UAE Laws and Islamic Finance

Laws of the UAE and Islamic Finance

Archive for February, 2010

Exploring Sharjah Free Zones



Sharjah Airport FZE (SAFE):  Sharjah is the third largest Emirate in the UAE and could be considered an industrial suburb of the Emirate of Dubai.  The emirate is devoted to mainly industrial activity and contributes nearly half of the UAE’s industrial GDP.  The current Ruler of Sharjah is H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi.  It is the only UAE Emirate with ports on the Arabian Gulf’s west and east coast with direct access to the Indian Ocean (Port Khor Fakkan and Port Khalid), and an international airport.  A modern highway connects both coasts (Port Khalid and Port Khor Fakkan) to the SAFE zone thereby enabling companies to have access to the “Sharjah Link.”  The 120 KM road transfer can save up to 48 hours shipping time as well cut freight and insurance costs for both importers and exporters.  Sharjah’s strategic location in the center of the UAE makes it an ideal hub for industrial activity and in fact has been so for the past 65 years. 

The SAFE free zone is located adjacent of the Sharjah International Airport, has approximately 3900 companies currently operating out of it, and possesses all the usual benefits applicable to UAE free zones as well as a no deposit customs policy for cargo in transit between Sharjah Seaports and the SAFE zone.  The SAFE zone also has back-up services provided by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sharjah Expo Center, and over 40 international banks.  Sharjah International Airport dominates the charter operations sector and handles more export volumes than any other airport in the Middle East region. In fact,   Lufthansa Airlines, which runs its second largest cargo hub out of Sharjah after Frankfurt, operates 360 flights and moves more than 48,000 tons of cargo out of Sharjah per month.[1]  Sharjah airport has cargo airlines operating to 42 Commonwealth of Independent states and 32 Indian and Far Eastern destinations.

Facilities for manufacturing, assembling, packaging, import, re-export, trade and value-added activities are provided for at SAFE.  All types of services and activities are permitted within the SAFE zone except those restricted by law.  Currently, companies in the SAFE zone are operating in aviation, manufacturing, services, and trading.  In addition, the SAFE zone has a 24 hour hotline for hire of equipment and cargo movement.

SAFE zone provides temporary storage, bunkers and container parking, as well as four different sizes of pre-built warehouses in addition to the temporary 82 square meters warehouses offered for immediate customer use.  The warehouses can be used for storage and distribution, assembling and packaging, and for light and medium industrial use.  In addition, the free zone provides fully serviced and furnished executive offices with reception and secretarial services as well as leased land for unrestricted private development.  Office sizes start from 21 square meters and rentals are inclusive of utilities and parking. 

There are four types of licenses available in the SAFE zone: Industrial, Commercial, General, and Service Licenses. There are four possible company vehicles within SAFE: Free Zone Establishment, Free Zone Company, and Branch of Foreign Company.  In order to set up the Branch Office, the investor needs to have a company already registered in the UAE or overseas including offshore.  In terms of the Free Zone Companies and Establishments, both vehicles are separate legal entities and provide limited liability. 

An incorporator(s) must have a minimum capital of 150,000.00 AED in order to apply for company incorporation within SAFE.  In order to apply for company incorporation, one must submit a complete application and project outline to the Sales and Marketing Department.  Once an approval letter is obtained, the investor then must pay the lease amount and sign the lease agreement with the Sales and Marketing Department.  The investor will then obtain the license, lease agreement and keys of the leased premises.  Permits and licenses can be issued within 24 hours.  Depending on which company vehicle the investor would like to incorporate, the following documents are required to submit: Application Form, Project Summary, Passport Copies of Owners/Managers; Certificate of Incorporation of Registration; Memorandum or Articles of Association; Board Resolution to open a branch in the SAFE zone and Power of Attorney Appointing Person in Charge; Bank Statement of Account for the last three months; Balance Sheet for the last two months; Local Auditor Letter; and Statement of Minimum Capital Requirement. 

Hamriyah FZE: The Hamriyah Free Zone, also located in Sharjah, has all the usual benefits applicable to UAE free zones in addition to having its’ own port. Additional advantages include: 25 year renewable land leases; pre-built warehouses and office units for lease; furnished executive office suites; international business center; on-site accommodation for investor’s employees; highly developed infrastructure and telecommunication’s link with three sea ports (Khalid, Khor Fakkan and Hamriyah); cheap energy costs, and an affordable cost of living.  

