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Marriage and weddings in Dubai, UAE

Saturday 20 December 2014 (UAE)   
 
   
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Getting Married in Dubai and UAE

Expat as well as Emirati couples can and do get married in Dubai. The rules and procedures vary depending on nationality and/or religion. Generally, two people of the same religion can marry without difficulty. People of different religions might face some problems organising a wedding.

  • A common situation is when a Muslim man and Christian woman wish to get married. That's ok (cultural and/or family considerations notwithstanding) but a Christian man will have to convert to Islam before marrying a Muslim woman.
  • Emirati men sometimes marry non-emirati women but the reverse is rare (although not completely unknown).
  • The Dubai Courts oversee procedures and regulations pertaining to marriages. Their website is mostly in Arabic and it is difficult to find relevant information in English. The marriage section tel is +971-4-3347777.
  • The court will not perform a civil service for Christian weddings - you have to go to a church or your embassy or both.
  • Both partners are likely to need a residence visa to get married in Dubai and UAE. It might be possible if only one person has one, we're not sure. But if neither person has a residence visa then it's not possible to get married in Dubai as far as we know. Try Cyprus instead ...
  • Cyprus appears to have a relatively straightforward civil marriage procedure with minimum fuss and no residency requirements, which might be useful for those unmarried residents of the UAE finding themselves unexpectedly pregnant, or in trouble with the law for having sex outside marriage (if you still have your passport and can get yourselves to Cyprus before the court appearance - you might be lucky and get the case dismissed if you can produce a marriage certificate). Or even for those wanting a wedding celebration with less risk of getting sand in their champagne glasses. See the Union of Cyprus Municipalities website at www.ucm.org.cy for more information (link to Civil Marriages information at the bottom of the first page).
Mandatory pre-marital medical tests update 05 June 2012
  • KT report quoted Dr Farida Al Hosani, manager of Communicable Disease at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) as saying pre-marital medical screening and counselling is "mandatory for all residents and nationals planning to get married" (in the UAE, but it wasn't clear from the report if Dr Farida meant Abu Dhabi only, or all emirates in the UAE).
  • The medical test screens for common infectious diseases and genetic disorders, but a complete list was not supplied. Tests include obesity, diabetes, beta thalassemia carriers, sickle cell? The medical certificate is valid for 3 months and obtained at a government medical center in Abu Dhabi or other emirate.
  • The HAAD pre-marital screening program started in April 2011.
29 December 2007 update - pre-marriage certificates from government hospitals only

From 19 November 2005, anyone getting married in the UAE (expats and nationals) needed a medical fitness certificate to prove they were free of infectious diseases, which could be issued at private and government hospitals and medical clinics. From the end of January 2008, you'll have to do this test at Ministry of Health affiliated government hospitals and medical clinics, according to a Khaleej Times report 29 December 2007.

25 September 2007 update - compulsory blood tests

Emirates Today newspaper reported that both Emiratis and expats must have a blood test before getting married in Dubai as of 09 September 2007. The Dubai Health Authority says screenings will be introduced in other emirates also. The blood test costs AED 260 for expats, nothing for UAE nationals with a health card. Results take a week and are apparently kept confidential and not included in the certificate issued by the Dubai Health Authority for use in court (where a marriage has to be registered). The blood test screens for Aids, sexually-transmitted diseases, and hereditary diseases such as thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia (common genetic disorders in the UAE). Only an HIV-positive result can be used to stop a marriage, but health officials will outline the risks of the other conditions.

Documents required for getting married in the UAE

There might be some variation depending on emirate.

Christian Weddings

Do something like this (it will vary depending on nationality).

