Live-in relations, long term visas: 8 legal reforms UAE has adopted recently

The UAE also announced a host of new visa categories


Waheed Abbas

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File photo

Published: Fri 24 Dec 2021, 11:30 AM

The UAE has eased a number of rules, of late, that cover a wide spectrum of people in the country. It includes rules on consumption of alcohol, 21+ rating of movies in theatres and relationships of unmarried couples. The UAE also announced a host of new visa categories as part of its reforms to make the UAE more competitive economically. In addition, to enhance work-life balance among the residents, the federal government introduced a two-and-a-half-day weekend.


Below is the list of rules that have been eased, of late, by the UAE authorities.

  • 21+ age rating for movies: The UAE’s Media Regulatory Office announced a new classification of 21+ that would see international versions of movies being screened in cinemas without censorship, as was the case with some releases earlier.
  • Largest legal reforms in UAE’s history: Over 40 laws are included in the changes. The amendments cover investment, trade and industry, commercial company, regulation and protection of industrial property, copyright, trademarks, commercial register, electronic transactions, trust services, factoring, and residency. They also offer enhanced protections for women and domestic servants; strengthen public safety and security provisions; and ease restrictions on extra-marital relationships.
  • Live-in couples: The Federal Crime and Punishment Law was updated in November which decriminalised consensual relationships out of wedlock, provided that any child conceived as a result of the relationship is acknowledged and will be cared for.
  • Alcohol laws: Abu Dhabi had ended its licensing system for alcohol purchases for residents last year. Federal level legal reforms announced last month prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages in a public place or in unlicensed locations. It also prohibits the sale, provision or incitement or inducement to consume alcoholic beverages to any person below 21 years of age.
  • Drug laws: The UAE amended anti-narcotics laws as part of legislative reforms in the country. Some of the drug law’s major highlights include rehabilitation of first-time drug offenders, optional deportation of expats convicted in drug-related cases but tougher penalties on serial offenders. Other changes include reducing minimum sentences from 2 years to 3 months for first-time drug offenders and offering convicts rehabilitation at a detention facility.
  • New weekend: In December, the UAE announced a major decision, giving a two-and-a-half-day weekend to the public sector from next year. The weekend will begin from mid-day Friday until Sunday from January 2022.
  • Public, private work systems unified: Starting February 2, 2022, employees of federal entities and private companies will obtain the same leaves and end-of-service benefits and have the option to opt for flexible, part-time and temporary work models.
  • Long-term residency options: The UAE has announced several new visa reforms, too. Employees of multinational companies can now avail themselves of Dubai’s new five-year, multi-entry visa. In addition, many other categories for visas were also announced including Retirement Visa, Golden Visa, Green Visa, Freelancer Visa, Multi-entry Tourism Visa, Remote Work Visa and Temporary Work permit.

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