Procedures for the marriage of Muslims and Non-Muslims Expats and Residents in Dubai
The UAE goes by Sharia Law, which states that marriage is viewed as the only legal bond between man and woman, allowing them to have a lawful relationship. According to Article 365 of the UAE Penal Code, it is prohibited by law for men and women to live together or engage in consensual sex. If the individuals are caught in such circumstances, you can expect a jail term followed by deportation. If you are in love and intend to stay together, marriage is a legal requirement you must fulfill.
Marriage in Islam is identified as a legal contract between a man and a woman. This contract aims to protect the rights of the couple and their future children. For Islamic marriages, the marriage contract among the couple must be registered in a Sharia court in Dubai. The registration guarantees all the legitimate necessities for Muslims who plan to get married in Dubai. For non-Islamic marriages, couples should contact their respective embassies or churches and adhere to the marriage laws pertinent there.
Before elaborating on the laws related to a different type of marriage, let us understand the standard requirements for any marriage in the UAE.
General requirements for marriage in Dubai
The following are the general requirements for all kinds of marriages to take place:
- Approval/consent of the bride (written).
- In Dubai, at least one of the parties to the marriage contract (bride, groom, or bride’s guardian) must have the UAE residence visa.
- In other emirates, both parties should have a UAE residence visa.
- In all Emirates, a positive pre-marital medical screening certificate is a must for the couple issued from the authorized public healthcare facilities in the UAE (pre-marital screening is made mandatory to arrest the spread of communicable diseases like AIDS).
Marital screening test must be done from one of the medical centers listed below:
- Ministry of Health and Prevention (available at several locations in all emirates of the UAE)
- Department of Health – Abu Dhabi
- Dubai Health Authority – Dubai
Islamic Marriage (Sharia Marriage: National and Expatriates)
All nationals and expatriate residents can get married in the UAE. Regardless of their nationality, all Islamic marriages are conducted according to the Sharia law. The following situations are considered under an Islamic marriage in UAE:
- Both the would-be husband and the wife are Muslims, or
- Groom is Muslim, and the bride is Non-Muslim
“Point to note here; the UAE law allows a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman. However, it does not allow a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man unless he accepts Islam before marriage. In such a scenario, you need to submit a certificate of embracing Islam from any Islamic center approved by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.”
Polygamy: The UAE law allows polygamy. In general, a Muslim male is allowed to have four wives, provided he offers equal treatment and maintenance to all his wives.
Important legal requirements for Muslim marriages in Dubai
- All Islamic marriage contracts must be registered in a Sharia court in the UAE.
- The legal age for marriage is 18 Hijri years (otherwise, the judge’s approval is a must).
- A spouse’s age cannot be twice the other (otherwise, the judge’s approval is a must).
- The physical presence of the couple is required.
- The physical presence of the bride’s father is a must. In the absence of a father, two male Muslim witnesses are required.
- The bride’s legal guardian’s consent is required.
- In the case of the father’s demise, the next closest male guardian (such as elder brother) is required.
- The divorcee must submit an official divorce certificate or judgment.
- Widowed men or women are required to submit the death certificate of their late spouses.
- A pre-marital screening certificate is needed.
Requirements for Islamic Marriages of expatriates
- In Dubai, at least one of the parties must possess a UAE residence visa.
- The father of the bride or their marriage lawyer in Dubai must be physically present for the marriage.
- Two male Muslims as witnesses.
- For expatriates, passport and their copies along with the identification proof of witnessed are required.
- If the bride is Muslim and her father is not, she requires a ‘No Objection’ letter from her respective embassy or consulate.
- In the case of divorce or death of the spouse, proof of status must be presented.
Non-Islamic Marriage for expatriate
Marriage in the UAE for foreigners is not a new concept. Expatriates are allowed to get married in Dubai. Dubai is even hailed as one of the most sought-after wedding destinations in the world. Multiple locations in Dubai can turn your wedding a magical event.
However, there are some specific rules and regulations for expatriates, depending on their nationality and religion. Before moving ahead, it is advisable to seek consultation from a legal expert in Family Law.
If both bride and groom are from the same religion, things can be much easier than one from different religions. For instance, if a Christian man wants to marry a Muslim woman, he must convert to Islam.
Both bride and groom are expatriate
For non-Muslims wishing to get married in Dubai, the laws of their home country are applicable. Both spouses must have a valid visa or must be the residence in Dubai. If any of the spouses is in Dubai on a visit visa, they must undergo a proper medical examination before getting married in UAE. The rest of the legal requirements are the same as the general requirements mentioned earlier.
Emirati women marrying expatriate men
Any Emirati woman who wishes to marry an expatriate man must get consent from her parents or guardian. If she is working in the Armed Forces, she must obtain a permit from her employer.
The prospective expatriate groom
- Must hold a legitimate residency visa in the UAE.
- Must not be stateless.
- Must get a certificate of good conduct issued from the UAE.
- If non-Muslim, he must embrace Islam and show proof for it.
Encouraging Emiratis to marry Emiratis
The UAE government encourages marriages among nationals to build a more stable and consolidated Emirati family. This idea aims to protect the social and demographic structure of Emirati culture. In 1992, the UAE established a Marriage Fund under federal law no.47 of 1992. By 2016, the Marriage fund was dissolved, and its scope was brought under the Ministry of Community Development (MOCD). The role of the Marriage fund is to provide financial support and offer grants to deserving Emiratis.
Eligibility for the grant can be decided based on the fulfillment of below requirements:
- Both groom and bride must be UAE nationals.
- The groom’s age must not be less than 21 years, and the bride’s age must not be less than 18 years.
- It should be the groom’s first wedding (exceptions are made if the first wife is dead).
- The net monthly income must be equal or less than AED 25,000, excluding pension and housing allowance.
GCC nationals and citizens of other Islamic countries residing in Dubai
- Any citizen of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain intending to marry a person of different nationality must obtain permission from their respective governments.
- Yemeni women wishing to marry men of different nationalities must obtain consent from the Yemen government via the embassy or consulate.
Court Marriages in Dubai
Dubai courts offer online services for marriage applicants who wish to get married in Dubai courts. The applicants are required to register electronically through the court’s website under eZawai. Dubai courts have over 20 authorized marriage officers (Mazoons) to arrange and perform wedding services, draw up the marriage agreement, and review all documents. The wedding party can utilize the decorated wedding room at Dubai courts to take a few photographs to create the photographic memorabilia for their special days.
Even if you live in Dubai, getting married in Dubai is not an easy thing to do, especially if you are an expatriate. If you still wish to exchange vows in this magical city, be prepared to undergo a lot of paperwork. Marriage Lawyers in Dubai can make your job much easier. You can seek our expert family and marriage lawyers’ legal assistance in Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and other emirates of UAE.