Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 November 2019

Female FNC candidate champions polygamy as answer to 'spinsterhood'

Female candidate encourages Emirati men to marry more than one wife

An advert for Khawlah Al Ali, a Federal National Council candidate for Sharjah, who is calling for Emirati men to be encouraged to take more than one wife. Twitter
An advert for Khawlah Al Ali, a Federal National Council candidate for Sharjah, who is calling for Emirati men to be encouraged to take more than one wife. Twitter

A candidate in this year’s Federal National Council elections is calling for Emirati men to be encouraged to marry more than one wife as a solution to "spinsterhood" among UAE women.

The 495 final candidates, who are running for elections in October, began their campaigns on Sunday.

Banners featuring a picture of Khawlah Al Ali, 33, with her slogan “for a spinsterhood-free society, yes to polygamy” have gone up across Sharjah, the emirate she hopes to represent in the council.

Her slogan prompted mixed reviews online - with most of the positive comments appearing to come from men.

“You deserve the votes of all Sharjah men,” one man said on Twitter.

Since a teenager I have dreamt of helping bring couples together and thinking about how we can connect people

Khawlah Al Ali, FNC candidate

Another supported her call and mentioned a pair of unwed Emirati sisters in his neighbourhood as an example of the issue of spinsterhood.

Ms Al Ali, who is not married and who works for Sharjah Public Library, said the topic needed to be seriously considered.

She chose her slogan because she understood the benefits of men having second, third or fourth wives, not because she is unmarried.

“I have always believed we should look at polygamy more subjectively,” she told The National.

“Since I was a teenager I have dreamt of helping bring couples together and thinking about how we can connect people,” she said.

She said married friends would frequently approach her for advice.

“They would complain about marital problems, the solution to which could easily be allowing their husbands to take a second wife,” she said.

Ms Al Ali believed she was a voice for men and women, including widows looking for a father figure for their children, divorcees and unmarried women. If she was married and her husband showed interest in a second wife, she would help him to find one.

“I may satisfy his heart but not his mind, or the other way around, but he wanted another woman to fulfil his satisfaction, so why should I prevent that from happening?" she said.

“My slogan is not empty promises. It’s a belief and I will work hard for it.”

Polygamy has been on the agenda during the current FNC term. Last year, the council drafted a proposal for the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme to extend housing grants and loans to men who take second wives.

Hamad Al Rahoomi, who represents Dubai, suggested the money be granted specifically to men who take Emirati women as a second wives.

He said he hoped it would deter Emirati men from marrying foreigners by offering financial support for marrying Emirati women.

"If we are able to facilitate more Emirati men to marry Emirati women, this is a success,” he said at the time.

"I am not encouraging men to remarry. The point is to provide factors that will make a marriage between two nationals successful.”

Polygamy in the Emirates is widely believed to solve perceived problems such as spinsterhood and population decline.

It is often justified by the misconception that there is a gender imbalance where women outnumber men.

Updated: September 10, 2019 01:14 PM

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