New burial rules ease misery of mourners

Police clearance now not needed in some cases

A new rule covering the cremation and burial of dead bodies in Abu Dhabi will ease the paper work related to the cremation of dead bodies. This has resulted in residents of Sharjah, Ajman, Dubai and other Northern Emirates using a new state-of-the-art crematorium and burial facility at Al Foah in Al Ain that offers cremation services to non-Muslim expatriates.

A cremation facility provided by the Al Ain Municipality which does not charge for a cremation permit is attracting more UAE residents as cost-conscious relatives can save on the Dh1,000 charged for permits by other Municipalities.

Speaking to 'Emirates24|7', Don Fox, Chief Executive Officer of Al Foah Funeral Services, which manages the state of the art crematorium in Al Ain, said that up until recently a police clearance certificate was needed to bury any dead body including those resulting from natural causes, but a new rule implemented in the last couple of weeks will enable crematoriums and burial facilities to cremate and bury the dead resulting from natural causes with just a death certificate from the hospital and a no objection certificate from the concerned embassy or consulate in the UAE.

Don said: “We have started operations at the Al Al Foah Funeral Services facility from January 2012 and since then we have cremated a significant number of deceased, mostly  people who live outside Al Ain and who were residents of Sharjah, Ajman, Dubai and Abu Dhabi as the facility is easily accessible from all of the Emirates."

Don who had been working for 25 years at the Abu Dhabi Mortuary, has recently taken over the management of the Al Ain Municipality cremation facility at Al Foah.

Prior to the opening of the crematorium at Al Foah by Al Ain Municipality there was not a cremator in the UAE, and the general public only had the use of incinerators for their deceased which are not environmentally friendly and do not operate to acceptable international standards therefore a lot of paperwork including a police clearance was needed before cremating a dead body. Now if it is a natural death, a death certificate from the concerned hospital plus a no objection certificate from the concerned diplomatic missions will be enough to cremate a dead body.”

Don said the many people cremated so far at the Al Foah Crematorium include Shinto, Hindus, Christians, Budhists, etc.

“ The new rule will ease a lot of tension for expatriate families whose members die here.  However, repatriation of a dead body from a natural death will still need a police clearance,” Don said.

He added that “a number of still born babies of various nationalities had been cremated. Parents of still born babies normally have a tough time because it is futile trying to repatriate their body as still born babies do not have passports. Therefore we can cremate them and give their ashes to the parents to be repatriated to their homeland. Adults repatriating bodies
is very expensive and local burial or cremation is the most respectful way of handling the dead bodies.”

He also added that : “We follow the International standards stipulated by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management and that everybody is cremated in a coffin.” He said some operators in the UAE do not follow the international standards and they burn dead bodies without a coffin which is
not permitted under international standards compromising health and safety rules and also contravening security issues in relation to personal effects which may be cremated with the deceased.

The facility at Al Foah was created as a result of a directive by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and has been developed by the Al Ain Municipality.

Don said Al Foah Funeral Services, which manages the facility offers help to do the complex registration process, paperwork and the arrangements for the repatriation, cremation or local funeral following the death of a loved one, work colleague or friend. Al Foah Funeral Services is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) and the Institute of
Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM).

He said there is a working relationship with Westerleigh Group, the largest operator of crematoria in the UK, which audits our facilities to ensure the highest quality and compliance with international service standards. Through a partnership with Etihad Airways, it can also arrange worldwide repatriation of cremated and human remains.

“While most expatriates do not know what to do when a family member or a friend passes away in the UAE, we provide the necessary guidance in helping them through the difficult process. Our qualified and experienced staff members are dedicated to ensuring peace of mind to the bereaved through efficient and dignified handling of all procedures,” he said, adding that Al Foah Funeral Services has offices in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain and is easily accessible to all residents in the UAE.

The services offered include Burial, cremation, Repatriation (for Muslims & non-Muslims), processing required documentation and liaise with police, judiciary and mortuary officials and comprehensive funeral arranging like supplying a variety of coffins and urns, organise engraved memorial headstones, arrange transportation, flowers, music and other special requests and live video transmission of funeral services or recorded DVD.