190822 graveyard
For illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Pixabay

Sharjah: Expat families seeking to lay a family member to rest now have to arrange for burial in the emirate where the visa of the departed was issued.

According to the Ministry of Interior, all expatriate families, in the event of a death, should arrange for burial in the emirate where the visa of the deceased was issued.

Major General Saif Ziril Al Shamsi, commander-in-chief of Sharjah Police, told Gulf News, “The decision is aimed at streamlining the process of burials.

"As per the new rule, a dead person will be buried in the emirate where his /her visa was issued.”

Dubai-based social worker Naseer Vatanappally, who assists Indian expats with local funeral or repatriation of bodies of their loved ones, said, “One cannot bury a Dubai resident visa holder in Sharjah or vice versa.”

Visiting the graves

Mohammad Farhan, a 53-year-old Syrian, said his 75-year-old mother, who died due to a kidney problem, was buried in Abu Dhabi away from some other family members in Sharjah. Although she lived in in Sharjah, her visa had been issued in Abu Dhabi. “Many of my relatives are buried at the Sharjah graveyard,” said Farhan, whose family has lived in Sharjah for 40 years. “We go to Abu Dhabi and visit the graveyard of our mother now.”

Procedures to follow

In case of a death in the family, Vatanappally said, expat families should be aware of the procedures.

He said Muslim families can straightaway approach the police headquarters in the emirate where the visa of the deceased had been issued to seek approval for the burial. For the burial of a Muslim expat, the family needs to submit a death notification from the hospital, if the person died in the hospital, or the same from the forensic department of the police if the person died anywhere else.

However, in the case of Christian expats seeking to lay to rest a family member, he said churches require additional documents from the consulate to prove the family’s consent for local burial. “In case the family of the deceased is not living in the UAE, they need to send a power of attorney and no objection letter for allowing the burial in the UAE,” he explained.

Approval from the respective municipality headquarters is also required for burial of Christian expats.

Cases of cremation

This approval is also necessary for cremation of expats following other faiths such as Hinduism. The same is issued in the case of Muslim expats through the municipality office in the graveyard.

Vatanappally said the emirate that issued the resident visa of the deceased does not matter for cremating a resident who died in either Dubai or Sharjah. “The cremation of an expat who died here could be done in any of the emirate with the facilities of a crematorium,” he added.