The final Law Update of 2022 is here, and it’s packed full of articles. The double edition features two focus areas, first is a spotlight on Energy and Resources and second we feature a collection of articles on Transport and Logistics. The developments occurring in these sectors in the MENA region are unprecedented and our lawyers cover vast themes for you.
The Energy and Resources focus features topics such as diversifying energy resources, solar PV, mining in the Middle East, renewable energy and green hydrogen. From a transport perspective, we draw attention to the Bahrain metro project, discuss the challenges and remedies associated with the repossession of an aircraft, and there is advice on what to consider should a party vary the terms of a shipping contract.
This edition navigates you through updates from across jurisdictions such as, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, and the UAE. Each article is timely and provides insights into legal issues and cases that are affecting these sectors across the region.Read the full edition
This becomes a problem if such views are expressed in a way that constitutes an insult or discrimination, or promotes hate and violence.
With the objective of preserving the harmony of UAE society, the UAE has enacted a new Federal Decree by Law No. 2 of 2015 that solidifies principles of tolerance and acceptance of others. The new Law, which came into force in August 2015, punishes hate crimes and discrimination with penalties including, but not limited to, imprisonment (from six months to fifteen years) and fines (of AED 50,000 to AED 2,000,000).
The new law introduces a number of new provisions, but also overlaps with existing legislations. Much of the law adds greater detail and higher penalties in relation to acts that have historically been viewed as acts of crime. As such, deeming them as crimes is not considered a new development. Notably, the far reaching impact of the law is to place emphasis on the UAE’s vision and efforts to preserve the existing harmony among its residents.
Below, we highlight some examples from the new law that overlap with existing laws, particularly Cyber and Criminal laws.
The existing Criminal Law No 3 of 1987 establishes penalties for anyone who offends the recognized divine religions. The new law also penalizes any form of offence to the divine religions, in addition to the holy books, Gods, prophets or apostles, churches and mosques. The new law sets out the definition of divine religions as Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The penalties in the new law are also stricter compared to those provided in the Criminal Law. The new law is arguably more concise, with a structure that further elaborates on such crimes, while including more definitions.
Similarly, the Cyber Law No. 5 of 2012 addresses insults to Islamic rituals and the recognized divine religions. The new law is arguably providing further examples of what is considered a crime with regards to offences to religion.
The Cyber Law addresses crimes committed on the internet, websites, social media and other technological tools. The scope of the new Law’s application is considered broader as it covers the aforementioned platforms, as well as any visual and audible methods, along with normal speech.
It is worth mentioning that the enactment of the Cyber Law, which came into force in August 2012, cancelled any provisions that contradicted its provisions. In other words, the Cyber Law would exhaustively apply to crimes regulated under it, even if they were construed as being covered by the Criminal law as well.
On the other hand, Article 2 of the new law provides that the penalties under the new law will apply to the crimes regulated under it, without prejudice to any higher penalties under any other law. It can therefore be expected that in instances where there are contradictory provisions, the higher penalties in the new law will apply.
Not only does the new law protect believers’ beliefs, it also safeguards the beliefs of nonbelievers. The new law provides penalties for anyone accusing other religious groups or individuals of being infidels or nonbelievers for personal interests or for unlawful purposes.
The penalty for such actions could reach the death penalty if such accusations encourage others to kill and a crime is consequently committed.
Undoubtedly, severe penalties as such show the UAE’s strict approach towards hateful and discriminatory acts committed against any person on its land, irrespective of his or her background and beliefs. The new law also establishes penalties for any discriminatory acts based on race, colour or ethnic origin.
The conditions for each of the above acts are assessed on a case by case basis and are associated with varying factors including, but not limited to, the criminal intent to commit such crimes.
The new law, which substantially overlaps with pre-existing laws, is welcomed as it is more concise and its structure provides further detail in terms of when certain activities are considered criminal and what punishments may apply.
The overlapping of provisions is not unusual in the UAE, especially in areas that need to accommodate the nature of a rapidly developing cosmopolitan society. In instances where there are two contradictory provisions, it is usually the case – with some exceptions – that the latest provision with the higher penalty will apply to a given crime. The higher penalties in the new law would thus apply to crimes that fall under it. However, any overlap with the new law is still to be tested before Courts.