As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prepares to host the high-stakes World Expo, it has relaxed certain laws criminalising alcohol consumption and fornication.
This was announced on the state-run WAM news agency and detailed in state-linked newspaper, The National.
In the reforms, unmarried people can now leave together, alcohol restrictions have been loosened “honour killings” now criminalised.
In the UAE, residents require a liquor licence to purchase, transport or have alcohol in their homes.
In the new development, penalties have be scrapped for alcohol consumption, sales and possession for those above 21 years.
This means that Muslims who have been barred from obtaining licences to drink alcoholic beverages freely, can now do so.
According to Associated Press, the country has also permitted “cohabitation of unmarried couples”, often categorised as fornication, which had been a crime in the UAE.
The government also announced the eradication of laws protecting “honour crimes”, a custom in which a male relative may evade prosecution for assaulting a woman accused of dishonoring the family.
The punishment for a crime committed to eradicate a woman’s “shame” for promiscuity or disobeying religious and cultural strictures, will now be the same for any other kind of assault.
Due to the pandemic, the event was initially postponed.
It however, seeks to bring several commercial activities and some 25 million visitors to the country.
The development is also coming after a historic US-brokered deal to normalise relations between the UAE and Israel.