INTRODUCTION: ARBITRATION IN THE UNITED ARAB
EMIRATES—HISTORY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
A. History and Current Legislation on Arbitration
1. Brief historical evolution of law relating to arbitration.
The United Arab Emirates (the “UAE”) is a federation of seven
Islamic Emirates, which was established in 1971. All of the Emirates,
with the exception of Dubai and Ras al Khaimah that have retained
their own courts, form part of the federal judicial system. The UAE
operates under a civil law system. The civil court system in the UAE
consists of three tiers:1
(a) Court of First Instance;
(b) Court of Appeal; and
(c) Court of Cassation.
The Court of Cassation is the highest court of appeal, where five
judges sit in final determination, and its decisions are final in all
matters of litigation.
The legal system in the UAE is founded in its Constitution. The
Constitution provides, in Article 6 that the “Shari’a is the main source
of legislation.” The Sharia is derived from two main sources, that is,
the Quran and the Sunnah.
The Islamic faith plays a central role in all aspects of life in the
Middle East including its legal system. It was on this basis, that
Sharia law was given a constitutional imperative and a central place
in the UAE’s legal system.
Arbitration is not regarded as inconsistent with Sharia Law and
it appears that arbitration in some form or another was used to
resolve disputes in the early days of the Middle East. The Quran
makes reference to arbitration at verse 4.35 where it states:
If you fear a breach between them (a man and his wife),