Port Khalid offers the following advantages: Equipped with 13- berth deepwater facilities; Handles a wide variety of tonnage ranging from tankers, container vessels, Ro-Ro ships, pure cargo carriers, reefer ships, passenger ships, heavy lift ships, jack up rigs, bulk carriers, and traditional dhows; Equipped with a modern container terminal; 24 hour operational port, container/freight station/ distribution center and a Ro-Ro terminal; at the forefront of offshore/onshore oil-related activities; leading Ro-Ro port in the Middle East for vehicles; A host of shipping services including ship repair facility; Public user cold stores; Customs bonded stores; Dedicated warehousing facility, Temperature controlled storage facilities; Support bases on Sharjah Creek; and Efficient customs clearance facilities.[2]

Port Khor Fakkan offers the following advantages: Connected to Port Khalid, the airport and Hamriyah Free Zone by a modern highway; 4-berth facility served by 10 container gantry cranes, Close to main east-west shipping lanes and outside the straits of Hormuz; Hub Port for trans-shipment traffic into the Arabian Gulf, Indian Sub-Continent, and CIS countries; Transit Cargo represents over 75% of the cargo handled; All port operations controlled by online Advanced Container Management System (CMS) and interface conversion programs developed to integrate CMS with various shipping lines worldwide; and Repair facilities at Khor Fakkan Container Terminal.[3]

Furthermore, through the Emiri decree issued on November 12, 1995 regarding the establishment of the Free Zone, investors are guaranteed security of investment and full repatriation of capital and investments. 

All activities are allowed except those prohibited by law.  There is no requirement to add-value to products and investors can use Hamriyah free zone merely to ship goods in and out of the country.  The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce provides assistance to international investors in the Hamriyah Free Zone.  Investors whom are exporting goods require Chamber membership in order to get the Certificate of Origin from the Chamber and membership can be arranged through the Free Zone Authority. 

In order to open a bank account in the UAE, a business/ investor is required to submit the following: An introductory letter by the Hamriyah Free Zone Authority; Submission of a copy of the Hamriyah Free Zone License; A copy of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce Registration Certificate; A copy of the Power of Attorney of the Authorized Signatory Regarding Bank Operations; and A copy of the Company Registration Certificates.   The documents must be attested by the UAE Embassy in the parent country followed by attestation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE.

The types of licenses issued by the Hamriyah Free Zone include: Industrial; Commercial; Service; and Conditional National Industrial Status for Industrial License Holders.  The types of company vehicles available in the Hamriyah Free Zone include: Branch of a UAE Company; Branch of an International Company; Single Shareholder Free Zone Establishment; and Multi-Shareholder Free Zone Company. 

Free Zone Establishments and Companies are limited liability entities.  A Free Zone Entity must have only one single shareholder while the Free Zone Company must have a minimum of two shareholders and a maximum of five shareholders.  The minimum capital requirement is 150,000.00 AED with the Free Zone Establishment shares in multiples of 150,000.00 AED and the Free Zone Company shares in multiples of 1000.00 AED.  No shares may be transferred without the prior approval of the Hamriyah Free Zone.  For both entities, there should be at least two Directors and one Secretary.  If a foreign national is appointed as a Director or Secretary, that person must hold valid residence and work permits for the UAE.  At least one of the Directors and the Secretary must be resident of the UAE.  The Secretary and Director can be the same person.  Both entities must abide by the Implementing Rules and Regulations, which is equivalent to the Articles of Association. 

In order to incorporate a Free Zone Company or Establishment, if an individual applicant, one must submit the following: Personal Details of the Shareholder/Shareholder (Passport Copies); Banker’s Reference (Original); Appointment of Manager and specimen of his or her signature (Original/Notarized); Appointment of the Negotiator and Specimen of his or her Signature (Original/Notarized).  If a Company Applicant, one must submit the following: Certificate of Registration/Good-Standing of the Company (Notarized); Articles of Association (Notarized); Board Resolution of the Company to own the Free Zone Establishment/Company (Notarized); Bank References(Original); Appointment of Manager and specimen of his or her signature (Original/Notarized); Appointment of the Negotiator and Specimen of His Signature (Original/Notarized). 

Then, the investor needs to submit the Application Form with the documents stated above.  On approval of the project, the Free Zone Authority will issue a letter to a UAE Bank so that the Investor can open an account in the name of the company and deposit the minimum capital.  On presentation of the Bank Certificate certifying the minimum capital requirement, the Free Zone Authority will then issue the Certificate of Incorporation.  The Investor then submits the Certificate of Incorporation to the Bank and can start using the Bank Account for business. 

