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Scales of Justice (Arabic) E-mail


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Scales of Justice is the story of the 50-year history of Dubai Courts. Formed in 1958, the courts were somewhat revolutionary on the Trucial Coast, the pinnacle of a legal system built by the late Dubai Ruler in order to underpin the modern city-state he sought to forge. Half a century on, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has succeeded in creating a 21st century metropolis and Dubai Courts continues to serve. Scales of Justice shows the growth of the emirate, and details how the courts have underpinned Dubai’s remarkable success story.

In 972 noted Arab traveller Ibn Hawqal visited Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, considered strategic due to its importance for Mediterranean trade routes. He described the city of Palermo in his book Al-Masalik wal Mamlik as “the city of the 300 mosques”.

Sicily, according to many historians, is the crux where Islam met Christianity and, due to the ease in which they co-existed on its 25,000 square kilometres, had the opportunity to cross-pollinate. With the fall of Sicily to the Normans, Norman influence spread from the Crusader States in the Near East to Great Britain and Ireland.

This set the stage for a crucial link between Shariah, English common law and Latin law. Much of the basis of English common law, with its roots in Sicilian Shariah, was enshrined, in 1215, by the Magna Carta, Latin for Great Charter.

From 1215 the process of codifying and developing modern law continued. In the 17th and 18th centuries common law absorbed merchant law, the recognised international code of mercantile customs.

Shariah’s influence on the major international legal systems, and the world’s merchant system, made Dubai’s transition from feudal law to a modern legal system altogether smoother after 1958.

That year, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum acceded as Ruler of the sheikhdom. He was an ambitious man, who rejected the status quo and  believed that Dubai, and its people, should be propelled into the 20th century. Sheikh Rashid also believed in the fundamentals. Just as he developed his city-state, added infrastructure and created a booming economy he understood that, for sustainable growth, Dubai needed the basics. This included a strong legal framework, underpinned by a court system that quickly became the most advanced in the Gulf.

Dubai Courts reached its 50th anniversary in 2009. A testimonial to the success of this department is the number of those who study it. Every year a  growing number of official groups from the Arab world visit in order to assess Dubai Courts’ workings. Many of these come from states which had established court systems hundreds of years earlier.

Scales of Justice examines the success of Dubai Courts, assessing the role that the organisation has played within the growth of the emirate. From the era of Sheikh Rashid, to the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Courts has quietly underpinned Dubai’s forward motion. It has coped with the demands of an exploding population, and consistently morphed, adapting to the new realities of a developing legal framework, and the demands of the 21st Century.

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