Abu Dhabi: Law on divorce, inheritance for non-Muslims

The capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi, has issued new rules to govern divorce, inheritance & child custody for non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi.

Key facts

  • Abu Dhabi will create a new court for handling these cases.
  • Hearing will be held in Arabic as well as English languages in order to make it understandable to vast foreign worker population there.
  • New laws will only be applicable in Abu Dhabi.

What changes have been made?

  • Rule related to child custody has changed. New rule will allow parents to share joint custody of their children.
  • Law also introduced the idea of civil marriage.
  • It also allows wills to be drawn up granting inheritance to anyone a person chooses.
  • Rules also deal with paternity issues.


The new laws were enacted in accordance with the goal of authorities to overhaul the Islamic personal laws in Abu Dhabi. These goals included- allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, criminalizing ‘honor killings’ and loosening alcohol restrictions. In September 2020, Abu Dhabi also ended its alcohol license system. The UAE announced, in September 2021, its plan to stimulate its economy and liberalize residency rules for foreigners.

About Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is one among the seven sheikhdoms of the UAE. It is an oil-rich emirate and the capital of UAE. It is the second-most populous city of UAE, after Dubai.  The city is located on an island in the Persian Gulf. It houses local and federal government offices. The city is also home of the Government of United Arab Emirates and Supreme Petroleum Council.




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