*This information was taken from UAE Free Zone Investment Guide, Edition 2; Setting Up in Sharjah by Essam Al Tamimi and the following websites:

[1] UAE Free Zone Investment Guide, Edition 2, p. 74.

[2] Essam Al Tamimi, Setting Up in Sharjah, p. 99.

[3] Ibid p. 100.

Company Incorporation in the Dubai International Financial Center



The free-zone set up for financial[1] and ancillary service providers, the DIFC or Dubai International Financial Center is the only free zone in Dubai which has its’ own legal system equipped with courts and an arbitration center based on the English common law.[2]  However, the entrepreneur should be aware that the UAE criminal law applies entailing that if convicted of criminal activity within the DIFC, the entrepreneur may be forced to serve time in a UAE prison.  What may seem like a minor offence for a foreigner may be punishable within the UAE.   All other UAE free zones are subject to UAE civil law.

Entrepreneurs who wish to provide services in respect of underwriting mergers and acquisitions, venture capital/private equity, foreign exchange trading, trade finance, asset management, capital market and Islamic Finance operations usually investigate their possibilities within the DIFC.  The DIFC offers 100% ownership and zero percent tax as well as the freedom to repatriate capital and profits without foreign exchange or other restrictions, a dollar denominated environment, transparent operating environment, is highly regulated, conducts strict enforcement of anti-money laundering laws, and has an international stock exchange with primary and secondary listings of both equity and debt instruments.  The Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX) or (NASDAQ Dubai) is a stock exchange in which regional and international companies can list their shares and other issued securities to attract international investors and raise capital.[3]

Registrar of Companies

The Registrar of Companies (ROC) was established under Article 7 of DIFC Law No. 3 of 2006 (Companies Law) as a statutorily created “Centre Body,” as defined in DIFC Law No. 9 of 2004, pursuant to which the principal Centre Bodies of the DIFC were established and assigned their respective roles and responsibilities.

The ROC staff advises on, receives, reviews and processes all applications submitted by DIFC company incorporation applicants seeking to establish a presence in the DIFC in accordance with the DIFC Companies Law, the DIFC General Partnership Law, the DIFC Limited Partnership Law, or the DIFC Limited Liability Partnership Law and the relevant implementing regulations.[4] (DIFC regulations)

DIFC Company Vehicles

One can incorporate within the DIFC in the form of various vehicles including a limited liability company, company limited by shares, limited liability partnership, recognized limited liability partnership, foreign recognized company (branch entity), general partnership, recognized partnership, recognized limited partnership, limited partnership, transfer of limited partnership into the DIFC, or one can transfer an already existing incorporation into the DIFC. Link to application forms:

Under the DIFC Companies Law, a prospective registrant may seek to establish a company limited by shares (LTD), limited liability company (LLC) or a branch office of a pre-existing foreign company (Recognized Company).  A party may also seek to transfer the incorporation of an existing company to the DIFC from another jurisdiction (Continued Company).

Under the DIFC Limited Liability Partnership Law, an applicant may seek to establish a limited liability partnership (LLP) or a branch of a pre-existing foreign limited liability partnership (RLLP).

Under the DFIC General Partnership Law, an applicant may see to establish a general partnership (GP) or branch of a pre-existing foreign general partnership (RP).

Under the DIFC Limited Partnership Law, an applicant may seek to establish a limited partnership (LP) or a branch of pre-existing limited partnership (RLP).

A party may also seek to transfer an existing limited partnership into the DIFC from another jurisdiction (Continued Limited Partnership/Foreign Limited Partnership). 

An LTD or LLC may be established in the DIFC by one or more natural persons or corporate entities (persons).  LLPs, GPs and LPs may be established by two or more persons provided that in the case of an LLP, a natural person is the “designated member” of the LLP.  The Recognized Company may only be set up by another corporate entity while the Recognized Partnership may only be set up by other existing partnerships.  While LTDs, LLCs, LLPs and LPs are “incorporated” entities having separate and independent legal status from their incorporator(s), Recognized Companies and Recognized Partnerships are only “registered” and not “incorporated” entities and therefore do not have separate legal status and are in fact mere extensions of the foreign-incorporated company/partnership.

A transfer of incorporation establishes the transferred company in the DIFC under the DIFC Companies Law.   A transfer of a limited partnership transfers a partnership to the DIFC under the DIFC Limited Partnership Law.
Upon the establishment of an LTD, LLC, LLP or LP, the Registrar of Companies (ROC) issues to the incorporator(s) a “Certificate of Incorporation.”  Upon the establishment of a Recognized Company or Recognized Partnership/Recognized Limited Liability Partnership/Recognized Limited Partnership, the ROC issues to the head office or partnership a “Certificate of Registration.” Upon transfer of incorporation or limited partnership to the DIFC, the ROC issues to the transferred company a “Certificate of Continuation.”

The three documents are identical in form, bearing the seal and signature of the ROC, the name and status of the incorporated, continued or registered entity, its’ registration number and the date of issuance.

Non-Regulated Commercial License

The application for a certificate of registration, incorporation or continuation is considered also to be an application for a Commercial License.   According to the DIFC Operating Regulations, simultaneously with the issuance of a certificate of incorporation, registration or continuation, the ROC issues a corresponding Commercial License. Also according to the DIFC Operating Regulations, the purpose of a Commercial License is to expedite contracting for municipal and commercial services essential to the establishment and operation of the licensee’s premises and the carrying out its on-going operations.

As per the DIFC Operating Regulations, the Commercial License states the license number as well as the licensee’s name, operating name, legal status, address, permitted activities, authorized manager’s name, and the issuance and expiry dates of the license. Furthermore, the Commercial License does not authorize the licensee to undertake Financial Services that requires a DFSA license.[5]

Financial Services Company Incorporation

  1. First, the prospective licensee/registrant’s inquires with the Business Development Department (BDD) of the DIFC, specifically with a representative of one of the five sub-departments of the BDD (Banking, Asset Management/Fund Registration, Capital Markets, Islamic Banking and Complimentary – i.e., auditing/accounting or legal – Services) which has the specific responsibility for the financial services’ activity contemplated by the applicant.  
  2. Once the prospective licensee’s intended financial service activities have been reviewed and accepted by the BDD, who will liaise closely with the DFSA to see whether such activity is acceptable to the DFSA, the prospective licensee is provided application forms which they must fill out completely and submit directly to the DFSA.
  3. The prospective licensee must also pay a non-refundable license application fee which varies according to the intended financial activity.
  4. The DFSA reviews the submitted application, and will indicate to the prospective licensee whether a license will be issued or not.
  5. If the prospective licensee is not going to be issued a license, the process ends there.
  6.  If the prospective licensee is to be issued a license, they are so advised and are then required to approach the ROC to register their company prior to a license being formally issued.
  7. Once a prospective licensee has been registered with the ROC, the latter will liaise with the DFSA regarding its issuance of the registrant’s financial services license.[6]

Ancillary Service Providers Application

The DIFC incorporates a host of ancillary service providers whose objects are not related to financial services.  For an ancillary service provider, the initial steps to incorporate would be to conduct:

  1. First, an Introductory and familiarization meeting with the DIFC client relations department regarding the possibility of establishing the contemplated business within the DIFC.
  2. If one passes this screening, one must pay to the Client Relations Department a complete/signed application form, a business plan and the non-refundable application fee.
  3. If the application is accepted, it is forwarded by the client relations department to the DIFC Registration Review Committee (RRC). 
  4. If the application is accepted, the applicant is informed, and client relations then forwards the applicant the formal application forms to become established within the DIFC, which must be submitted in accordance with the Companies Law.  The RRC reviews the application documents and if the documentation is complete, the Certificate of Incorporation and Registration will be issued to the applicant, along with its non-regulatory commercial license.

There is no minimum capital requirement, however, one must be able to meet liabilities as they fall due.  For ancillary service providers, one must appoint a designated individual who is a UAE resident to act as a principal representative to the DFSA. 

Ancillary service providers may be provided with office space for 1-3 people in one of the DIFC business centers if space is available.  In fact, if space is available, one is required to take the space.  A business center is basically a large space in which they place many companies but each company has their own separate office area separated by cubicle and equipped with everything one needs to run an office.  This is temporary until the office is completed, which may take up to one year and a half.  If no space is available in the business centers, one may lease office space outside the DIFC with a non-objection letter from the DIFC.  One may contact Martin at 971 (0)4 362 2283 or Jihad at 971 (0)4 362 2230 to discuss leasing options further. 

Overview of each company vehicle, application procedure, and checklists:



[1] The areas of DIFC activity include: Banking services; capital markets; asset management and fund registration; insurance and reinsurance; Islamic finance; business processing operations, and ancillary services.

[2] DIFC law is applied within the DIFC on civil and commercial matters.   UAE law applies to criminal issues. The DIFC Judicial Authority is responsible for administering and enforcing civil and commercial laws within the DIFC.  THE DIFC Courts deal with all claims and cases within the jurisdiction of the DIFC.  The DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Center Rules are based on a combination of civil and common law principles however are tailored to meet the needs of dispute resolution at the DIFC.

