Abu Dhabi: The Federal National Council (FNC) has approved a draft federal law regulating places of worship for non-Muslims.
The draft law aims to promote the values of tolerance and coexistence and will apply to all such places across the country, including those located in free zones. This was at a meeting chaired by FNC Speaker Saqr Ghobash at the parliamentary headquarters in Abu Dhabi today.
The draft law also proposes the establishment of a committee to review and classify non-Muslim religious practices, rituals and customs in the country. Based on recommendations from relevant ministries, the UAE Cabinet will decide on the committee’s composition, working system and other responsibilities.
The competent entity will maintain a register of licensed or designated roles and places of worship, and the data kept by this register must contain the information provided in the implementing regulations of the draft law.
Terms and Conditions
The FNC has put out an article on the allocation of worship rooms, which stipulates the following:
– The implementing regulations of the draft law set out the conditions, requirements and procedures for the allocation of places of worship by the competent authorities.
– The competent authority issues a final permit, granting the individual legal status of the place of worship from the date of issue.
– The proposed law requires every place of worship to open a bank account with a local bank according to the rules and standards set by the law implementing regulations.
According to the draft law, anyone who violates any provisions of laws, regulations or related decisions will be fined between Dh100,000 and Dh3 million. Penalties prescribed by law shall apply without prejudice to more severe penalties prescribed by any other law.
Existing places of worship will have to comply with the proposed law within six months of the executive order’s implementation. This deadline can be extended for up to two years in increments of six months.