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Thu 21 Apr 2016 01:05 PM

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Committee formed to investigate Emirati-expat marriages

More than a quarter of all marriages in the UAE in 2014 were mixed, FNC told

Committee formed to investigate Emirati-expat marriages
(Getty Images)

A special taskforce has been established to investigate the increasing number of marriages between Emiratis and expats.  

The UAE Federal National Council (FNC) has set up a 10-person committee to discuss the reasons for such an increase and the likely impact on Emirati society, according to local media reports.

Council members were told at an FNC session in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday that more than a quarter of all Emirati marriages in 2014 were mixed.

Dubai member Hamad Al Rohoomi presented statistics showing that of the 7,401 marriages across the country that year, 2,159 involved Emirati nationals marrying expats. 

After sharing the figures with social development minister Najla Al Awar, 10 FNC members were asked to form a committee to investigate the trend further.

“[It] affects the national identity,” Al Rohoomi was quoted as saying. “If Emirati men marry expats, who will the Emirati women get married to?”

He reportedly added that he was concerned about the impact on children of different cultures and traditions in mixed marriages.

“The idea of Emirati men marrying foreign women involves a difference in religion, language, cultures and traditions making it a big concern especially for the offspring.

“Unless we tackle the problem now, I am afraid the Emirati culture may phase out among young children in the future. Many children born in mixed marriages cannot even speak Arabic language well.”

And he noted that the UAE’s Marriage Fund currently only hands out grants to Emirati couples marrying, and that the terms of the fund should be reviewed to address changing societal trends. 

According to The National, Al Awar told the FNC that data on the issue was often inconsistent.

“Until now, I cannot put my hand on real percentages and this is a weakness. So we have different ratios, but whether these cases are increasing or decreasing, I would presume they are increasing. If we know the reasons, we will be able to do family guidance,” she said.

The council also passed a draft law to establish reconciliation centres at civil courts to help resolve marital disputes before they reach trial. Ras Al Khaimah member Mohammed Al Mehrezi reportedly told the council a study should be conducted on “resolving spinsterhood and encouraging polygamy”.