The Sharia stance on western-style adoption is clear: the practice is haram.
"No man is entitled to adopt an illegitimate child and make him or her his own," said Dr Sheikh Ahmed Al Haddad, Grand Mufti of Dubai. "It is a major sin in Islam."
But Islam encourages couples to foster abandoned children in a relationship akin to guardianship. Many Emiratis do so, and abandoned children are given UAE nationality.
"Fostering a child and raising him or her is a highly praised act, as it contributes to the survival of a human soul," Dr Al Haddad said.
The children cannot take a new family name and do not inherit in the same way but are treated similarly to biological children.
"Fostering or sponsoring a child means providing for his or her feeding, clothing, education and health care," Dr Al Haddad said.
"It also means showing the child kindness and tenderness to make up for his or her parents' love and kindness."
Companies should not be required to provide equal benefits to foster children, he said.
"The purpose of fostering a child is to provide for their needs," Dr Al Haddad said.
"That doesn't mean that a fostered child is entitled to the same rights granted to biological children.
"Sponsorship is an act of charity and it can't be dictated by rules or obligations."