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What does Abu Dhabi’s new non-Muslim law entail?


The new law in Abu Dhabi — the first civil law in the Emirates dealing with non-Muslim family problems — is a real game changer for the UAE’s talent acquisition. For a very simple reason because just like the UAE; Abu Dhabi is the 2nd largest home to expats from around the world.

The intend of this law was to “improve the emirate’s position and worldwide competitiveness as one of the most attractive locations for talent and skills,” according to the statement made by the authorities.

In this article; we draw comparison between the situation prior to the law and where we stand now.

What was the situation like earlier?

According to Sharia law, a marriage can only be performed if both the bride and groom are Muslims. In other situations; if the man is Muslim and the bride is a Jew, Christian, or Zoroastrian. It is important to note that only Muslim men are permitted to marry non-Muslim women. According to Sharia, this does not apply to Muslim women.

Physical injury had to be proven as a reason for divorce for non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi. Even after filing for divorce, spouses were required to visit the Family Guidance department. The court would then appoint a conciliator who attempted to bring the two partners back together.

Even after the divorce was finalised, the issue of child custody remained fraught with complications. “Custody and guardianship are two separate issues that must be addressed separately as parents do not share equal duties for a kid in the UAE,” according to the old law. The mother would have custody of the kid, while the father would be a guardian who would be responsible for the child’s financial needs.

What has changed since then with the new laws?

The new law would witness a paradigm shift with Non-Muslims in the Emirate. To begin with, the new rule does not require the agreement of the woman’s guardian, which was previously required by Sharia law. For a marriage to take place, all that is required is the consent of both the man and the woman.

Non-Muslims can now seek a divorce from a Muslim couple without having to prove physical injury occurred during the marriage. In addition, either spouse can seek for divorce. After a divorce, the new rule allows both parents to have joint custody of the kid and to split custody equally.

Final Verdict on the new laws for Non Muslims in Abu Dhabi

The new law is in line with UAE’s policy of adapting to changing circumstances and updating laws as needed. In 2020, the UAE took a significant step forward by reforming its laws to decriminalize premarital sexual relations and criminalize honor killing. It “reflects Abu Dhabi’s legislative leadership and the international recognition it has attained.”

Abu Dhabi has made some huge changes in this laws; its time for you to share this good news with your friends and relatives living there.

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