More than 6,000 couples have married at Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court in the first six months of this year, it has been revealed.
Figures provided to The National show a significant surge in residents and tourists seeking legal resolution to their family matters.
The court has received more than 16,300 requests since the marriage law was introduced in 2021.
Requests relate to issues such as civil marriage, custody battles, divorce proceedings, paternity disputes, inheritance conflicts and personal status, and are governed under non-Sharia law.
Figures show that about 6,500 marriages have been registered at the court so far this year, compared to 6,000 last year.
So far in 2023 the court has received an average of 40 marriage requests per day from residents and tourists.
Applications can be submitted online for Dh300 ($81), and the processing times enable couples to tie the knot within a few weeks.
Abu Dhabi Judicial Department also introduced an express service last August, which allows couples to get married within 24 hours of submitting their application at a cost of Dh2,500.
Residents and tourists, of any nationality or religion, can marry and register a prenuptial agreement at the court.
However, Emiratis are not permitted to marry at this court.
Counsellor Youssef Al Abri, Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, said there is growing demand among foreigners for these services.
“The figures show a judicial boom attained by Abu Dhabi, and remarkable progress in terms of achieving prompt justice and providing an advanced and bilingual judicial platform that provides all court services in both Arabic and English,” Mr Al Abri told The National.
“The judicial services are provided in a unique way for the Arab region, in response to the growing demand for services provided to foreigners.”
The Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court was established in 2021 to hear all cases governed under a non-Sharia process.
The dedicated family court for non-Muslims opened with the aim of bringing the emirate into line with international legal practices.
The court has witnessed 400 civil divorce cases so far, including 191 cases in 2022 and 186 in the first half of 2023.
“This reflects the success of the court in providing a modern mechanism to divorce without the need to provide a justification as to the reason for the breakdown of the marriage. A ruling is issued at the first session before the judge,” a spokesperson for the judicial department told The National.
“The court issues civil divorce judgments in a record time of 11 days, which puts the court on the global map in the field of prompt dispute settlement and justice.”
The Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court also allows for joint and equal custody of children to be granted to both parents after a divorce.
The court has also received a total of 3,157 requests from foreigners to register civil wills.
There have been 1,632 such requests so far this year, compared to 1,525 last year.
“There is high demand for registering civil wills. The judicial department provide a bilingual form in English and Arabic. The will can be registered and notarised from anywhere in the world,” the department said.
As for civil inheritance, the court registered 270 cases brought by expatriates – 126 so far this year, compared to 143 recorded in 2022.