Soaring Islamic wedding costs driving Emirati men to marry expat women

Published:  28 Mar at 6 PM
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Tagged: Canada, UAE
According to the UAE Federal National Council, the huge cost of Islamic weddings can be avoided by marrying expat women.

During a meeting between members of the National Council and Minister of Community Development Hessa Buhumaid, concerns were raised about the soaring costs of traditional Arab weddings, blaming the expensive celebrations for the emirates’ staggeringly high divorce rates. It was also suggested UAE men wanting to get married should find themselves a Western expat woman in order to keep down the cost of the nuptials. FNC member Naema al Sharhan said the huge financial burden of starting married life with a massive debt is causing couples to divorce as early as a month after the ceremony.

Al Sharhan is concerned that young Emirati couples have no real idea of what marriage is meant to be and what it stands for, adding that it’s too easy simply to opt for divorce in the face of financial difficulties or an inability to adapt to married life. Couples, she believes, also don’t understand the impact of divorce, with many parting company within a week of getting married. She pointed out that young Arab men are now seeking out foreign women to marry in order to avoid getting into debt, and the situation is also leading to a high number of late marriages between people who’ve accumulated enough wealth to be able to afford a sumptuous wedding.

The debate took place following the release of divorce statistics covering the years between 2006 and 2016. During the decade, 25 per cent of the total of 78,631 marriages between Emiratis ended in divorce, with marriages between Emirati men and expat brides totalling 20,617, of which 37 per cent also failed. Marriages between Emirati women and foreign men totalled 8,516 with 27 per cent also ending in divorce. Furthermore, divorce rates in 2016 actually increased by a further 32 per cent, indicating the problem is not only real but is also expanding to take in more couples.

The council’s conclusion was that irreconcilable differences as well as financial struggles are to blame for the vast majority of divorces, with the data showing marrying foreigners isn’t the answer to the inability to deal with debt following an expensive wedding. Also, the majority of reported divorces took place during the first year of married life, with officials urged to develop workshops and similar programmes raising awareness of the importance of marriage and family. Programmes helping divorcees and their children adjust to the situation were also recommended, as was counselling to help couples cope.
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