Important updates relevant to residents…

Each year, the UAE makes significant changes to its laws to make it easier for residents to enjoy life in Dubai. From non-Sharia compliant marriages to mandatory unemployment insurance, here are 11 new rules introduced in the UAE in 2023 that you should know about:

Tourism tax slashed in Abu Dhabi

The Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi announced a change government in fees in the tourism sector, that came into effect from September 1, 2023. The government fee amendments include a reduction in tourism fee issued to guests from six per cent to four per cent. Guests will no longer have to pay the municipality fee of Dhs15 per room per night. Additionally, the municipality fee of six per cent, and the four per cent municipality fee which is applied to the hotel’s restaurants will also be removed. Officials confirmed that the municipality fee for four per cent of the value of the invoice issued to the customer will continue.

New procedures to update your Emirates ID

Need to make a change to your visa which will reflect in your Emirates ID? You can now update all the details online. This applies to a change in name, occupation or employer, an update in passport details and even a change in nationality. Any changes made to residency information will trigger a request for a new Emirates ID card replacement.

Residents will be able to make the changes via the official website here or via the smart application. All you need is your UAE Pass log-in details. You can also visit a customer happiness centre or an approved typing centre to get your new Emirates ID.

You can read about the procedure here.

Travel ban lifting

If you’ve found yourself grounded with a travel ban following the outcome of a criminal case in the Dubai courts – there’s a new streamlined, digital way to have the ban removed. The service, launched by Dubai Public Prosecution, will allow individuals to make a payment online, and then following court approval enjoy an automatic uplifting of their travel curtailment. There are three ways you can do this which you can read more about here.

The new service is part of the government’s ‘Services 360’ policy, approved by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council, which aims to push smart solutions for life admin, fast-tracking processes, and taking pressure off bricks and mortar service centres.

Involuntary loss of employment  (ILOE) scheme

The Involuntary Loss of Employment (ILOE) Scheme came into effect as of January 1, 2023 and is a form of social security that will provide workers with up to three months of compensation if they lose their jobs. The scheme applies to all workers in the private and public sector, and everyone needs to be enrolled by October 1, 2023 – a deadline that was extended to give employees more time to sign up. The compensation is calculated at up to 60 per cent of the employee’s salary.

According to the Cabinet Resolution No. 97 of 2022 , UAE employees who fail to subscribe to the insurance within the grace period will be required to pay a fine of Dhs400 imposed by the Ministry, and a fine of Dhs200 in case the insured fails to pay the prescribed insurance premiums for more than three months.

Do note, that since it’s already been a year since the new scheme came into place, you may have to renew your scheme. You can find out when your expiry date is on your ILOE – Certificate of Insurance which would have been emailed to you. Your expiry date is 12 months from the inception (start) date.

Find out how to enroll here: Everything you need to know about the UAE Unemployment Insurance Scheme

Removal of grace period for Dubai visit visas

Visitors will no longer be given a 10-day grace period after the expiry of their Dubai tourist visas, the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) confirmed toThe National in May. Previously, tourists would have 10 extra days from the date their visa expired to stay in the emirate before overstay fines were imposed. This means the grace period is no longer applicable and anyone who overstays their Dubai visit visa will be immediately fined Dhs50 per day.

UAE work permit extended from two years to three years

Work permits are a requirement for anyone undertaking employment in the UAE. But the current two-year work permit is set to be extended to three years, according to the Federal National Council (FNC). As announced in May 2023, The move is set to reduce the costs associated with getting work permits. All work permits are issued by the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), although a timeline for the rollout wasn’t given.

30 per cent tax removed from alcohol

The 30 per cent tax was removed from all alcohol purchases in 2023, effective from Sunday, January 1 2023. Liquor stores African & Eastern and MMI immediately dropped their prices for consumers buying from shops.

Alcohol licenses are also now free to obtain since Sunday, January 1, 2023.  Those looking to apply will just need their Emirates ID for residents, or passport for tourists.  The mandatory alcohol license for all non-Muslims was previously Dhs270 per year.

Huge updates to marriage laws

The new Federal Personal Status Law allows non-Muslim couples to marry in a non-Sharia legal process. Since February 2022, non-Muslim couples in Abu Dhabi have been able to tie the knot in the civil court, in a similar way to a registry office wedding in the UK or Europe. From February 1, 2023 this became a UAE-wide law.

As per the new decree, either spouse will now be able to ask the court to end the marriage, without proving a party is at fault, or justify the need to end the marriage. Divorces may be granted after one hearing, and it won’t be required to go through family guidance counselling, or meditation sessions that were previously required.

If a divorcing couple has children, joint and equal custody of the children will automatically be granted until the children are 18 years old. Where there are custody disputes, the court can take further action and involvement, with consideration always given to the child or children’s best interests. If witness testimony is required, a woman’s testimony to be equal to that of a man.

The new law allows non-Muslims to register wills at the same time as their marriage certificate, which will allow them to give their property to whoever they wish.

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Women and emergency abortion

As of October 2023, a rule was passed where women in the UAE no longer require their husband’s consent to undergo an emergency abortion. The new legislation allows women to terminate their pregnancy after receiving a medical report that states that the mother’s or unborn child’s life is at risk. The new law also allows private licensed facilities in the UAE to conduct abortions. Previously, the law only allowed women to have an abortion with the spouse’s consent, if that baby would be born with life-threatening conditions. Read more here.

Unmarried couples can now undergo IVF treatment

Unmarried, non-Muslim couples without a marriage certificate can now have IVF treatment in the UAE providing they agree to register the child under both their names. The new law was passed in October 2023.

Muslim couples, on the other hand, still need to prove that they are married.

The new law has made some other significant updates. One of the changes is that it’s no longer illegal for couples to get help from another woman to carry their baby (use a surrogate).

Read more here.

New corporate tax law

Effective from the financial year starting on or after June 2023, businesses in the UAE will be subject to corporate tax, which will impose a standard rate of 9 per cent on taxable profits exceeding Dhs375,000. Profits up to this threshold will be taxed at a zero per cent rate to support small businesses and startups.