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uae-wedding-guide

Getting Married In The UAE

Your wedding day is one of the most memorable days in your life and can be even more exciting in a special location. So why not rejoice this important day in the fastest growing region in the Middle East?  The United Arab Emirates has experienced an influx of people visiting its shores for several reasons, but weddings are top of the list.  Have your dream wedding on a sun-kissed beach, or in an exceptional resort set in the heart of the desert. You’re spoilt for choice with a range of indoor and outdoor venues to make your wedding a once in a lifetime celebration.

Fact File Highlights
Weather & Climate Culture & Etiquette
Food & Drink Money & Wedding Costs
Legal Requirements The Emirates

Fact File

  • Size: 83,600 km²
  • Population: Approximately 9.2 million
  • Capital City: Abu Dhabi
  • Currency: United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)
  • Languages Spoken: Arabic (official), English, Hindi, Urdu, Persian
  • Main Religions: Islam, Christianity and Hinduism
  • Major Holidays and Festivals:
    • New Year's Day (Ra's as-Sana al-meladiah) - January 1
    • Eid ul-Adha (Day of the Sacrifice) - Varies every year
    • Ra's as-Sana al-Hijria (Islamic New Year) - Varies every year
    • Al-Isra'a wal-Mi'raj (The Night Journey) - Varies every year
    • Yawm al watani (National Day) - December 2
    • Eid ul-Fitr (End of Ramadan) - Varies every year

Highlights

The UAE  has an overabundance of wonderful hotels that have in-house wedding packages that will ensure you a grand ceremony for family and friends. Be it in a hotel overlooking turquoise waters in the The Palm Atlantis, or on the floury soft golden beaches of Jumeirah, in a charming chapel or in a tranquil desert location, the UAE offers you a personalized celebration in a unique setting of your choice.  One can also visit the various bridal and wedding events taking place within the country all the time, catering and vision experts, local wedding photographers or get in touch with out-of-the-box  thinking wedding planners who are sure to save you time, stress and money.

In the meantime there are plenty of tourist attractions to visit that can make your stay in the Emirates a memorable one.  Leading the charge is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, one of the largest mosques in the world. The sheer brilliance of this white marble edifice is sure to take your breath away. Or push your limits on adrenaline pumping speed thrills and stimulators at Ferrari World, the world’s first Ferrari themed amusement park. Speed demons can head to the Formula One Circuit on Yas Marina to drive a Chevrolet Camaro and feel like a racer for a day.

Witness the beauty of the Dubai Mall fountain and enjoy a breathtaking view of the world’s fastest growing city from the observation deck of the iconic Burj Khalifa. A drive around Downtown Dubai will showcase the city’s architectural delights. Enjoy an arm-in-arm stroll with your loved one at the JBR Walk right into a champagne sunset at the beach. Shopaholics can do the mall rounds! Else cruise along the lazy waters of the Creek on a romantic Dhow Cruise dinner. If you want to fit in some serious jewellery shopping before your big day, then don’t stop till you reach the ancient Gold Souk.

For SUV enthusiasts, one shouldn’t miss going on a Desert Safari to experience the traditional Arabic hospitality. The  Hatta Pools  and Wadi Al Wurayah in the emirate of Fujairah is perfect for camping and picnics.

Animal Lovers can head to the green city of Al Ain to visit the Al Ain Zoo famous for its white lions, or head to the famous Al Bustan Ecological Park in Sharjah, which houses exotic species of fauna.

Weather and Climate

The UAE has an arid climate. Scorching summers visit the region in July till September. This makes the months of November to May the perfect time to visit when the climate gets cooler and the country is bursting with events for everyone to enjoy. So plan your wedding date accordingly and there will be a plethora of activities to choose from to celebrate your post wedding period.

Culture and Etiquette

The UAE culture reflects Islam and the minarets of the mosques call all Muslim people for prayer five times a day. However the UAE culture has a cosmopolitan influence as well. There are also Hindu temples and Christian churches scattered throughout the country.

UAE etiquette follows these basic rules:

 

 

DO

DON'T

Dress code in public places

 

Women

Wear knee-length skirts or longer.

Wear skin tight tops, revealing tops, extremely short clothes, transparent tops.
Wear bikinis apart from in pools or on beaches.
Swim or sunbath topless.

