Adoption Rights in the United Arab Emirates

There are many good reasons couples choose to adopt, and the procedure can provide a wonderful solution for adoptive parents, biological parents and children alike. However, the law relating to adoption in the UAE is less straightforward than in other countries in the world, particularly for expatriates. Here are the major points to note if you reside in the UAE and wish to become an adoptive parent.

  • The most important point for expatriates to know is the laws of the UAE prohibit adoption within the UAE by non-Emirati couples. This means that only Emirati citizens holding UAE passports may adopt abandoned children from the UAE.
  • Expatriate couples residing in the UAE must look abroad to adopt children – which is typically done in countries like Ethiopia or Mexico. Fortunately, the adoption process for expatriates can still be conducted from the United Arab Emirates, regardless of the nationality of the parents.
  • Under Sharia law, upon which the country’s Family Laws are based, it is encouraged for parents to care for a child that is not their biological child, and nurture that child as if he was their own. However, it is prohibited for those parents to give the child their own surname.
  • Federal laws of the UAE allow the adoptive parents to nominate the child’s first name, but it is for the courts to determine the child’s surname.
  • However, in practice almost all children adopted within the UAE are abandoned by their parents, therefore their true identity at the time of adoption is not known. It is therefore possible the court will allow the parents to make the child’s surname the same as the adoptive father’s.

In addition to these main points there are a good deal of other laws that may apply in the case of adoption. If you are considering undertaking such an act, it is wise to receive legal advice.


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