[3] Essam Al Tamimi, Setting Up In the Dubai International Financial Center.


[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

Legislative Creation of the Dubai International Financial Center



  1. Article 121 of the UAE Constitution was amended for the purpose of enabling the UAE to enact a Financial Free Zone Law.
  2. Federal Law No. 8 of 2004 was enacted, which served as the basis for financial free zones throughout the Emirates.


            Article 2 of Federal Law No. 8 of 2004 states:

  1.  ‘A Financial Free Zone shall be established pursuant to a Federal  decree. It shall have a juristic personality and the chairman of its  Board of Directors shall be its lawful representative. It shall be solely responsible  for the obligations arising from the conduct of its activity. The Cabinet shall define its location and area.’


  • Federal Law No. 8 of 2004 states that the financial free zones are subject to all provisions of the Federal law except federal civil and commercial laws.  Therefore, the financial free zones can create their own legal systems to deal with civil and commercial matters.  However, federal criminal law still applies within the financial free zones.

          Article 3 of Federal Law No. 8 of 2004 states:

  1. ‘Financial Free Zones, and all the activities therein, are subject to the  provisions of the Federal Law No. (4) of 2002 Concerning the Criminalization of Money Laundering.
  2. Further, these zones and Financial Activities are subject to all provisions of Federal law with the exception of the Federal civil and commercial laws.’

3.  Federal Law No. 35 was enacted, which created the Dubai International Financial Center financial free zone.

4. Dubai Law No. 9 of 2004 established the Dubai International Financial Center as an independent entity not subject to the rules and regulations of Dubai.

 5. Dubai Law No. 12 of 2004 was passed, which established the DIFC Judicial Authority and the DIFC Court System.

Enacted laws of the DIFC and DFSA

The Marriage Fund in the UAE


The Marriage Fund was set up by Federal Law No. 47 of 1992 and allows UAE national male grooms of at least 21 years of age to apply for a 70,000.00 AED marriage grant. The applicant must be employed with a monthly salary and must intend to marry a female UAE national of at least 18 years of age.  


Federal Law No. 47 for the year 1992

Article 1

Created a public corporation called the Marraige Fund with full, independent legal personality powers to initiate legal actions for the implementation of its objective.


Article 2

The Fund aims to achieve the following purposes:

1. Encourage citizens to marry citizens and remove obstacles facing it.

2. Provide financial grants to citizens of the state who have limited resources to subsidize the cost of marriage.

3. Contribute to family stability and create social, cultural, and religious awareness  of marriage through the implementation of this social policiy.


Article 4

The Fund is administered by a board headed by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs.  Four members of the board represent Media, Islamic Culture, Industry, and Labor and Affairs and shall be appointed by the Governing Council Members upon the decision of the Council of Ministers upon the proposal of the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs.  And the Vice Chairman of the Council shall be chosen from among the members of the Governing Council. 


Article 5

The Board of Directors of the Fund is in charge of the policy and overseeing the proper management of the Fund and to achieve its objectives in exercising the following functions:

1. Developing action plans for the Fund and adopting programs and projects necessary to achieve its objectives.

2. Propose administrative regulations and financial and technical resources required for the functioning of the Fund to the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs for presentation to the Council of Ministers for approval.

3. Approve the annual budget of the Fund and its final accounts and obtaining the approval of the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs before  submitted  it for approval by the Cabinet.

4. Acceptance of contributions, financial, bequests, and donations in kind from institutions and associations, charities, and individuals.

5. Identification of Investment Funds.

6. Agree to open bank accounts to deposit the fund.

7. Approve the appointment of the director of the fund.

8. Adoption of the annual inventory for the fund and property.

9. Select an auditor for the Fund and determine his or her fees.

10. Prepare the annual report on the activities of the Fund and submit it to the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs for submission to the Council of Ministers together with proposals and concerns.

11. Consider what is transmitted to them by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs in terms of the issues which fall under the jurisdiction of the Fund.

12. Any other functions determined consistent by the Counicl of Ministers for the purpose of the Fund.


Article 14

The fund seeks to assist the public in the completion of his marraige and to overcome the obstacles that prevent the completion of this goal in line with the habits of the society of the United Arab Emirates.

Article 15

The Fund grants not less than 60,000.00 AED and not more than 70,000.00 AED and the conditions of the Fund regulates the payment of the grant. 