  • Go to your embassy and find out what the procedure is. You'll need to bring passports and sign an affidavit to say you're not already married and there is no hindrance to getting married or something similar, you may need to bring witnesses. It may be possible to get married at your embassy, otherwise you'll have to go to a church.
  • If you're both of different nationalities, you'll need to contact both your respective embassies to find out what the best or correct procedure is.
  • UK citizens need to post wedding banns. This will cost several hundred dhs and you'll have to wait 3 weeks or so before you can collect the banns and go to a church to get married.
  • US citizens need to get married by a pastor (phone one of the churches to make this arrangement).
  • Indian citizens can apparently get married at their embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • If you make a date with one of the Christian churches to get married, expect to pay fees of about 1000 dhs plus additional costs for flowers, photography, dress, suit, cake, air fares for friends and families, and all the usual accoutrements.
  • If you were married in an English speaking church, you will receive a marriage certificate in English. This needs to be translated into Arabic by a court approved translator for your marriage to be valid in the UAE. Fees should be less than 100 dhs.
  • You then need to submit both documents to the Notary Public Office at the Dubai Courts for certification (another 100 dhs fee). You may need to have UAE residence visas to be able to do this.
  • Then you need to go to the Ministry of Justice to get the certification authenticated.
  • Then you need to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the MoJ authentication authenticated.
  • Then you need to go back to your embassy to get the MoFA authentication authenticated so that your marriage certificate is authenticated for validity in your home country. If you are of different nationalities, you'll have to go to both your respective embassies.

St Mary's Church in Bur Dubai has priests available to talk to from 8am-12pm and 4-6pm every day except Fridays and Sundays about procedures. But phone to double check on holidays or during Lent.

Islamic Marriages
  • You both need valid UAE residence visas (if you're not UAE citizens).
  • Go to the Marriage Section of the Dubai Court with
    • The bride's father or guardian or his attorney.
    • Two male Muslim witnesses.
    • Passports and copies and identification papers for the guardian and witnesses.
    • Proof of divorce or death of husband for the bride if applicable.
    • If the bride is Muslim and her father is not, she needs a no objection letter from her embassy (or consulate) in Arabic (or translated into Arabic and attested by the Ministry of Justice) and attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    • 100 dhs for fees (take some more just in case).
  • You'll receive a UAE marriage license.
  • To authenticate it for validity in your home country, take it to the Ministry of Justice, then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then your embassy (or consulate) for authentication at each stop. Bring a few hundred dhs for processing fees.
Mixed religion weddings
  • If the bridegroom is Muslim and bride is not, contact the Marriage Section of the Dubai court. You may be able to get married there. See the procedure for Islamic marriages above.
  • If the bride is Muslim and the bridegroom is not, you cannot get married in Dubai until the bridegroom becomes Muslim. Then see the above section about Islamic marriages.
  • For religions other than Islam or Christian, contact your respective embassies to find out what the best procedure is.
  • Christian churches will usually only marry a couple if both are Christian.
Contact details
  • Al-Diwan (Legal Translation Division), Office 209, Modern Pharmacy Building, Nassar Square, Al Maktoum Street, Deira. Tel +971-4-2232189.
  • Arabian Translation Center, PO Box 6549, Sharjah. Tel +971-6-5615552.
  • British Embassy, Dubai. Tel +971-4-3094444.
  • Christ Church (Anglican), Jebel Ali. Tel +971-4-8845436.
  • Consulate General of India, Dubai. Tel +971-4-3971222 or +971-4-3971333.
  • Dana Translation, PO Box 7992, Dubai. Tel +971-4-3935702.
  • Diamond Legal Translation, Office 07, Block C, Golden Fork Restaurant Building, Rigga Road, Dubai. Tel +971-4-2273133.
  • Dubai Courts Marriage Section. Tel +971-4-3347777.
  • Eman Translation Services, Modern Pharmacy Building, Office 104, Nasser Square, Al Maktoum Street, Deira. Tel +971-4-2247066.
  • Embassy Of India, Abu Dhabi. Tel +971-2-4492700.
  • Emirates Baptist Church International (Southern Baptist). Tel +971-4-3491596.
  • Holy Trinity Church, Oud Metha Road, Dubai. Tel +971-4-3370247.
  • Ministry of Justice, near Garhood Bridge. Tel +971-4-2825999.
  • St Mary's Church (Catholic), Oud Metha Road, Dubai. Tel +971-4-3370087.
  • St Francis of Assisi Church (Catholic), Jebel Ali. Tel +971-4-8845251.
  • United Christian Church of Dubai (Interdenominational). Tel +971-4-8846623, email info@uccdubai.com, website www.uccdubai.com.
Last update Monday 28-Apr-2014
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