Young couple in Dubai. Image for illustrative purpose only. Credit: GCShutter via Getty Images

Society UAE1. December 2021

Civil Marriage Is Now Allowed in This Muslim Country

In an effort to maintain its edge as a foreign investment, tourism, and long-term residency hub, Abu Dhabi will now allow non-Muslims to be married, divorced, and entitled to joint child custody under civil law.

The new decree, set forth by Abu Dhabi’s ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, is the first of its kind in the world “in line with international best practices”, according to a report.

State news agency WAM said in the report, “[The new law aims to] enhance the position and global competitiveness of the emirate as one of the most attractive destinations for talent and skills.” What’s more, a new court is to be constructed in Abu Dhabi to handle non-Muslim family matters, with operations in both Arabic and English.

Last year, the United Arab Emirates introduced many legal changes at the national level, including the decriminalization of premarital sexual relations and alcohol consumption. The country has also introduced longer-term visas, a move that widens the scope of potential immigrants. Now, with the new leniency in the Abu Dhabi law for non-Muslims, foreign interest in the emirate is indeed likely to be peaked more than ever before.


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