The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced changes to its Islamic personal laws, now allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, loosening alcohol restrictions and imposing harsher punishments for “honor killings.”
The Associated Press and Reuters reported on the changes Saturday, with the UAE state-run news agency WAM saying that the updates are intended to improve the country’s economic and social standing and “consolidate the UAE’s principles of tolerance.”
The UAE government outlined the changes in greater detail in state-linked newspaper The National, which noted that the altered laws would take effect immediately, according to the AP.
According to Reuters, thousands of women and girls die each year across the Middle East and South Asia in “honor killings,” resulting from family members perceiving a damage to a woman’s honor for actions such as eloping or mingling with men.
WAM also announced the cancellation of UAE legal clauses that had allowed judges to hand out relaxed sentences for “honor crimes.” Now, the actions will be addressed in courts as any other murder case would.
Reuters reported that UAE residents will now have the option to choose inheritance laws to be used in each case, rather than the UAE legislation based on sharia, or Islamic religious law.
The changes will also reportedly allow Muslims who have been barred from obtaining government-issued licenses to drink alcoholic beverages freely, while a new amendment will no longer make the “cohabitation of unmarried couples” a crime.
The National reported that attempted suicide, which is forbidden in Islamic law, would also be decriminalized.
The reported changes come nearly two months after the UAE and Israel signed the Abraham Accords, an agreement set up by the Trump administration for diplomatic relations between the two countries, as well as Bahrain.
As part of the agreement, Israel agreed to suspend plans to annex territory in the West Bank that was outlined in President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden claims a ‘mandate’ to govern, calls for end to ‘partisan warfare’ Mark Meadows tests positive for coronavirus Georgia Senate race between Perdue, Ossoff heads to runoff MORE’s “Prosperity to Peace” plan as a solution for the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.
The Trump administration has also notified Congress of plans to sell F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, as well as 18 armed aerial drones worth approximately $2.9 billion.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelBlocking the F-35 sale to the UAE will only help our foes and Israel’s White House approves nearly B drone deal with UAE: report Democrats debate fate of Trump probes if Biden wins MORE (D-N.Y.) warned in a statement last month announcing the F-35 fighter jet sale that it was “not in anyone’s interest,” adding that “this technology would significantly change the military balance in the Gulf and affect Israel’s military edge.”