A: Wills of non-Muslim expatriates, which have been notarized by the Dubai Courts, are generally enforceable, except matters relating to real estate. Noteworthy, the stamp of the Dubai Courts on wills does not mean that the will is valid. It only means that the will has been registered, but its validity will be decided during probate.
According to the U.A.E. laws, inheritance for non-Muslim expats can be governed by the law of the country of the deceased, except real estate. Inheritance of real estate is subject to Sharia law. In particular, under the UAE Civil Procedures Law (Federal Law No. 11 of 1992, as amended), Article 17(1) and 17(5), “[h]eritage shall be governed by the law of the testator upon the death thereof…[p]rovided that the law of the United Arab Emirates [Sharia] prevails regarding the will issued by a foreigner about the real-estate [assets] thereof.”
Under a recent decree, an exception has been carved out for the DIFC Wills & Probate Registry (DIFC WPR). Wills registered with the DIFC WPR are explicitly allowed to include real estate assets. In fact, DIFC WPR was set up for this very purpose – to provide certainty for non-Muslims expatriates regarding inheritance of their real estate assets in Dubai.