Expatriates will not be allowed to sponsor a second wife, according to an official at the Sharjah Naturalisation and Residency Department. He said the move is an attempt to check immoral activities. "We have already stopped issuing visas to a second wife of an expatriate employee," the source said.

He said Muslims, according to Islamic Sharia, can marry up to four women under specific conditions. "Some people exploit these provisions for immoral activities. A number of expatriates use the clause to bring in women from their native countries and involve them in immoral activities."

In another development, the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department has confirmed that the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Interior have jointly decided to introduce a one year ban on employees whose residence visa has been cancelled and who do not belong to any of the categories of employees who are exempt from the recent visa transfer rules, according to Major Jassem Abdul Ghafour, Head of the Public Relations Section.

He said the ban applies to all employees who have not been allowed to transfer their sponsorship. Employees disputes are being looked into by courts.

He there are no changes in residence visa rules for expatriates with new born children whether they are born inside or outside the country. He said the father has to meet the salary criteria set by the law to sponsor his children - Dh3000 with company-provided accommodation or Dh4000 per month.