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Friday, 5 May, 2000, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK
World's first e-mail divorce

A United Emirates Court is set to issue a landmark ruling on the legality of divorce by e-mail.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

The Gulf News reported on Friday that a US citizen of Arab origin had used e-mail to inform his Saudi wife, who was living at a different address, of the divorce before filing a case at Dubai's personal status court.

Under Islamic law, a man is allowed up to four wives and can divorce one simply by telling her "I divorce you", if certain conditions are met.

The newspaper said the court would have to rule if the notification of divorce through the internet was valid under the Gulf Arab emirate's laws, or whether it should have been delivered verbally.

A source close to the case told the French news agency AFP that the divorce between the two, both journalists in their thirties, was close to being finalised.

The man, who has since remarried, had also informed his estranged wife of his remarriage by e-mail, the source added.

Cybercity

Dubai, a liberal trading and tourism hub whose oil reserves are running out, has been quick to embrace the electronic age.

It is set to launch itself as an internet free-trade zone in October, costing $200m in its initial phase.

In April, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum warned officials they would lose their jobs if they refused to go electronic.

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