x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Emiratis are marrying more expats

The number of Emiratis marrying expatriates has increased by 21 per cent between 2009 and 2011.

Fewer Emiratis in Dubai are marrying within their nationality, according to a report by the emirate's statistics centre.

Between 2009 and last year, a span during which the number of marriages rose 12 per cent overall, the number of Emiratis marrying Emiratis dropped 5 per cent. The number of Emiratis marrying expatriates, however, rose 21 per cent.

Rima Sabban, a professor of sociology at Zayed University, said the change was partly a result of globalisation.

"When nationals travel abroad to study, this is where the highest rate of intermarriage with non-Emiratis started happening. But now they don't have to travel - it is right in here," she said.

Roghy McCarthy, a marriage counsellor, also pointed to social change.

"In the past, some families, they were married within the family and it was a must," she said. "It was one of the duties, a duty towards the tribe. But now, people are becoming more individual. They take longer to finish their studies. They want to settle financially to be able to offer more."

Another reason for the decrease in marriages among Emiratis could be the high cost of a wedding and dowry, said MA, 29, an Emirati man from Abu Dhabi who divorced last year.

"The financial burden is carried by the man for years to come," he said.

The statistics did not distinguish between Emirati men marrying expatriates and Emirati women marrying expatriates.

Ms Sabban said she would be interested in seeing such data.

"Men have been marrying from outside the nationality a lot and this is not a new trend," she said.

Typically, women have faced more pressure to marry within their culture, she said.

"But now that pressure is getting minimised a little bit," Ms Sabban said. "Not that much, but there is more easing of that pressure, especially for [spouses from] countries of the surrounding region, or in the religious boundaries."