Question: I have been living in Dubai with my girlfriend for two years. We are both British citizens and were always worried that our being together was not legal in the UAE. We recently read local media reports claiming that coexistence has been decriminalized. Can my girlfriend and I continue to live together? Will the authorities continue to impose fines for cohabitation? Can partners living together own property in the UAE?
Until recently in the UAE, having an unmarried (sexual) relationship was a criminal offense and therefore punishable by law in accordance with Section 356 of Federal Law No. (3) of 1987 on the issue of the Criminal Code (the ‘UAE Criminal Law’). The article states: cohabitation without marriage is punishable by expulsion if the cohabiting couple is found guilty by the criminal court, in accordance with Article 121 of the UAE Criminal Law.
However, very recently, the UAE government announced reforms in personal laws, women’s safety, suicide, alcohol consumption. The changes include decriminalizing the cohabitation of unmarried couples. Therefore, from now on it may not be considered a crime and there may be no imprisonment or penalties for cohabitation. In addition, the right to own property in the UAE is recognized may, however, foreign nationals own property in designated areas in the emirate of Dubai. This is in accordance with Article 4 of Law No. (7) of 2006 relating to the registration of real estate properties in the emirate of Dubai, which states: “
The right to own real estate in the emirate will be limited to citizens of the UAE, citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council member states and wholly owned companies and public limited companies. Subject to the approval of the Sovereign, non-UAE citizens may, in certain areas determined by the Sovereign, obtain the following rights: Ownership of real estate without time limits and usufruct or lease of real estate for a period not exceeding 99 years old.
edited by IICUAE on source Khaleej Times