In the last decade, many Emiratis have opted to marry foreigners. The growing trend of Emirati men getting in marriages with foreign women has been described by the parliament as a threat to the national identity. The concerns are also bordered on the fears of divorce and what happens to the children in such a scenario. Another concern is the threat Emirati women are facing as spinsterhood duration is expanding. Therefore, this paper will attempt to explain if the fear of interracial marriages affection Emirati identity is real or just an exaggeration and provide recommendations to address each challenge.
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Interracial Marriage Problems and Solutions
Intermarriage and Emirati Gene Preservation
Over the years, as the expatriate community migrates into the UAE, many relationships with the locals, especially men, have led to interracial marriages. Specifically, the most preferred candidates for this arrangement are female expatriates from outside the UAE. In Dubai, it is becoming a normal thing to meet an interracial couple consisting of a male Emirati and a female foreigner. The fear is confirmed by the current statistics from the national government’s records on marriage registration. In the year 2014 alone, the records indicated that out of 7,401 new marriages registered, 2,159 consisted of Emirati citizens marrying foreign women (Dejani, 2018). The trend was highest in the region of Dubai.
In the year 2016, almost a third of all registered new marriages consisted of interracial couples. The trend has been discussed in the national parliament and a special committee consisting of ten legislators was formed to find a solution to this challenge. This problem needs solving because the government has proved that it is affecting the Emirati identity. The best solution is for the government to step up its campaigns aimed at discouraging interracial marriages in the UEA. The campaign can be laden with goodies such as marriage grants for those who opt to marry fellow Emiratis. Any objection to this solution will mean that the current trends of increasing interracial marriage will continue to spread in the UAE. This solution will encourage the Emirates to marry amongst themselves and result in the preservation of the national identity.
Emirati Spinsterhood Phenomenon and Intermarriage
According to the Federal National Council, the prevalence of interracial marriages in the UAE is threatening Emirati women, in terms of their ability to be married by a fellow Emirati man (El-Saj&Saraff, 2014). Although marriage is a matter of choice, the legislative assembly is concerned that interracial marriages have the potential of denying almost eight Emirati women the right marriage to a pure Emirati man. The special task committee has suggested that the increasing trend of spinsterhood among Emirati women of marriage age is worrying (Rahman, 2016). The concern is expounded by the fear of losing the pure Emirati gene through pollution by foreign genes. This goes against the Emirati identity, characterized by the preservation of true Emirati descent.
This problem needs a solution since it is affecting the women population, who are currently facing the risk of late or no marriage as Emirati men opt for foreign wives. The solution would be to intensify the government campaigns to encourage polygamy even in interracial marriages. The government has tried a series of intervention mechanisms to arrest the surge in interracial marriages and divorce. Through the legislative arm, the parliament passed a bill to give Emiratis who opt to marry fellow citizens a grant of Dhs70, 000. The grant is meant to motivate young men and women to marry one of their own as opposed to foreigners. Another solution would be the creation of a law requiring all Emirati men to marry at least one female citizen of Emirati descent. The best solution encouraging polygamous marriages because it will ensure that most Emirati women eventually end up getting married to the Emirati mean. Any objections to the proposed solution would mean that the Emirati women’s spinsterhood trend will continue to expand.
Intermarriage and Divorce
Another fear is the higher divorce rate in interracial marriages due to cultural and religious differences. Unlike a marriage between two Emirati descents, interracial marriages are characterized by cultural clashes, variations in social values, and differences in the gender roles within the marriage institution. This means that these variances might result in irreconcilable differences ending in divorce. In the Islamic faith, divorce is discouraged as is the case with the Emirati national family identity values. Although divorce might also occur in marriage between Emiratis, the current fear is that the rate of separation might be higher in interracial marriages due to wider differences in the cultural and social belief systems. Unlike the Emirati marriage arrangement that permits and encourages polygamy, interracial marriages are believed to be a threat to the ability of men in such arrangements to marry many women (Alharahsheh, Mohieddin, &Almeer, 2015). The limited potential of polygamy under interracial marriages translates into fewer children per couple.
Specifically, the trend of one or two children in interracial marriages is also threatening the general Emirati population growth. This problem needs a solution since it is affecting the basic social Emirati fabric of good family values. The solutions to this challenge include the enactment of stronger divorce laws to minimize instances of separation. The high divorce rates in interracial marriage are attributed to cultural and religious differences. The close community management of the marriage institution among Emirati couples is attributed to the less divorce rate. Another solution would be to create a social support system to guide such couples through marriage challenges. Since Emirati society is patriarchal, foreign experts who marry citizens of the United Arab Emirates must conform to this cultural system or face the challenge of societal discrimination. In contrast, pure Emirati marriages are controlled, organized, and foreseen by strict cultural norms, which define the roles of a husband and a wife. The best solution is the creation of a social support system since it will enable couples to address their marriage challenges without having to divorce. If this suggestion is objected to, it means that the current worrying divorce trends will continue to expand and leave more Emirati men and women unmarried.
