40 hours a week as per their contract, they can now perform all 40 hours in three days, if they wish.
Current restrictions dictate that anyone arriving into the UAE must take a Covid-19 PCR test and produce a negative result. The time length of which it must be taken various from country to country, but is usually somewhere between 48 and 72 hours. Recently, it was announced that unvaccinated citizens will not be allowed to travel overseas, as of January 10, 2022. Vaccinated Emiratis will need to have had their booster shot if they wish to travel after this date.
Rules and restrictions surrounding the pandemic changed a lot throughout the year. However as per December 21, 2021 these are the latest rules to abide by:
Social distancing measures were reduced from two metres to one
Restaurants can have up to 10 guests on one table, while cafes can have up to six
Dancing is still not allowed
To enter a government facility (from January 3) you will need a green pass on your Al Hosn app
Hotels can operate at full capacity while entertainment venues can run at 70 per cent
Weddings of up to 100 people can be held if all guests and staff are vaccinated
Home gatherings are capped at 30 people
Face masks are still required in all public places
As of December 29, 2021, guests are not permitted to consume food or drinks from a venue’s bar. They must be sat at a table.
On November 28, 2021, The UAE relaxed some its its drug laws to reduce sentences for first-time offenders. The new law offers people convicted of drug use and possession an opportunity to visit a secure detention with treatment and education programmes, rather than jail time. Deportation for expats convicted of drug crimes is no longer mandatory, and instead down to the discretion of the judge. Minimum prison time has also been reduced for first-time offenders from two years down to three months, as well as a fine between Dhs20,000 and Dhs100,000.
Dubai Courts announced on December 26, 2021 that the law pertaining to bounced cheques in the UAE was changing. Most cases of bounced cheques have now been decriminalised, excluding those related to cases of fraud. In order to achieve a faster, more accurate resolution for complainants, the cases can now be settled outside of court.