First civil marriage finalised at Abu Dhabi's new non-Muslim court

A Canadian couple registered their union in a legal first for the emirate

The Non-Muslim Family Court opened earlier this month and will hear all cases related to marriage, custody, divorce, paternity, inheritance and personal status. Photo: Abu Dhabi Judicial Department

A Canadian couple have helped break new legal ground by registering Abu Dhabi's first civil wedding.

The pair registered their union at the capital's new Non-Muslim Family Court on Monday, according to state news agency Wam.

The court opened earlier this month and will hear all cases related to marriage, custody, divorce, paternity, inheritance and personal status.

Sessions will be held in Arabic and English to ensure foreigners understand them and to improve judicial transparency.

Youssef Al Abri, undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said the completion of the civil marriage contract was an unprecedented step forward for the region.

The court is part of new legislation introduced last month to better support foreign residents of the emirate.

The new family law, issued by President Sheikh Khalifa, includes equal legal rights for men and women, joint custody and the expediting of divorce procedures.

“The establishment of the first specialised court for non-Muslim family matters is part of the continuous efforts being made to further develop the judicial system of the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” Mr Al Abri said following its establishment.

“The personal status law for non-Muslims, which is applied by the court, is the first of its kind in the world to apply civil principles in the regulation of family matters, as it addresses the smallest details regarding non-Muslim family issues, and provides a modern judicial umbrella for foreigners to resolve disputes in a flexible manner in accordance with international best practices."

Mr Al Abri said the department is acting on the directives of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and chairman of the department, to ensure the legal system keeps pace with global developments in line with its tolerant values.

The civil marriage registration service is available on the department's website for residents and tourists.

Registration is completed remotely through video technology.

Updated: December 28th 2021, 11:47 AM