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Press Dossier    By Date   04/02/2023 New UAE law on civil marriage: Why more expats are tying the knot in Abu Dhabi

Khaleej Times, Saturday, Feb 04, 2023 | Rajab 13, 1444

‏New UAE law on civil marriage: Why more expats are tying the knot in Abu Dhabi

Emirates: With the new Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims coming into effect on February 1, the UAE has streamlined the procedures to acknowledge marriage contracts — making it easier for non-Muslim expats to get married in courts.

The law also covers other family matters, such as divorce, inheritance and child custody.

In Abu Dhabi, however, a similar law has already been in place since December 2021. It allows everyone — from Abu Dhabi residents and expats in other emirates to tourists from different parts of the world — to get married in the UAE Capital.

The emirate's civil marriage scheme has proven to be a success,

According to the figures from the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court, over 6,000 couples from 127 nations had tied their knot under the new civil marriage law. Majority of them were Filipinos who make up 2,300 couples; 830 Indian couples; and then Americans, Russians, Lebanese, Nigerians, and Europeans.

Among those who got hitched in Abu Dhabi are Ugandan couple Immaculate Twebaze, 32 and Gilbert Atamba, 35 — both of whom are staying in the emirate.

They tied the knot at the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court on September 17. “The process was quick, easy and affordable. For real, we had remarkable and beautiful moments which will never fade away from our minds,” Twebaze told Khaleej Times on Thursday.

“The hospitality shown right from the main entrance, the blissfulness, smiles from all court staff, make you feel that marriage is a blessing from God and it's a right path to be taken.”

Sarmila, a New Zealand national, and Julian, a British expat, also registered their union with ease under Abu Dhabi's civil marriage ceremonies on Valentine’s Day last year.

The Dubai couple — who had met using a dating service recommended by friends — said they decided to say 'I Do' on the most romantic day of all, February 14. In fact, it was the court that had suggested Valentine's Day for their ceremony.

Hesham Elrafei, legal expert on UAE laws, said that with over 6,000 civil marriages concluded in a year, secular laws have proven to fill in a need in the Arab world. Couples from different faiths and nationalities now fly to Abu Dhabi to get a civil marriage certificate, he said.

He noted that family law is of fundamental importance when it comes to expats. “It’s one of the driving forces for the economy, as a country can’t attract the best talents without offering a progressive and liberal lifestyle and it is here where family laws play the role,” he said.

“With the new law now extended to cover the UAE and not only Abu Dhabi, we expect Dubai and RAK,in particular, to be added to the wedding tourism destination list,” said the legal expert adding that this healthy competition will benefit the country and the region in general.

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