Abu Dhabi: Afghan refugee ties the knot with Canadian fiancé

Couple had planned wedding in Afghanistan in 2021 before the situation in the country made them cancel all plans


Rasha Abu Baker

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Nasir and Sumayyah get married in the Expat Family Court, Abu Dhabi.
Nasir and Sumayyah get married in the Expat Family Court, Abu Dhabi.

Published: Thu 26 May 2022, 8:36 PM

Last updated: Thu 26 May 2022, 11:29 PM

Thursday was a special day for Nasir, 23, and his bride Sumayyah, 19, in more ways than one.

Like any other couple getting married, they too were excited and over the moon with joy.

But then, the story of this union is unlike any other, and beautifully encapsulates what humans can accomplish for the sake of love.

Nasir and Sumayyah from Afghanistan had planned on getting married in 2021. However, the collapse of country at the end of the year turned their world upside down, and the couple found their lives torn apart and their marriage plans taking a back seat.

Seven months ago, Nasir had to flee his country with his family and come to Abu Dhabi, where he has been staying at Emirates Humanitarian City.

Like thousands of other Afghans, he too was waiting to get resettled in the United States, and his life was in a limbo — until recently, when fate intervened to give wings to his love story.

Sumayyah’s father learned about the Abu Dhabi Civil Marriage Court online and decided it was one way his daughter and Nasir could take a step towards their future. “My father saw it and let me know about the possibility of us getting married in Abu Dhabi. Both families decided to go with it,” revealed Summayyah.

And on Thursday, the Expat Family Court in Abu Dhabi finally made it possible for him and Sumayyah to get married.

The bride flew in from Toronto, Canada, with her father. Tears of joy were flowing for the best day of her life.

Nasir told Khaleej Times via video link from Humanitarian City: “It was a wonderful day. Alhamdulillah, like a movie, a memory that I have created and I’m going to remember it every time I close my eyes.”

Dressed in a suit picked by his wife-to-be, he made his way with a police escort to the court in Abu Dhabi’s Judicial Department where the love of his life Sumayyah was waiting, looking radiant in bridal white.

“I felt very good, very beautiful,” said Sumayyah. “I haven’t seen him for nine months. We were very happy that he was able to come out [of the camp] this morning,” she added.

The couple had to apply for a special permit from authorities for him to be able to leave the camp and get married, which the Expat Family Court helped facilitate.

Nasir said: “We were happy just talking and spending time with each other. Because we know that we won’t be able to see each other for a while.”

Born and raised in Canada, Sumayyah was introduced to Nasir during a trip to her native country some years ago. The couple grew closer and fell in love, and were planning their wedding in Afghanistan in 2021 before the situation in the country forced them to cancel their plans.

Now, they both have new hope for the future. “Now that we are legally married, I can finally sponsor him (Nasir) via the spousal sponsorship programme,” Sumayyah explained.

The newly weds cannot wait to be together in Canada, where they can rebuild their life and enjoy the love they found in each other.

What is Abu Dhabi’s Secular Marriage Law?

The Expat Family Court Personal Status Law No 14 of 2021 governs family matters in the UAE

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), issued decision No. 8 of 2022 approving the regulations for the implementation of the Law No. 14 of 2021 in Abu Dhabi.

The family law in Abu Dhabi, which was introduced in 2021, regulates personal status matters for foreigners, including civil marriage, no-fault divorce, joint child custody, and financial rights, applies to all expats, non-residents and tourists regardless of their religion.

The secular law, which has been approved and implemented, now applies to Muslims from the GCC, Arab nations and other countries, a judicial official has said.

Under the civil marriage scheme, the law allows expats, tourists and non-residents to marry in Abu Dhabi.

The new law governs family matters for expats or foreigners and offers tourists a chance to get civil marriage certificates.

The service is only provided by Abu Dhabi and is available exclusively in the region.

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