Single muslims can now get married at a mosque in the UAE, and the news comes as a welcome addition to the country’s burgeoning Muslim population.
Dubai-based al-Masjid al-Futu, a large mosque near the Al Maktoum area of Abu Dhabi, said on its Facebook page that it will be hosting the ceremony for Muslim singles in May.
It said the ceremony will be free and open to all.
The ceremony will include the reception for all couples, including the bride and groom, and will be held in the mosque’s outdoor courtyard, the venue for most marriages in the country.
The event will also be attended by the bride’s family.
The Muslim Council of Dubai said in a statement on its website that it hopes to “ensure the health and safety of the community and its residents and its citizens”.
The council said the move is “not an infringement on the rights of the Islamic community”, but rather is “to encourage more marriages between Muslim and non-Muslim couples.”
A number of other mosques in the United Arab Emirates, including a nearby mosque in Abu Dhabi and the one in Riyadh, have already held Muslim weddings, but this is the first time a mosque has hosted a wedding.
The news comes after a survey last year by the United States Council on American-Islamic Relations found that just 13 percent of Muslim Americans and 29 percent of Arab Muslims said they were married.
The survey also found that about two-thirds of Arab-Americans surveyed had married in the last six months, compared with just 11 percent of Muslims in the U.S.
A survey of 7,400 people conducted in 2016 by the Pew Research Center found that nearly three-quarters of Arab Americans, and 62 percent of Arabs living in the Middle East, believed in Islamic law.
The United Arab Emirate was also ranked as the most religiously conservative Arab country in the world, according to the Pew report, with more than half of Arab countries ranking in the top 20 percent of countries in their religious diversity.
In June, Dubai announced that it had banned all non-Islamic activities in public places.
The ban, however, did not apply to Islamic schools, mosques or Islamic schools and schools that teach traditional Islamic subjects.