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Thu 4 Jun 2015 12:34 PM

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MP urges ban on non-Emirati mothers winning child custody

Ajman member says UAE laws should be changed to ensure children do not lose their national identity

MP urges ban on non-Emirati mothers winning child custody
(Getty Images)

A member of the Federal
National Council has angered foreign mothers of Emirati children after he said
they should not be granted custody after divorce.

Ahmed Al Shamsi, a member
from Ajman, told council on Tuesday that non-Emirati mothers should be banned
from taking custody as their children would “lose their national identity”.

Under current UAE laws,
mothers who are a different religion to their child are prevented from winning
custody of their children following a divorce. But Al Shamsi wants the law amended
so that the restriction also applies to non-national mothers.

According to a report in The
, Al Shamsi said he was concerned about an increasing number of foreign
women marrying Emirati men to claim state benefits and services available to Emirati

They file for divorce after a
while and the law grants them custody. The mother then takes her children back
home with her and they lose their national identity, Al Shamsi claimed.

“We want the local child to
associate with the country. They end up clueless about the UAE society and even
local food,” he was quoted as saying.

But his comments have sparked
outrage among non-Emirati mothers in the UAE, the National reported. One
Egyptian mother, who divorced from her Emirati husband shortly after the birth,
told the newspaper: “I raised these children on my own with no help or support
from my ex-husband. What if he had taken them? Would his current wife have
raised them better than I have, or maybe the maid?

“This is what us expats bring
to the UAE. We have raised Emiratis who are educated, cultured and today occupy
leadership positions.”

Meanwhile a Moroccan mother
said her Emirati ex-husband divorced her when their daughter was 16. The
daughter, who now works in the police force, reportedly said: “Is Mr Al Shamsi
suggesting that I have less loyalty or identity than an Emirati whose parents
are both Emirati?”

Her mother added: “We aren’t
vending machines but this is how we feel. Emirati men marry us, want us to
bring them children and now they want to take them away from us.

“Since when do Emirati men
raise children? The kids end up with broken Arabic and they know more about
their nanny’s language and country than about the UAE.”

However, the majority of
members agreed with Al Shamsi’s proposed changes on Tuesday, the newspaper