Article 16

The applicant must be a male citizen of at least 21 years of age intending to marry a female citizen of 18 years of age in order to enjoy the nationality of the United Arab Emirates.  The applicant must be of low income who cannot afford marriage and requires social assistance to get married. 


* See for the remainder of the Law.

*Recent MOU with the Chamber of Commerce and the Marriage Fund:


UAE Constitution Series, Part XI, Final and Transitional Provisions



Article 144

  1. Subject to the provisions of the following paragraphs, the provisions of this Constitution shall apply for a transitional period of five Gregorian years beginning from the date of its entry into force in accordance with provisions of Article 152.
  2. A. If the Supreme Council considers that the topmost interest of the Union require the amendment of this Constitution, it shall submit a draft constitutional amendment to the Union National Assembly.  B. The procedure for approving the constitutional amendment shall be the same as the procedure for approving laws. C. The approval of the Union National Assembly for a draft constitution amendment shall require the agreement of two-thirds of the votes of members present.  The President of the Union shall sign the constitutional amendment in the name of the Supreme Council and as its representative and shall promulgate the amendment.
  3. During the transitional period , the Supreme Council shall adopt the necessary measures to prepare a draft permanent Constitution to take the place of this temporary constitution.  It shall submit the draft permanent Constitution to the Union National Assembly for debate before promulgating it.
  4. The Supreme Council shall call the Union National Assembly into extraordinary session at a time not more than six months before the end of the period of validity of this temporary Constitution.  The permanent Constitution shall be presented at this session.  It shall be promulgated according to the procedure laid down in paragraph 2 of this Article

Article 145

Under no circumstances, may any of the provisions of this Constitution be suspended, except when martial law is in force and within the limits specified by this law.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, sessions of the national assembly of the Union may not be suspended during that period nor may the immunity of its members be violated.

Article 146

In case of necessity defined by law, martial law shall be declared by a decree promulgated with the approval of the Supreme Council on the basis of a proposal made by the President of the Union with the consent of the Council of Ministers of the Union.  Such decree shall be notified to the Union National Assembly at its next meeting.  Martial law shall be similarly lifted by decree issued with the approval of the Supreme Council when the need, for which it was imposed, no longer exists.

Article 147

Nothing in the application of this Constitution shall affect treaties or agreements concluded by member Emirates with states of international organizations unless such treaties or agreements are amended or abrogated by agreement between the parties concerned.

Article 148

All matters established by laws, regulations, decrees, orders, and decisions in the various member Emirates of the Union in effect upon the coming into force of this Constitution, shall continue to be applicable unless amended or replaced in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.  Similarly, the measures and the organizations existing in the member Emirates shall continue to be effective until the promulgation of laws amending them in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Article 149

As an exception to the provisions of Article 121 of the Constitution, the Emirates may promulgate legislations necessary for the regulation of the matters set out in the said Article without violation of the provisions of Article 151 of the Constitution.

Article 150

The Union authorities shall strive to issue the laws referred to in this Constitution as quickly as possible so as to replace the existing legislations and systems, particularly those which are not consistent with the provisions of the Constitution.

Article 151

The provisions of this Constitution shall prevail over the Constitutions of the member Emirates of the Union and the Union laws which are issued in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution shall have priority over the legislations, regulations and decisions issued by the authorities of the Emirates.  In case of conflict, that part of the inferior legislation which is inconsistent with the superior legislation shall be rendered null and void to the extent that removes the inconsistency.  In case of dispute, the matter shall be referred to the Union Supreme Court for its ruling.

UAE Constitution Series Part X, Armed Forces and Security Forces



Article 137

Every attack upon any member Emirates of the Union shall be considered an attack upon all the Emirates and upon the existence of the Union itself, which all Union and local forces will cooperate to repeal by all means possible.

Article 138

The Union shall have army, navy, and air forces with unified training and command.  The Commander in Chief of these forces and the Chief of the General Staff shall be appointed and dismissed by means of a Union decree.  The Union may have a Union Security Forces.  The Union Council of Ministers shall be responsible directly to the President of the Union and the Supreme Council of the Union for the affairs of all these forces.

Article 139

The law shall regulate military service, general or partial mobilization, the rights and duties of members of the Armed Forces, their disciplinary procedures and similarly the special regulations of the Union Security Forces.