Intermarriage and Emirati Children Identity Crisis
The government is concerned about the welfare of children of an interracial couple facing a divorce. According to the Federal National Council, children of separated interracial couples are more affected by divorce than children of a pure Emirati marriage (Dejani, 2018). This is due to the fact that the children are exposed to two or more clashing cultures that do not define a single identity. For instance, a child in a marriage between a male Emirati and African woman expatriate might find it difficult to associate with age mates of pure Emirati descent (Lee, 2013). The discrimination and bullying by fellow children might be worse when the skin color and accent are not the same. This problem needs a solution because it has a direct impact on the junior citizens who have broken homes.
The suggestion to solve this problem includes the creation of a strong family support system with attractive grants for relatively willing to take up such children. Another solution would be to enact strict laws on parenting to protect the welfare of the children, such as mandatory parental support, co-parenting, and faith-based upbringing of the Emirati children (El-Saj&Saraff, 2014). The best solution is an enactment of strict parenting laws to minimize instances of deadbeat parents, abuse, and neglect of children. This solution will go a long way in protecting the basic rights of children living in failed interracial marriages. Any objection to this recommendation would mean that children in failed interracial marriages will continue to face discrimination, cultural clash, and unknown identity crisis. It is in order to state that the conservative marriage approach in the UAE is changing, especially in Dubai as more Emiratis embrace the world. Apparently, the findings seem to suggest that the government might be losing the battle in trying to maintain the conservative pure Emirati marriage, especially among the young people. Higher trends in interracial marriages would eventually result in increased divorce rates and impact on the children.
Intermarriage and Government Intervention Conflicts
Although the government representatives’ opposition to interracial marriage might have a point in trying to preserve the Emirati identity, there is a need for comprehensive research on the views of the general population towards such efforts. Specifically, the government could contract a reputable organization to carry out further research since the current grounds for opposing interracial marriage are based on fear than actual facts. According to the Federal National Council, the growing trend has a direct impact on the Emirati identity, which is characterized by purity in the Emirati genes (Dejani, 2018).
The rising intermarriage trends as captured in statistical data and government actions necessitate the need to address the challenge of interracial marriages as a threat to national identity. Apparently, the findings of this study confirm that interracial marriages come with many challenges such as increased spinsterhood trends among Emirati women, higher divorce rates, and child neglect or identity crisis. Therefore, the government should carry out research to establish scientific-based solutions. This is ideal in controlling the current fears within different ranks of the central and regional governments. However, in the event that the government opts for implementation of the suggestions before scientific confirmation, they might not succeed in reverse the trends as young people continue to interact with other races and form relationships that lead to marriage.
The study has confirmed that the fears of the government are real since there is a steady rise in the percentage of interracial marriages. Therefore, I would propose that a further study should be carried out through primary research to give scientific evidence for present and future adjustments to balance intermarriage and variables such as Emirati identity, divorce, children welfare, and spinsterhood challenges. This will be ideal in addressing the motivating factors in entering interracial marriages and the best response that would preserve the current Emirati identity fabric (Lee, 2013). The government should borrow from success stories in Qatar, where interracial marriages have been successfully integrated without interfering with the identity fabric. This solution is the best because it would ensure that the government’s intervention strategies are informed by scientific evidence as opposed to fear of the unknown.
Alharahsheh, S., Mohieddin, M., &Almeer, F. (2015).Marrying out: Trends and patterns of mixed marriage among Qataris.International Journal of Social Science Studies, 3(6), 221-227.
Alothman, H. (2013). Emirati youth attitudes toward marriage to non-local: A qualitative and quantitative study. Journal of Kind Saud Riyath, 25(1), 1-26.
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Dejani, H. (2018). FNC form committee to investigate rise in mixed Emirati marriages. Web.
El-Saj, H., &Saraff, C. (2014).Western media influence of Emiratis women’s national identity. Journal of Educational & Social Research, 4(4), 92-99.
Lee, R. (2013). Modernity, modernities, and modernization: Tradition reappraised. Social Science Information, 52(3),409-424.
Rahman, F. (2016).The women’s majlis: Mixed marriage stirs up debate. Web.