9 new rules introduced in Dubai in 2020 you should know about

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There were some big changes introduced last year…

Last year saw some major changes to laws here in Dubai, with many positive updates designed to make life easier in the UAE. From unmarried couples being allowed to live together to changes to alcohol regulations, here are nine new rules that were introduced in Dubai in 2020.

9 new rules introduced in Dubai in 2020 you should know about

Marriage laws

On November 7, 2021, the UAE Government announced major changes to some of its personal and family laws, in a bid to improve the living standards for the country’s multicultural residents. One of the biggest amendments was the news that unmarried couples can now live together. Men and women who are not married or related are now free to live together without any repercussions.

Divorce laws

For those UAE residents who are already married, the November changes also included updates to divorce rules in Dubai and the UAE. Now, married couples who wish to divorce may do so according to the laws of the country where they were married (rather than being subject to UAE law).

Buying, distributing and consuming alcohol

According to Article 1 of Federal Decree Law No. 15 of 2020, the penalty has been lifted for drinking, possessing, or trading in alcoholic beverages in homes and authorised places. This rule is at the discretion of each emirate, however, and an alcohol license is still required to purchase alcohol from liquor stores in Dubai.

Equal pay law

In August 2020, an ‘equality of wage’ provision was introduced to UAE law, designed to ensure men and women are paid the same salary for similar work. According to the decree, “The female worker shall be granted a wage equal to that of the male worker should she be performing the same work, or another one of equal value.” This is an important step towards bridging the gender pay gap.

100 per cent foreign ownership of businesses in the UAE

On November 24,  HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE overhauled the need to have an Emirati shareholder to start a business in the UAE. Now, businesses can now be fully established by non-Emiratis of all nationalities. The move aims to make the UAE more attractive to overseas entrepreneurs, with the hope to increase foreign capital in the Arab world’s second largest economy.

Retirement visa

In September, the Dubai government launched a new global retirement visa, dubbed Retire in Dubai. The retirement visa is aimed at people aged 55 and above, who can support themselves financially. The visa is renewable every five years, and applicants must meet one of the following financial requirements:

  1. A monthly income of Dhs20,000
  2. Savings of Dhs1 million
  3. Owning a property in Dubai worth Dhs2 million

Changes to maternity and paternity leave

Here’s a positive new rule if you’re expecting in Dubai. Private sector workers were granted an additional five days of maternity and paternity leave, following the arrival of a baby. For women in the private sector, that means an increase in maternity leave from 45 days to 50 days. For fathers, you’re now entitled to five days paternity leave, effective for six months from the baby’s date of birth.

Harassment laws

In September, Federal Law No. 15 introduced stiffer penalties for the harassment of women, either verbally or physically. Penalties include up to two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to Dh100,000.

Act of good faith



For those good samaritans in Dubai, you’ll be glad to learn that there’s now a law in place for your protection. You can now help people, in good faith, without the risk of being found legally liable, should you inadvertently injure them in the process. This is particularly relevant for those offering assistance at accident sites.

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