x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Crediting Emirati women a bonus

Emiratis have moved one step further in closing the gender gap. Yesterday, Dubai welcomed news that mortgages will now be extended to Emirati women married to those of other nationalities.

Emiratis have moved one step further in closing the gender gap. Yesterday, Dubai welcomed news that mortgages from the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Housing Establishment (MBRHE) will now be extended to Emirati women married to those of other nationalities.

"There are 10 of us in a small house, so it's difficult. We need help because some people like me cannot afford rent and live in cramped spaces," Nadia Al Falahi, an Emirati woman married to an Egyptian, said. She also added that she'd been waiting for this change since the start of her 20-year marriage. "We're living under so much pressure."

Nadia is not alone. A group that have often fallen underneath the radar, Emirati women who have married outside of their nationality have struggled to secure their livelihoods. They are unable to formally access state benefits for their children. And as children of non-Emirati husbands are not legally entitled to government support or citizenship, their needs are often not met.

Nadia's case can serve as a constructive lesson. Her meagre salary, combined with her husband's, was insufficient to make rental payments. A bank loan helped to tide them over, but in the end, her family of six was forced to move in with her parents.

The MBRHE's move to expand access to credit will hopefully alleviate societal pressures on such women and more particularly on their children. Many families struggle with overcrowded housing and live in less-than-ideal accommodations. Access to these funds will promote a more even standard of living across the Emirates for all of the country's children. Providing mortgage financing to a broader class of homeowners is a positive step towards meeting the needs that remain in the Emirati community.