In the UAE, the legal system relies on Sharia Laws and it is important for those moving into the country to know about the laws. The people moving into the country will have many queries related to the ‘legal system’ and its applicability. Sharia laws are strict and should be followed in the UAE. This article will answer questions such as, is Sharia law applicable to expats? Should non Muslims follow Sharia law? What are the actions that will make them fall into trouble because of ignorance or lack of knowledge? Should one understand the culture of the UAE before visiting the UAE?
Answering all the questions, here we throw some light on the Sharia laws in the UAE. Are you planning to move into the UAE or have you already lived in the country? Then you have to know about Sharia Law and the legal system in the UAE.
In the UAE, Sharia law plays an important role and the government has made many efforts for a smooth understanding of the country’s regulation. The residents have to come across Islamic sharia law. The UAE constitution states that Islamic Sharia is the prime basis of its legislation.
Is Sharia law applicable to Expats?
The answer to this question is based on the interpretation. It also depends on the jurisdiction. Sharia law is applicable to expats and non-uslims. Sharia law is an important source of reference and ‘guidance for the UAE legislations’ and there are other sources as well. The Sharia laws and government rules are most of the time related to each other.
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Sharia Law and Family Law
The Sharia law in UAE and its intersection in general rules and regulations are visible in the UAE family law. As per the UAE constitution, Sharia is the first legal authentication. The personal law provides its coverage on marriage laws and divorce. It states that Sharia law will not ‘apply to non-muslim UAE nationals’. This law will apply to ‘non- UAE nationals’ who do not select their law. There is a clear difference which will allow ‘non muslims’ and ‘non-UAE’ to choose out.
There are five different Sharia-based personal law articles available in the legal system which are applicable for marriage, divorce, guardianship, child maintenance & custody, succession and future maintenance. During certain situations, there are some exceptions that do not apply. These situations include as follows.
When a person has more than two passports which are given by the administration.
- If the foreign law is vague in certain situations
- If the foreign law gets conflict with the Sharia law
- If the foreign law does not cover certain situations during a period of time
The decision making remains with the judge related to the foreign laws and prior to the interpretation and implementation of foreign law, it should be available in the Arabic language.
There are some exceptions and special regulations in the UAE which will protect the non-muslims in the Emirates.
National Crime Code & Sharia Law
Payments of money to any victim’s family either death or for injury is an example of Sharia law. There is a certain distinction for the criminal code to some point. As per Sharia Law, there are punishable offences such as crimes, thefts, murders which are categorised as ‘Al Hudud’. Within the UAE there are some Emirates that have suspended ‘Al Hudud provisions’. Changes in the UAE personal law and family law are made which have reduced the restrictions available in the Sharia Law.
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Sharia Laws and Business Sector
For business, there are many legal provisions applicable that rely on Sharia law. Some business laws are aimed to eradicate the exploitation of business, promote good growth and prohibit unjustifiable enrichment, they ban transactions that lead to customer exploitation. The UAE law will apply in these situations. The UAE labour laws have a high influence of Sharia laws and it has been implemented according to the legal provisions.
The prohibition of speculation & uncertainty, interests or Riba, profit & sharing is being promoted by the UAE government to promote Islamic economics. A legal body is also set up by the authorities which are called the ‘Higher Sharia Board’ specially for Banking & Finance. This legal body will work on providing the rules and regulations, guidelines for financial activities and the banking system. It provides a window for issuance of Fatwa & ‘Islamic governance’ in the Central Bank.
Sharia Law and Inheritance Law
According to the UAE, the Sharia Law provides laws of inheritance where if a husband dies the wife will get one-eight percent share of husband’s wealth/properties. If there are no children to the couple then the wife may get the quarter share in the property.
If the woman dies, here the husband is subject to get a quarter of the share. If the couple has no children then half of the share will be given to the husband. Suppose if it is an ancestral property and inherited from grandparents then the female grandchildren will inherit 50% of the estate than ‘male grand children’ and it is important to remember that exceptions are applicable.
Non-Emirates have an option where they can request the authorities for applying their domestic country laws in this situation.
Sharia laws are implemented very strictly in the UAE with certain exceptions and flexibility. Interpretation of Islamic laws and applications have been updated or adjusted. The UAE laws govern the multicultural diversified Dubai and other Emirates. The government welcomes the expats who are muslims and non-muslims for the growth and development of the country. Without any discrimination, the law protects, implements and safeguards the citizens of the UAE. It is important to understand that expats or non-expats should respect the culture, customs, traditions and understand the rules and follow them.