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Emiratis marrying foreigners… it must be about money

Emiratis marrying foreigners… it must be about money

Recent stats reveal that Emirati men are increasingly likely to marry foreign women. “Social experts” say it is because it’s cheaper for the men.

August 9, 2010 3:53 by

The National reports this week that Emiratis are increasingly choosing to marry foreigners, according to statistics. Data from the Dubai Statistics Center apparently reveals that between 2007 and 2009 the number of marriages between Emiratis and foreigners rose 10 percent to 539, while the number of marriages between two Emiratis dipped 2 percent to 1,178. The figures are for Dubai.

According to the paper, “social experts” have attributed the trend to the large dowries demanded by Emirati women. Though the official limit for a dowry is AED 20,000, the paper says it can go as high as AED 800,000 in unofficial family agreements.

“A lot of people in the UAE complain that families of the Emirati woman demand a large amount of dowry and a wedding in an expensive hotel,” said Fawzya Taresh Rabee, the director of family development at the Ministry of Social Affairs. “So they end up opting for the foreigner.”

Marrying an expat is “believed to cost Emirati men a quarter of what they would spend on the dowry of an Emirati bride,” says the paper, though it gives no evidence. But Rabee pointed out to the paper (and the men reading it) that marrying an expat can come with “hidden” costs, such as traveling back and forth to the woman’s country of origin.

Kipp might buy the theory that men were marrying expats to save money, particularly in these difficult times, except for one thing: This trend has been ongoing since the 1980s. The article even admits as much. In other words, about the time the development of the UAE really took hold, and many more people came here to work from abroad, Emiratis began marrying more foreigners. Hands up who can spot the correlation? Surely this has more to do with demographic changes than bank balances?

And as for those “hidden” costs, we’re pretty sure that men are smart enough to see them coming. We’d go so far as to call them “very obvious and predictable costs,” so Kipp thinks you should save your breath.

Meanwhile, the resistance to all this has taken the shape of The Marriage Fund, which aims to encourage unions between nationals. “The strategic objectives of setting up the fund are to increase awareness of the composition of a healthy family and work to achieve stability in the community,” said Habiba Mohammed, the fund’s manager of guidance and family counselling. The fund can provide a grant to offset wedding costs, and it has also arranged affordable mass weddings to encourage Emirati intermarriage.

Kipp understands the motivations behind these efforts, but we can’t bring ourselves to agree with them. For us, the composition of a healthy family is most likely to come when you allow people to make their own choices, instead of pressuring them into one particular course.

What do you think? Are Emirati men marrying foreigners to save cash? And should The Marriage Fund be attempting to intervene?

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1 Comment

  1. OFiroz on September 5, 2010 9:08 am

    I am still puzzled why this dowry there at all!? According to Islam the groom has to give certain amount of money or gold to the bride as Mahar. And it is absolutely up to the guy’s financial status and stability. The bride or bride’s father can’t demand Mahar from Groom. And I know plenty of Emirati married man got second wives in other countries too, especially in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. So reason behind this inter country marriage cannot be solely on hefty dowry.


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