KUWAIT (Reuters) – UAE residents can now marry in public and take photos, and the government is looking at expanding that to include the men as well.
The new law, announced on Wednesday, comes in response to a government-led campaign to curb Islamic State-inspired violence in the Arab world’s top oil exporter.
It came after a wave of suicide bombings and shootings in the capital, Abu Dhabi, in which four people were killed.
The bill allows couples to marry in a private ceremony with a doctor, as well as in public without a witness, and requires that the couple sign a consent document for a divorce.
There are no restrictions on the number of spouses, though the number can only exceed 10 people.
The number of couples is limited to five and couples cannot have more than two children.
The law also does not allow people to marry outside of marriage.
“This is a positive step towards the right to be a married citizen in the country,” said Abu Dhabi Governor Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Thani, who signed the bill.
“As I said in the opening ceremony, the UAE is a country where love is the backbone of society.
I will continue to lead the fight against extremism and terrorism wherever we are,” he said.
The law does not explicitly ban polygamy but critics said it is likely to be enforced.
Marriages can be annulled at the whim of the court, which has the power to issue a final decree.
The Supreme Court in March ruled that women could not be forced to marry their husbands if they are already married.
However, a court earlier this month said it was unlikely that the same ruling would apply to divorced couples.
The ruling came after an appeals court overturned a lower court ruling that ruled that the law allowed divorced couples to remarry.
The U.S.-based Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombings in the heart of the Arab nation.
In December, an extremist group linked to Islamic State claimed responsibility and pledged to carry out attacks against Emirati and foreign tourists in retaliation for the law.
The UAE has a relatively small Muslim population, though most of its citizens are Sunni Muslims.