In light of the current quarantine and social distancing measures due to the spread of COVID-19, the lives of citizens and residents has changed drastically. These measures include working and studying remotely, and temporarily closing shopping centers, shops and restaurants to reduce human contact. Banks, financial institutions and government service centers were also affected and imposed restrictions for people to access them.
For its part, the UAE has taken a number of steps to ensure the continuous availability of public services. One example is the Ministry of Justice's initiative which started providing remote marriage contracts that allow wedding ceremonies while adhering to preventive measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The entire marriage process, starting from marriage contract registration to the reading of the Qur’an, is completed remotely while using a digital technology.
To ensure social distancing and limit human contact, the Ministry was keen to provide the remote marriage contract. The authority meets with the couple and their parents at once, and the marriage contract is executed without the need for all parties to be present.
The new E-Marriage Contract was activated on April 12 through the website of the Ministry of Justice (moj.gov.ae). New couples can access the e-Zawaj platform (which bears the symbol of two wedding rings), register all the required information, and make an appointment with the Imam to read the Qur'an via video call.
After the authorized entities confirm the appointment, the couple pays the required fees via an electronic payment method, then the contract is signed electronically and sent by e-mail to the legal court. Subsequently, the court checks all the information, approves the marriage contract and sends it directly to the couple's mobile number.
It is worth mentioning that Malaysia had launched a similar initiative as the National Fatwa Committee for Islamic Religious Affairs had authorized remote marriage ceremonies in Malaysia.
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