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Monday, October 18, 2021

UAE: Can I share a hotel room with my girlfriend?

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The government announced reforms in personal laws in 2020

Question: I am a tourist and am planning to come down to Dubai in October with my girlfriend. Will I be able to share a hotel room with her without facing any legal problems?

Answer: It is understood that you are planning to travel to Dubai in October 2021 along with your girlfriend as tourists.

Pursuant to your queries, as you intend to share a hotel room with your girlfriend during your stay in Dubai, the provisions of Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 on issuance of the Penal Code as amended by Federal Decree Law No. 15 of 2020 Amending Certain Provisions of the Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 Concerning the Penal Code (the ‘Penal Law of UAE’) are applicable.

It should be noted that in the year 2020, the UAE government announced reforms in personal laws, civil transactions law and the Penal Law of UAE. Cohabitation without marriage used to be a criminal offence, prior to amendment of Penal Law of UAE which came into force on September 28, 2020. However, after the amendment, it’s not illegal anymore.

Article 356 of the Penal Law of UAE, prior to its amendment, stated: “Without prejudice to two preceding articles, the crime of voluntary debasement shall be penalized by detention for a minimum term of one year, but if the said crime is perpetrated on a male or female below fourteen years of age or if committed by coercion, the penalty shall be term imprisonment.”

Based on the aforementioned provision of law, cohabitation was considered as an indecent assault.

It should be noted that in the year 2020, the UAE government announced reforms in personal laws, civil transactions law and the Penal Law of UAE.

Article 356 of the Penal Law of UAE, upon amendment in the year 2020, is read as: “Without prejudice to the previous two Articles, whoever commits sexual molestation of any person through coercion, threat or deceit, shall be subject to the punishment of temporary imprisonment.

“Voluntary sexual molestation shall be subject to the same punishment provided for in the previous paragraph, if the age of the victim, male or female, is less than fourteen years or if the victim is of no free will due to young age, lunacy, or insanity. Where the culprit is an ascendant, custodian, in charge of the victim or a servant of the victim or of the previously mentioned persons, the punishment shall be life or temporary imprisonment.”

Based on the aforementioned amendments of year 2000 in the law, the provision of ‘indecent assault’ has since been removed. Following this, unmarried couples may now live in the same accommodation and cohabit without marriage in the UAE.

Therefore, you may travel with your girlfriend to Dubai and stay with her in the same hotel room without facing any legal issues pertaining to cohabitation.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: news@khaleejtimes.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WC Times staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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