How to get married in Abu Dhabi

All you need to know to plan your wedding in the capital Discuss this article

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Abu Dhabi attracts a variety of people from all over the globe. And when all these different people interact, magic often happens and they fall in love. But what if you want to take the next step and make your love official?

The task of getting married in a foreign country might appear daunting, but here in Abu Dhabi, there are many procedures and resources in place to make the sure all those boring but essential legal protocols can be sorted out simply and efficiently.

‘At the core of it, marriage is essentially a legal contract between two consenting adults,’ says local lawyer Ziad Salloum. ‘So while many people might find the legal requirements in completing their papers to be a bit tedious or cumbersome, they are nevertheless necessary before the couple-to-be can move on and enjoy a lifetime of marital bliss.’

Religion and your nationality

The main factors that determine organising a wedding here, according to Ziad, are you and your loved one’s religious and national backgrounds, and there are certain criteria that must be met in order to be legally
wed in this city.

The first step is to visit the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) and inform the marriage department that you intend to wed. You will be told of the necessary paperwork required, as well as the fee that has to be paid. The documents they need from you include passport copies with valid residency visas, birth certificates, proof of single status and a medical test. Although the website of the Judicial Department asks for the birth certificate as a requirement, it is advisable to check as this is not always necessary.

Having a residency visa makes the process simpler, but it’s not impossible to wed if your partner is on a visitor’s visa. If the bride to be doesn’t have a residency permit, then she must be accompanied by her father and should complete a medical test. If the future husband is on a visitor’s visa, then he needs to complete the medical test.

The bride to be’s father plays a pivotal role for a marriage in a Sharia court. The woman must be accompanied by a male relative to give her away to her spouse. If her father is deceased or unable to visit the country, then she must support this with paperwork (copy of death certificate) and in this case the closest male relative can act as her guardian. If there is no relative available, then the ruling judge can temporarily act as the woman’s guardian.

In most cases, the woman will be required to prove that she is free to get married. This will often involve getting a paper from her embassy attesting that she is single, widowed or divorced.

Two witnesses are necessary at the time of the marriage. If the couple being wed are both Muslim, then there should be two male Muslim witnesses, however they should not be related to the woman. People getting married who are not Muslim can have witnesses of any religion. In some cases, couples at the courthouse will just ask people in the vicinity to act as witnesses. This is acceptable as long as they are carrying valid UAE identification.

Muslims from any country can wed each other at the ADJD. Additionally, a Muslim man can wed a woman from a different religious background, provided she is Christian or Jewish. However, a Muslim woman is not allowed to wed a non-Muslim man in the UAE. In this case, the couple’s only options would be either to travel abroad and have a civil marriage, or have the man convert to Islam. The conversion process is fairly simple; the groom to be would have to declare his intention at the ADJD. Depending on the governing procedures at the time, the conversion could take a few days or could require several weeks to complete. ‘In some cases where conversion is done just before marriage, the groom might be asked to complete a short course on Islam,’ says Ziad.

Christians wishing to tie the knot are able to do so at some churches in the city, such as St. Andrews Church or St. Joseph’s Church. Hindus may also marry in a temple, although most embassies can perform the ceremony as well, for most religions.

‘It is very important to check with your embassy concerning marriage procedures,’ advises Ziad. ‘The British embassy used to offer this service, however it no longer does except under very exceptional circumstances. However the French and Indian embassies do.’

By Sara Taher
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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