The official WAM news agency said on Friday that Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the UAE president, had also issued a decree, setting up a state body to combat trafficking in the Gulf state where foreign workers and expatriates make up over 80 per cent of the 4 million population.
The law widens the definition of offences and increases the jail-term to life for organised trafficking and crimes against women, children and the disabled.
The law, whose draft was announced in July, was enacted during a regional tour of Sigma Huda, special rapporteur on trafficking for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The US has criticised four Gulf Arab allies, including the UAE, as some of the world’s worst offenders in permitting human trafficking.
Washington is negotiating a free trade pact with the UAE and is pressing Abu Dhabi to apply international standards to its workforce.
In 2005, the UAE outlawed using children in camel races, a practice condemned internationally as a form of slavery.
Before the law, rights groups said several thousand boys, some as young as four, had worked as jockeys in the lucrative traditional Bedouin sport.
Human rights groups said children, mainly from poor Asian countries, had been abducted or sold by their families and that the boys were kept in prison-like conditions and were underfed to keep them light so the camels run faster.
They also accused the oil-producing country of turning a blind eye to the non-payment of wages, lack of medical care and sub-standard housing for workers who form the backbone of an economy lifted by high oil prices.