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Adoption in the UAE
Legal Articles: UAE Family Law
By Mr. Hassan Elhais - Legal Consultant in Dubai
Sadly a great number of children are abandoned in the United Arab Emirates each year. Most
likely this is as a result of young mothers being fearful of the repercussions of bearing a child
outside wedlock. It is a criminal offence in the United Arab Emirates to have a sexual
relationship outside marriage.
In practice without clear evidence of the offence, no criminal sanctions are implemented.
However the birth of a child to unmarried parents is clear evidence. 6 newborn babies were
found abandoned in the UAE in 2011 alone. The publicity of these abandoned children has led
to the issue of adoption being discussed frequently in the local press.
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, typically to Ethiopia
or Mexico. The adoption process for expatriates can still be conducted from the United Arab
Emirates, regardless of the nationality of the parents.
Abandoned children that have been born in the UAE obtain can obtain UAE citizenship and a
UAE passport. This is set out at Article 2(e) of the Federal Law 10 of 1975, which amends the
Federal law 17 of 1972. The law states that a child will be deemed abandoned in the UAE unless
Under Sharia law, 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. The Federal laws of the UAE (based on Sharia laws) circumvent
this issue by allowing the adoptive parents to nominate the child’s first name, whereas the
Court would order the child’s surname. In practice the children being adopted within the UAE
are always abandoned, therefore their true identity at the time of adoption is not known. It is
therefore possible for the Court to nominate the child’s new surname, making it the same as
the adoptive father’s.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hassan Elhais
After qualifying as a lawyer in his native Egypt and years of successful practice within the field
of criminal and public law, Mr. Elhais moved to Dubai in 2005 and has been practicing as a legal
consultant in Dubai since then. Working exclusively with Al Rowaad Advocates, Hassan is an
effective leader of the company, the spokesperson and driving force. Hassan has a strong
ethical stance with regards to the place of the law firm and its work on behalf of the client,
from clarity on the legal process through to the fee system.
Specializing in the drafting of all statement of claim, memos and consultation with regards to all
kind of litigation, Hassan has worked his way through the ranks of Al Rowaad Advocates from
joining as Legal Advisor to his current role as Managing Partner. Member of Egypt Bar
Association; Member of International Bar Association; and Recommended Lawyer of Embassy
of United States in Abu Dhabi.
Copyright Hassan Elhais
More information about Hassan Elhais – Legal Consultant in Dubai