Dubai Courts Introduce Non-Muslim Inheritance Department

February 23, 2024by Kartik Shetty0

The Department of Non-Muslim Inheritance respects the cultural and religious views of everyone in a cosmopolitan community. It follows a single-session procedure where the application to open the file and the decision accepting the execution of the will are presented together. 

The Dubai Courts have created the first-ever Inheritance Department for non-Muslims in an innovative measure meant to foster inclusivity and guarantee legal protection for non-Muslim residents. This significant construction demonstrates Dubai’s dedication to diversity and underlines its efforts to offer thorough legal services to its diversified population. The establishment of this specialized division takes care of the special requirements of non-Muslim citizens and streamlines the inheritance procedure, making it easier for everyone living in the Emirate.

In order to initiate the process of opening an inheritance file, the applicants must provide certain documents, depending on their specific requirements and the available documentation. There are different scenarios that determine the required documents.

In the first scenario, a legal notice, an inventory of inheritance, a legal document, or an official document that expressly names the heirs and their respective portions are among the required documents.

In the second scenario, petitioners must provide a certified document from a court in the UAE, except the courts at the Dubai International Financial Centre, attesting to the existence of a will.

In the third scenario, a court order establishing the decedent’s death and naming the heirs is required if none of the documents are available from the aforementioned first and second scenarios. The file can only be opened if the document has been attested by the UAE Embassy in the home country and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if it was made outside of the UAE.

In the fourth scenario, the provisions of Article 18 of Law No. 15 of 2017 are put into effect when the request to initiate an inheritance file is based on a will that has not been authorized by the UAE courts. This involves providing a certified copy of the law that governs the will, whether it be the law of the testator’s nationality or the law mentioned in the will, and registering a lawsuit for the execution of the will. The lawsuit’s administrator is in charge of seeing that all necessary paperwork is completed, court costs are paid, the next available hearing is scheduled, and all parties listed in the will are informed.

The goal of the single-session procedure used by the Department of Non-Muslim Inheritance is to decide on the request in just one session. The application to open the file and the decision accepting the execution of the will are presented together. If more information is required, a request to access the file through the “Wayak” system is made to the court president for approval.

In some circumstances, the court refuses to see the probate files in which a will is issued or authenticated by the Dubai International Financial Centre. A supporting affidavit that names the heirs, regardless of where they reside or whether they fall under consular jurisdiction, may also be found insufficient to identify all of the heirs. In such situations, applicants are allowed to submit a request to the court president via the “Wayak” system for a review and issuance of an approval decision.

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A Step Towards Legal Protection and Inclusivity

In Dubai’s legal system, the creation of the Inheritance Department for non-Muslims is a key turning point. Earlier, non-Muslim people had trouble handling their inheritance issues because the current legal system was mostly based on Islamic law. Dubai has taken a proactive step by establishing this specialized department in recognition of the necessity to serve the diverse community and to guarantee equal access to justice.

By doing this, Dubai has made it quite obvious that, irrespective of their religious or cultural background, it values and respects the rights and interests of everyone in a cosmopolitan community. The action also supports the UAE’s commitment to upholding the rights of everyone and fostering a harmonious society.

Process of Inheritance Reduced

The creation of the Non-Muslim Inheritance Department simplifies the inheritance procedure and makes it possible for non-Muslim people to effectively handle their estates and inheritances. The department will be in charge of a variety of duties, such as the administration and registration of wills, the distribution of assets, and the settlement of any disagreements that might develop during the inheritance process.

Non-Muslims can now have their wills and inheritance concerns handled in a way that respects their cultural and religious views thanks to this dedicated department. This innovation clarifies and guarantees the procedure, giving people peace of mind and guaranteeing the efficient transfer of assets to their selected beneficiaries.

Protections under the law for non-Muslim residents

Legal protections for non-Muslim residents are also introduced with the creation of the Inheritance Department. They can preserve control over the division of their assets in accordance with their wishes since it ensures that their estate planning and inheritance issues are handled by their own private laws.

The establishment of this specialist division simplifies the inheritance procedure for non-Muslim residents and guarantees that their estate planning and asset distribution are subject to their own national laws. Additionally, it increases investor confidence, enhancing Dubai’s standing as a hub of international commerce that respects and values the rights of all people.

Dubai has established a model for jurisdictions around the world with the creation of the Inheritance Department for non-Muslims, proving its dedication to encouraging tolerance, legal protection, and a harmonious society. This forward-thinking move exemplifies Dubai’s goal of being a role model city that embraces diversity and guarantees equal rights and opportunities for all.


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by Kartik Shetty

Kartik is a legal consultant at ATB legal, with a unique blend of skills for civil, corporate and commercial matters. He is a law graduate from Shivaji University, Mumbai and postgraduate from Pune University. He writes about family law and corporate and commercial matters.

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