Does the family law of UAE and Qatar apply to people who transit the airport, or who stay for not more than 1 day and enter the country for that purpose?

Especially laws about child custody.

UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi) and Qatar have quite big international flight hubs. The family law in these countries is quite different. As far as I'm informed, women have the sole right and responsibility to care for a child there. And men have the right to determine where the child is supposed to live. For that reason men can also impose a flight ban on a child.

Does all this apply to those who transit through the airport or other short term visitors?

For example:

Assume a mother lives with the child in Poland. She has sole custody and parental responsibility (but only in Poland). She flies to the Maldives for holiday with the child. She transits through Dubai.

Assume the father lives in Spain. Can the father issue a "flight ban" in the Dubai airport for the child? Can he prevent the child from transiting? Can he make the child to be held in UAE and to be disallowed to leave UAE until the child comes of age? Can he pick-up the child or otherwise arrange for the child to be transferred to Spain, because in the UAE he has the right to decide where the child shall live?

  • 1
    Are either parent Muslim? A brief scan of this almeezan.qa/LawView.aspx?opt&LawID=2558&language=en reveals: This law shall apply to those subjected to the Hanbali School of Thought [ie Sunni]. Those subjected to other schools of thoughts and/or non Muslim jurisprudence shall be subjected to provisions of their respective Schools of Thought and/or non Muslim jurisprudence.
    – Rick
    Apr 19, 2021 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


UAE law applies to everyone in the UAE, even for just an hour. The transit zone is still in UAE. You are still subject to UAE law even if you stay on the plane for a very short refueling stop.

A parent cannot issue a flight ban, though a parent could request a government to take an action that has such an effect. Person Status Law 28 of UAE would allow some paternal interference. The English translation of the law is a bit obscure hence the law as translated refers to "tutors" and "fostering". This analysis of UAE law refers to concept in article 142 حضانة (hadana) which is conventionally translated as "custody", but in the translated law article 142 says "Fostering is to safekeeping the child, educate and ward him in a manner that does not contradict the tutor’s right of tutelage over the person of the child" – hence "fostering" is "custody"; then the legal-analysis page refers to ولاية (wilaya – governance, guardianship) in article 148 which is about "tutor". Again, the analysis article says that the mother is usually deemed the "custodian" and the father the "guardian", unless the mother is an unfit custodian in which case the father become custodian. This digression is necessary because of the problem in interpreting what the law actually says.

Now we come to the core law, article 149:

The fosterer may not travel with the fostered child outside the State except with the written approval of his tutor. Should the tutor refuse to give his consent, the matter shall be submitted to the judge.

That is, the mother needs written consent from the father.

Kidnapping is a criminal offense in UAE under article 344. According to the analysis article,

if the applicant can satisfy a civil court summary judge there is a real fear of abduction by the respondent, the judge will order a child travel ban. They are usually issued to the applicant on the same day, due to their urgency. Travel ban proceedings are ex-parte proceedings. The proceedings are taken before the summary court by the applicant and no service of summons is required. The courts notify the other parent when the travel ban is imposed.

This provides the legal path for a father to petition the courts for a travel ban. Given all of that, a father could theoretically petition a civil court summary judge that there is a real fear of abduction, in which case airport police might take the child. The main remaining question is whether the father (who I assume is not a UAE citizen or present in UAE) has standing to petition a civil court summary judge (I don't know).

In a case somewhat similar to the hypothetical analyzed here, a travel ban was issued (the father was in Oman, the mother had moved to UAE); then a higher court revoked the ban and the order that the child's documents be handed over to the father, on the grounds that art. 149 and 157 does not grant an unconditional right of the father to veto travel. The court also clarified that the law is designed to protect the rights of a father exercising guardianship duties – in that case, the father lived in another country from the child so was not exercising guardianship duties. This is parallel to the hypothetical case. The Appeal Court upheld that finding.

The summary is that it is possible that there could be troubles in the transit zone, but the UAE courts would not uphold a travel ban.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .