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Middle East

The UAE takes steps towards modernization by decriminalizing alcohol and suicide

November 9, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

In this Oct. 7, 2016 file photo, people watch the sunset over the skyline, with Burj Khalifa at right, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates announced on Saturday a major overhaul of the country???s Islamic personal laws, allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, loosening alcohol restrictions and criminalizing so-called ???honor killings.??? (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

The United Arab Emirates has introduced a slew of reforms on personal status and penal laws as part of a years-long bid to modernize the Gulf state and promote a progressive brand of Islam.

(CNN)The United Arab Emirates has introduced a slew of reforms on personal status and penal laws as part of a years-long bid to modernize the Gulf state and promote a progressive brand of Islam.

Official news reporting about the series of decrees states that the country has "lifted the criminalization of parts of the penal code that do not harm others" -- a vaguely worded phrase that could signal the further repeal of more socially conservative rules.

The UAE has adopted an increasingly liberal approach to social freedoms in recent years, helping to attract expatriates to the country and retain those already living there.

To underscore that political reforms are nowhere on the horizon, the UAE decreed on Monday that any "disrespect" shown towards the country's flag, or any state's flag, carries a jail sentence of up to 25 years and a fine of 500,000 dirhams (around $137,000).

Over the last decade, the UAE's social mores have become visibly more lax than the traditionally more liberal Arab states in the Levant.

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