Article 140

The declaration of defensive war shall be declared by a Union decree issued by the President of the Union after its approval by the Supreme Council.  Offensive War shall be prohibited in accordance with the provisions of international charters.  Council of Ministers of the Union, t he Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Finance Interior, the Commander in Chief and the Chief of the General Staff.  It shall advise and offer views on all matters pertaining to defense maintenance of the peace and security of the Union.  Forming of the armed forces, their equipment and development and the determination of their posts and camps.  The Council may invite any military adviser or expert or other persons it wishes to attend its meetings but they shall have no decisive say in its deliberations.  All matters pertaining to this Council shall be regulated by means of a law.

Article 142

The member Emirates  shall have the right to set up local security forces ready and equipped to join the defensive machinery of the Union to defend, if need arises, the Union against any external aggression.

Article 143

Any Emirate shall have the right to request the assistance of the Armed Forces or the Security Forces of the Union in order to maintain security and order within its territories whenever it is exposed to danger.  Such a request shall be submitted immediately to the Supreme Council of the Union for decision.  The Supreme Council may call upon the aid of the local armed forces belonging to any Emirate for this purpose provided that the Emirate requesting assistance and the Emirate to whom the forces belong agree.  The President of the Union and the Council of Ministers of the Union collectively, may, if the Supreme Council is not in session, take any immediate measure which cannot be delayed and considered necessary and may call the Supreme Council into immediate session.

Nice Overview of UAE Politics Provided by UAE Government

UAE Constitution Series Part IX: Financial Affairs of the Union


Article 126

The general revenues of the Union shall consist of the income from the following sources:

  1. Taxes, fees and duties imposed under a Union law in matters within the legislative and executive jurisdiction of the Union.
  2. Fees and rates received by the Union in return for services provided.
  3. Contribution made by member Emirates of the Union in the Annual Budget of the Union in accordance with the article herein coming after.
  4. Union Income from its’ own properties.


Article 127

The member Emirates of the Union shall contribute a specified proportion of their annual revenues to cover the annual general budget expenditure of the Union, in the manner and on the scale to be prescribed in the Budget Law.

Article 128

The law shall prescribe the method of preparing the general budget of the Union and the final accounts.  The law shall also define the beginning of the financial year.

Article 129

The draft annual budget of the Union, comprising estimates of revenues and expenditure, shall be referred to the Union National Assembly at least two months before the beginning of the financial year, for discussion and submission of comments thereon, before the draft budget is submitted to the Supreme Council of the Union, together with those Comments, for assent.

Article 130

The annual general budget shall be issued by a law in all cases where the budget law has not been promulgated before the beginning of the financial year.  Temporary monthly funds may be made by the Union decree on the basis of one twelfth of the funds of the previous financial year.  Revenues shall be collected and expenditure disbursed in accordance with laws in force at the end of the preceding financial year. 

Article 131

All expenditure not provided for in the budget, all expenditure in excess of the budget estimates and all transfers of sums from one part to another of the Budget must be covered by a law.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, in cases of extreme urgency, such expenditure or transfer may be arranged by decree-law in conformity with the provisions of Article 113 of the Constitution.

Article 132

The Union shall allocate in its annual budget a sum from its revenue to be expended on building and construction projects and internal security and social affairs according to the urgent needs of some of the Emirates.  The execution of these projects and the disbursement thereon shall be drawn from these funds accomplished by means of and under the supervision of the competent Union bodies with the agreement of authorities of the Emirates concerned.  The Union may establish a special fund for this purpose.

Article 133

No Union tax may be imposed, amended or abolished except by virtue of law.  No person may be exempted from payment of such taxes except in the cases specified by law.  Union taxes, duties and fees may not be levied on any person except within the limits of the law and in accordance with its provisions.

All rights are reserved for the Federal National Council 2003.

UAE Constitution Series Part VIII, The Emirates


Article 116

The Emirates shall exercise all powers not assigned to the Union by this Constitution. The Emirates shall all participate in the establishment of the Union and shall benefit from its existence, services, and protection.

Article 117

The exercise of rule in each Emirate shall aim in particular at the maintenance of security and order within its territories, the provision of public utilities for its inhabitants and the raising of social and economic standards. 

Article 118

The member Emirates of the Union shall work for the co-ordination of their legislations in various fields with the intention of unifying such legislations as far as possible.  Two or more emirates may, after obtaining the approval of the Supreme Council, agglomerate in a political or administrative unit, or unify all or part of their public services or establish a single or joint administration to run any such service.

Article 119

Union law shall regulate with utmost ease matters pertaining to the execution of judgments.  Requests for commissions of rogation, serving legal documents and surrender of fugitives between member Emirates of the Union.

