The Evolution of the Legal System in the United Arab Emirates 

From MENA to the WORLD

The legal system of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a long and rich history that can be traced back to the pre-Islamic period. During this time, the region was governed by a system of tribal laws and customs that were developed and enforced by local leaders. 

In the early 20th century, the UAE was a British protectorate, and the legal system was largely based on English common law. In 1971, the UAE gained independence from Britain and established its own legal system based on a combination of Islamic law, tribal customs, and foreign legal systems, including those of Egypt and India. 

The first formal legal system in the UAE was established in the 1970s under the leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE. The first legal code, known as the Federal Law No. 1 of 1972, established the legal framework for the country’s legal system and outlined the powers and responsibilities of the federal government. 

The first court in the UAE was established in Abu Dhabi in 1971, and the first judge was Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi. Over the years, the UAE’s legal system has evolved and expanded, and today it is made up of a network of federal and local courts that handle a wide range of civil, criminal, and commercial cases. 2008 marked the swearing in of the first female judge, Khulood al Dhaheri. 

In addition to its courts, the UAE also has a number of specialized legal bodies, such as the Federal Supreme Court, the Federal Court of Cassation, and the Federal Public Prosecution, which are responsible for handling specific types of cases and enforcing the country’s laws. 

The Constitution of UAE which came into effect on 2 December 1971 with each Emirate having the option to establish its own judiciary system or merge with the federal court system. 

The UAE’s legal system is based on a combination of Islamic law, tribal customs, and foreign legal systems, and it is designed to ensure fairness and justice for all members of society. Despite its roots in traditional legal systems, the UAE’s legal system has embraced modern legal principles and practices, and it continues to evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of the country. 

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