Men

Wear knee-length shorts or longer.

Walk topless apart from in pools or on beaches.

Public display of affection (for couples)

 

Offer a friendly hug and kiss when greeting someone you know if you feel it's appropriate.

Kiss, hug or sit on laps in an intimate way.

Etiquette in public places

 

 

Yell, shout or shove (even friends).

Photography

 

Take photographs of family, friends and tourist spots.

Take photographs of government buildings or strangers.

Rules of the road

 

Use zebra crossings to cross the street.

Pay attention to traffic rules and signposts.

Cross roads in undesignated areas.

Ignore traffic rules and signposts.

Environment

 

Use bins provided.

Litter.

Failure to abide by these basic rules of etiquette can get you into trouble with the local authorities. Drugs are absolutely forbidden.

Food and Drink

 The most thrilling aspect of travelling to a foreign destination is vested in the opportunity to sample the local food. Even though the United Arab Emirates caters to the cuisines of approximately 200 different nationalities, the local food is worth tasting. The Arabic meal is a combination of meat (lamb, fish and chicken), pita bread and the popular Hummus or chick-pea dip, along with a few vegetables such as tomatoes, aubergines and onions, mint and parsley.  Um Ali is a special Arabic dessert topped with nuts that is sure to titillate your taste buds. Indian-spiced rice is also a favourite. Pork is forbidden according to the laws of Islam, and not available in local eateries. However wedding caterers offer various types of international cuisine suited to your tastes.

Tipping is not compulsory in the UAE, and can be done as you see fit in appreciation of the service provided.

Money and Wedding Costs

 The UAE currency is called the Dirham and it is divided into 100 fils. Debit and credit cards are  accepted everywhere except at small stores and local markets.  While travelling in taxis cash is the best option. Public transport such as the Metro train and shuttle buses only accept a prepaid travel card which can be obtained at their respective stations. Foreign currencies and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged for the Dirham equivalent in Exchange centres, banks and hotels. However to do so, a passport is required. There are ATMs in all the shopping malls, major supermarkets, petrol/gas stations and the airport. It will usually work out cheaper if you pay for your wedding suppliers in the local currency.

Weddings in the middle east are a major attraction and wedding expenses differ from nationality to nationality.  Expenses will also vary according to the chosen wedding venue.  The average wedding can cost anywhere between AED70,000 - AED 150,000, depending on the season. Prices can go considerably higher up during peak seasons of Nov-Feb, and if not booked in advance the chances of getting a suitable date are slim.

Legal Requirements for Marrying in the UAE

Warning The following notes are not comprehensive and are intended as a guide only. Before planning your wedding in the UAE we strongly advise you to contact the United Arab Emirates embassy in your home country or your country's embassy in the United Arab Emirates to obtain up-to-date legal requirements.

Only religious weddings (Muslim, Christian or Hindu) are legal in UAE. Civil Unions are not accepted under UAE law. It is wise to note that some churches will only agree to marry members of their own denomination (even though this requirement does not fall under the UAE law).

If a couple prefers a non-religious wedding then they can request their respective embassies to conduct this. However many embassies do not offer this service, including:

The British embassy in Dubai will only conduct weddings under special cases subject to obtaining permission from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

https://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-embassy-dubai

Some of the embassies that do perform weddings for their nationals are:

As you can see getting married in the UAE can be quite complicated for certain nationalities. It is always advisable to first confirm with your respective embassy whether it is possible to get married in the UAE, and if so, whether the marriage is recognized in your home country as well.  If it's not possible, you can always have your marriage legally registered at home and have the celebrations in the UAE.

There is no residency requirement for marriage, unless the couple lives in the UAE. In such a case, residents need to show their residency permit to get married. Foreign couples must meet the legal requirements for their wedding under the laws of their home country.

Unmarried couples are not permitted to live together according to the laws of the UAE.

The Emirates

The UAE is divided into seven emirates which form the constitutional federation, and are each independently ruled by a Sheikh and fall under the leadership of the central government. The seven emirates are: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras-Al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain. The federation was established in 1971 by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan to safeguard Arab unity and to protect the oil-rich coast from its powerful neighbours.

Find out more about the Emirates of the UAE or browse our UAE Wedding Directory to start planning your dream wedding.