The Property Inheritance Laws: UAE and the West

There have been multiple cases all over the world, fighting over the ownership of the deceased’s belongings. Such cases arise when there’s no clear indication, like a will, that mentions who will inherit the belongings. For people living in foreign countries, it is essential to understand the legalities of the host country and their effect on your controlling assets, and finally hand it down o your loved ones.

The difference in the laws can actually affect how the belongings are divided amongst your people.

Non-Muslim expatriates:

Expatriates make up a major chunk of the population in UAE. With around 80% of the population being ex-pats, there are many people who invest in the country through property purchases and other assets. However, to survive in a country from which they do not originate, they need to understand cultural, legal, and other social differences.

The differences:

UAE follows sharia law while allowing some level of interpretation from Islamic scholars and judges. Western countries have a different culture compared to UAE, and the legal systems are different too. Islamic law is considered sacred. Western laws are based on the theoretical concept and democracy. UAE’s legal structure is highly dependent on religion and Islamic culture.

The inheritance law is a lot different in the west and the UAE. Inheritance in the west follows the wills of deceased persons. Compared to the inheritance law of Dubai, the focus is on distributing possession amongst the living relatives. They follow a strict method where the family members receive the deceased’s belongings based on their relationship with the deceased’s family, gender, and status in the family. Islamic traditions focus heavily on redistributing a dead individual’s belongings this way.

For an ex-pat, the laws of your home country do not apply in UAE. Even as a non-Muslim ex-pat, you will be following UAE’s sharia law on inheritance. Therefore, you must take the legalities in UAE seriously when it comes to your final will and testament if you want it to be distributed according to the laws of your home country.


The difference in laws, culture, and social structure of the UAE compared to the west is quite significant. When it comes to inheritance, consider consulting an inheritance lawyer in Dubai to sort out the legalities behind who will inherit the belongings. With UAE favouring the sharia law, it is essential that you understand all the legalities before you write a will.


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