Interfaith marriage refers to situations where the spouses who belong to different faiths conclude a marriage.

The United Arab Emirates is a tolerant country and welcomes individuals from different countries and faiths to make the UAE their home. Under the Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 on Personal Status, marriage is considered to be a legal contract between a man and woman which aims to protect and form a steady family (Article 19).

For a marriage to take place under the Personal Status Law, certain conditions would have to be met. These are:

  1. The bride must approve the marriage.
  2. Both the parties must be residents of the UAE. However, in Dubai, at least one party to the marriage should have a residence visa.
  3. A pre-marital screening certificate should be obtained. This is issued by the public healthcare facility in the UAE. This ensures that any communicable disease is not spread.

Marriage of Non-Muslims in the UAE

Non-Muslims can conclude marriage formalities at the embassy or consulate of their country in the UAE or at a temple or a church as per their religion. However, these requirements should be confirmed with the concerned embassy who may also prescribe any additional conditions. The marriage would also have to be registered in the embassies of both partners in the UAE.

Civil Marriage under the Abu Dhabi Law

The Emirates of Abu Dhabi has issued a new law, called the Law No 14 of 2021 Concerning Personal Status for non-Muslim Foreigners (Abu Dhabi Law) which is applicable to non-Muslims foreigners and nationals in Abu Dhabi.

Under the Abu Dhabi Law, a marriage between a man and a woman, who are both non-Muslims is permitted in accordance with the Abu Dhabi Law. For the civil marriage to be contracted, certain conditions will have to be met under Article 4 of the Abu Dhabi Law.

The conditions include the spouses not being less than 18 years old, spouses giving their explicit consent to the marriage before the judge and proving that there is no legal impediment that prevents the marriage, spouses to sign the specified declaration form and any other condition which may be prescribed by the competent authorities.

The civil marriage will not be established between siblings, or with children, grandchildren or uncles in accordance with Article 4/4 of the Abu Dhabi Law.

What is the procedure for contracting a civil marriage in Abu Dhabi? The procedure to contract a civil marriage under the Abu Dhabi Law is explained under Article 5.

In order to contract a civil marriage in Abu Dhabi, the foreigner would have to submit an application in a specified form that is prepared for this purpose. There is no requirement of submitting a medical examination certificate before marriage.

Marriage will take place after both spouses have filled in the form before the judge. The conditions of the contract of marriage may be mutually agreed between the parties, taking into consideration the rights during the marriage and in the event of divorce.

Any previous marital relationship would have to be disclosed in the form. The date of divorce would have to be stated and the proof of non-existence of any current marriage relationship will have to be proved.

Once it is verified that all conditions for contracting a civil marriage have been met, the judge will ratify the marriage after the procedures set out above have been completed. The marriage contract will then be registered in the register which is prepared for this purpose.

Shariah Marriage

Further, citizens and expat residents can conclude their marriage in accordance with Shariah principles, which would be applicable to the following persons, irrespective of their nationalities:

  1. In case both groom and bride are muslims; or
  2. In case of groom is muslim and bride is from “Ahl Al Kitaab”.

Conclusion

Accordingly, marriages can be concluded in several different ways in the UAE, depending upon your residence, your faith and your citizenship.