The headlines may have been about morality, but the reason the United Arab Emirates has decriminalised alcohol and scrapped a ban on unmarried couples living together might be more to do with economics.
At the weekend, the oil-rich Arab nation announced a major overhaul of its Islamic personal laws relating to the protection of women, cohabitation, alcohol, suicide, divorce and wills.
While authorities in the UAE had long turned a blind eye to the behaviour of many expats – who account for almost 90 per cent of the population – the reforms signal a commitment by the country to market itself as a beacon of moderate Islam in the Middle East as it seeks out foreign investment in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
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