All rights reserved for the Federal National Council 2003.

Article 121

Without prejudice to the provisions of the preceding article, the Union shall have exclusive legislative jurisdiction in the following matters:

Labor relations and social security; real estate and expropriation in the public interest; extradition of criminals, banks, insurance of all kinds, protection of agricultural and animal wealth; major legislations relating to penal law, civil and commercial transactions and company law, procedures before the civil and criminal courts, protection of cultural, technical, and industrial property and copyright, printing and publishing, import of arms and ammunitions except for use by the armed forces or the security forces belonging to any Emirate, other aviation affairs which are not within the executive jurisdiction of the Union, delimitation of territorial waters and regulation of navigation on the high seas.

Article 122

The Emirates shall have jurisdiction in all matters not assigned to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Union in accordance with the provisions of the two preceding Articles.

Article 123

As an exception to paragraph 1 of Article 120 concerning the exclusive jurisdiction of the Union in matters of foreign policy and international relations, the member Emirates of the Union may conclude limited agreements of a local and administrative nature with the neighboring states and regions, save that such agreements are not inconsistent with the interests of the Union or with Union laws and provided that the conclusions of such agreements, it shall be obligatory to suspend the matter until the Union Court has ruled on that objection as early as possible.  The Emirates may retain their membership in the OPEC organization and the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or may join them.

All rights are reserved for the Federal National Council.

UAE Constitution Series, Part VII, Union Legislations and Decrees and the Authorities Having Jurisdiction Therein



Union Laws

Article 110

1. Union laws shall be promulgated in accordance with the provisions of this Article and other appropriate provisions of the Constitution.

2. A draft law shall become a law after the adoption of the following procedure.

  • The Council of Ministers shall prepare a bill and submit it to the Union National Assembly.
  • The Council of Ministers shall submit the bill to the president of the Union for his approval and presentation to the Supreme Council for ratification.
  • The president of the Union shall sign the bill after ratification by the Supreme Council and shall promulgate it.


3. a. If the Union National Assembly inserts any amendment to the bill and this amendment is not acceptable to the President of the Union or the Supreme Council, or if the Union National Assembly rejects the bill, the President of the Union or the Supreme Council may refer it back to the National Assembly.  If the Union National Assembly introduces an amendment on that occasion, which is not acceptable to the President of the Union or the Supreme Council, or if the Union National Assembly decides to reject the bill, the President of the Union may promulgate the law after ratification by the Supreme Council.  B. The term ‘bill’ in this clause shall mean the draft which is submitted to the President of the union by the Council of Ministers including the amendments, if any, made to it by the Union National Assembly. 

4. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the situation requires the promulgation of Union Laws when the National Assembly is not in session, the Council of Ministers of the Union may issue them through the Supreme Council and the President of the Union, provided that the Union Assembly is notified at its next meeting.

Article 111

Laws shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Union within a maximum of two weeks from the date of their signature and promulgation by the President of the Union after the Supreme Council has ratified them.  Such laws shall become in force one month after the date of their publication in the said Gazette, unless another date is specified in the said law.

Article 112

No laws may be applied except on what occurs as from the date they become in force and no retroactive effect shall result in such laws.  The law may, however, stipulate the contrary in matters other than criminal, if necessity so requires.

Laws issued by Decrees

Should necessity arise for urgent promulgation of Union laws between sessions of the Supreme Council, the President of the Union together with the Council of Ministers may promulgate the necessary laws in the form of decrees, which shall have the force of law, provided that they are not inconsistent with the Constitution.

Such decree-laws must be referred to the Supreme Council within a week at the maximum for assent or rejection.  If they are approved, they shall have the force of law and the Union National Assembly shall be notified at its next meeting.  However, if the Supreme Council does not approve them, they shall cease to have the force of law unless that it has decided to sanction their effectiveness during the preceding period, or to settle in some other way the effects arising there from.

Ordinary Decrees

Article 114

No decree may be issued unless the Council of Ministers has confirmed it and the President of the Union or the Supreme Council, according to their powers, has ratified it.  Decrees shall be published in the Official Gazette after signature by the President of the Union.

Article 115

While the Supreme Council is out of session and if necessity arises, it may authorize the President of the Union and the Council of Ministers collectively to promulgate decrees whose ratification is within the power of the Supreme Council, provided that such authority shall not include ratification of international agreements and treaties or declaration or remission of martial laws or declaration of a defensive war or appointment of the President or Judges of the Union Supreme Court.

UAE Laws and Islamic Finance

Laws of the UAE and Islamic Finance