Gulf Today, April 30th.
In a bid to encourage more UAE national men marry national women, the Marriage Fund's (MF) Chairman Jamal Al Buh announced that the funds would introduce substantial changes in it law, like allowing divorces, in exceptional cases and widowers get a second Dhs. 70,000 grant. The fund would give UAE national youth an additional Dhs. 20,000 to encourage them marry women who are over 30 years.
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Money always works. An increase in the marriage fund will undoubtedly encourage national men to tie the knot with UAE women. Any legislation that will ease the burden of a hefty dowry and a pompous wedding will receive a red carpet welcome. With the added incentive of Dhs. 20,000, the 30 and above women also stand a better chance of getting married.
At the same time the crux of the issue cannot be confined to just economic reasons. Other than monetary compulsions, why do national men opt to marry out of their community? The strict upbringing and social etiquette that discourage mixing of the sexes, weans men away to greener pastures. The alarming increase in the rate of UAE youngsters marrying European and Asian expatriates worry the social watchdogs. It will take time for the winds of change to sweep through the custom-bound society. But giving it a try is the best way to approach a problem.
Should the authorities loosen their hold a little? Should the UAE youth be given more choice in selecting their brides? An open door policy towards the GCC and Arab nationals will help preserve the Arab culture, if the hardcore puritans and parents can close their eyes to the minor differences in custom and ritual.
Is marriage only a ceremony, that two people may, on religious and legal grounds, be declared as man and wife by a contract? What is the actual objective of the marriage fund? To get people tie the knot? If this is so the the incentives may have some impact.
But if the fund hopes to create stable families, it might fail miserably. After all what chance does a marriage stand if it is entered into with
one eye (or both eyes) on the cheque. Secondly, how many local men are there who may find 70,000 Dhs. an amount, substantial enough to influence their choice of wife. After all it is just the price of a car!
And how is the standard of living to be maintained after the marriage? How will the Marriage Fund ensure that a man and a woman who marry with the fund will fall in love with each other, will not spend the rest of their lives looking for happiness outside marriage?
The grant will only succeed in making the holy bond of matrimony a mercenary game. It will make the already unstable institution of
marriage among U.A.E. locals still more unstable.
In a few years the fund may seem like a wasted expenditure. The only
solution to this problem is education and more education. