From women protection to investment, from cinema to trade: UAE's legal reform reflects its future aspirations

UAE said that the reform, which is believed to be the largest legal reform in the country's history, would legislate over 40 new laws and amendments by January 2022. 

This massive reform aims to strengthen economic, investment and commercial opportunities in the countries.

Wide-ranging reform of the legal system in UAE

In an attempt to maximise social stability, security and ensure the rights of both individuals and institutions, the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan last month approved a wide-ranging reform of the country's legal system. 

UAE said that the reform, which is believed to be the largest legal reform in the country's history, would legislate over 40 new laws and amendments by January. 

This massive reform aims to strengthen economic, investment and commercial opportunities in the countries. 

Here are the major highlights provided by state news agency WAM that showcase the country's future aspirations. 

"The draft of new laws and legislative amendments came during the "Year of the 50th" and are intended to keep pace with the developmental achievements of the UAE and reflect the country’s future aspirations. Over 40 laws are included in the changes, which together represent the largest legal reform in the young nation’s 50-year history," WAM stated. 

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Electronic transactions and trust services

The amendments in this are done to keep pace with technological development and enhance ongoing digital transformation in the world. As per WAM, the law gives digital signatures the same weight as a handwritten signature.
 
"The Law of Electronic Transactions and Trust Services facilitates a wide range of civil and commercial transactions, including marriage, personal status, notary and real estate services such as renting, buying, selling and amending contracts," WAM noted. 

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Online security

In the age of cybercrime and online scams, the law regarding such crimes and combatting online harassment, bullying and 'fake news' will become effective January 2 in 2022.

It is one of the first comprehensive legal frameworks in the region to address concerns raised by online technologies and their applications and abuse.

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Commercial companies

Intending to promote investment, the law allows investors and entrepreneurs to establish and fully own onshore companies in all sectors, excluding a small number of reserved "strategic activities", WAM said.

Meanwhile, the amendment in the law aims at boosting the country’s competitive advantage as a part of a wider UAE government agenda to economic diversification towards an innovation-led and knowledge-based economy. 

WAM further said that the new Commercial Companies Law aims to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) and reaffirms the UAE's standing as a leading business hub regionally and globally.

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Women protection

WAM stated that UAE has ratified a new and updated Federal Crime and Punishment Law and the new legislation, which offers enhanced protections for women. 

The law dictates life imprisonment for the crime of rape or non-consensual intercourse and if the victim is under the age of 18, disabled, the it can be extended to capital punishment. 

The new law also addresses the crime of indecent assault with imprisonment or a fine of no less than ten thousand dirhams regardless of the victim's gender. 

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Cinema censorship

UAE announced that it will no longer censor cinematic releases, introducing a 21 and above age rating for films it classifies for mature audiences.

The country's Media Regulatory Office said on Twitter that it had introduced a 21+ age category to its motion picture content rating system.  

"According to this classification, the international version of movies will be shown in cinemas, with an emphasis on the strict following of age classification standards for audience entry," it added. 

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Copyrights and neighbouring rights

WAM stated that the amendments of the federal law concerning copyrights and neighbouring rights maximise the contribution of creative industries in the UAE economy. 

Also protect authors of the works and the holders of the neighbouring rights, in case aggression against their rights occurs. "The amendments offer special benefits for people of determination to enhance their benefit and participation in this vital sector," WAM said. 

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Higher education

Law related to higher education aims to regulate the licensing of higher education institutions in the UAE.

It sets the legislative framework to approve curricula, ensure effective governance and management of higher education institutions.

Also puts focus on improving the quality and competitiveness of higher education in the country. 

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