Secular Israeli couple choose Abu Dhabi civil court for marriage

More Israeli couples have booked non-religious weddings in the Emirati capital

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Abu Dhabi's civil court has registered the first marriage between an Israeli couple.

In a simple ceremony held at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, groom Itamar Bareket and bride Nogah Meroz Mioni, both 26, tied the knot on Monday.

The couple flew from Tel Aviv on Saturday ahead of the occasion.

Civil marriages are not permitted in Israel and only religious leaders can perform marriage ceremonies. ADJD officials said five Israeli couples have applied for civil marriages so far.

Many Israelis are seeking civil marriages all over the world. Abu Dhabi is a short flight and a lovely destination so I'm sure many more will follow
Nogah Bareket

More are expected due to direct flights between Israel and the Emirati capital.

"It was really exciting. We got really emotional," Mr Bareket, who works for a tech company in Tel Aviv, told The National.

"We follow a secular life and in Israel, we don't have the option of a civil marriage."

It is common for secular Israelis to travel to the Maldives, Seychelles or Cyprus for civil marriages.

"We don't follow any religious sect and wanted the ceremony to be as closest to our lives as possible," said Nogah, who works in education.

The couple applied to have a civil marriage in the UAE online last month and were given a date for the ceremony.

An Emirati court official smiled and posed for photos with the happy couple as she completed the brief proceedings.

"My parents were the first Israeli couple to get a civil marriage in Seychelles. So this feel like a family tradition," Nogah said with a laugh.

"I know many Israelis are seeking civil marriages all over the world. They look at Seychelles and Maldives. Abu Dhabi is a short flight and a lovely destination so I'm sure many more will follow," she said.

The couple plan to move to the UAE and settle here soon.

"I'm not a religious person but today is the Jewish New Year and it is a remarkable date - we are glad that our marriage starts with the start of the new year," Nogah said.

Whether to allow civil marriage in Israel remains a major debate.

About half of Israeli adults want their party to push for civil marriage to be legalised in the November electrions, a poll last month showed, while Orthodox voters are strongly opposed.

To date, at least 3,000 civil marriages have been performed at Abu Dhabi's new family court. The process is entirely separate to the UAE's state marriage system, which is based on Islamic teachings.

The dedicated family court, part of legislation introduced in November to better support residents in the emirate, hears all cases related to marriage, custody, divorce, paternity, inheritance and personal status.

Last month, guests from around the world flew into Abu Dhabi to join celebrations of the biggest Jewish wedding held in the UAE.

UAE's largest Jewish wedding - in pictures

Updated: September 27, 2022, 8:51 AM