Abu Dhabi Allow Non-Muslim Civil Marriage Under Family Law Reorganization

Non-Muslims will be able to marry, divorce and obtain joint custody of children under civil law in Abu Dhabi, according to a new decree issued on Sunday by their ruler, the state news agency WAM said.

It is the latest step in the United Arab Emirates, where personal status laws on marriage and divorce had been based on the principles of Islamic sharia, as in other Gulf states, to maintain its competitive advantage as a regional trading center. .

The decree of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan of Abu Dhabi, who is also president of the UAE federation of seven emirates, says that the law covers civil marriage, divorce, alimony, joint custody of children. and the paternity and inheritance test.

Its aim is “to enhance the position and global competitiveness of the emirate as one of the most attractive destinations for talent and skills,” WAM said.

The report described the civil law regulating non-Muslim family affairs as the first of its kind in the world “in line with international best practice.”

An illustration of a bride and groom during a civil marriage outside the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on December 9, 2020 (Credit: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH 90)

A new court will be established in Abu Dhabi to handle non-Muslim family matters, operating in both English and Arabic.

Last year, the UAE introduced a number of legal changes at the federal level, including decriminalizing premarital sex and alcohol consumption, and canceling leniency provisions when it comes to so-called “honor killings.” .

These reforms, along with measures such as the introduction of longer-term visas, have been seen as a way for the Gulf state to become more attractive to foreign investment, tourism, and long-term residency.


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