Khaleej Times, Sunday, Aug 28, 2022 | Safar 1, 1444
Can an unmarried couple live together in a 'family' building?
Question: I plan to move in with my girlfriend to an apartment in Dubai. The
building is what you would call a 'family' one, where bachelors are not allowed.
Will we be allowed to live in such a building? More importantly, are real estate
companies allowed to classify buildings in this manner?
Response: Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you and your
girlfriend are unmarried and not in marital relationships with any other
individuals. Therefore, the provisions of the Federal Decree Law No. 31 of 2021
on the Issuance of the Crimes and Penalties Law (the 'UAE Penal Law'), and
relevant local orders of the Dubai government may be applicable.
It is pertinent to note that cohabitation of unmarried couples is not a crime
anymore in the UAE if there are no objections by their legal guardians. The
offence of indecent assault in the UAE has been reintroduced with some
modifications. Following this, a criminal action in respect of 'indecent
assault' can be initiated only upon the submission of a complaint by the husband
or legal guardian of the female involved in the relationship. Also, the offence,
proceedings and penalties shall lapse if, at any time, the complainant (i.e.,
husband/guardian) retracts the complaint. This is in accordance with Article 409
of UAE Penal Law, which states: "Shall be punished with imprisonment for a
period for not less than 6 months, anyone who committed with consent indecent
assault with a female or sodomite with a male who has completed 18 years of age.
"A criminal case for the crime stipulated in the previous paragraph shall not be
filed except on the basis of a complaint from the husband or legal guardian.
"In all cases, the husband or legal guardian may waive the complaint, and
consequence of the same is lapse of the criminal case or the suspension of the
execution of the penalty, as the case may."
Therefore, if you are living with your girlfriend in the UAE, it may not be
considered a crime, and there may be no imprisonment or penalties for
Further, it is at the discretion of the real estate company to rent apartments
in a building to certain categories of individuals. In Dubai, the real estate
company may frame rules and regulations of the building. However, these must be
within the purview of the Real Estate Regulatory Agency of Dubai.
It would be prudent on your part to advise the real estate company of the
building where you intend to reside that you and your girlfriend are an
unmarried couple to avoid any unforeseen situations in the future.