The United Arab Emirates — where foreigners make up 90 percent of the approximately 10-million population — has been amending its laws to present itself as a modernising force in a largely conservative region.
Civil marriages are allowed in Tunisia and Algeria.
Late last year, the UAE revamped an array of laws in a social liberalisation drive designed to burnish its progressive brand.
These included lifting a ban on unmarried couples living together, loosening restrictions on alcohol and offering long-term residencies.
Earlier this month, the UAE announced it will move to a Western-style Saturday-Sunday weekend.
Competition is hotting up as neighbouring Saudi Arabia, seeking to diversify its oil-reliant economy, aims to turn its capital Riyadh into an international hub.
Last year, Riyadh said it would not sign contracts with companies that have their regional headquarters outside the kingdom.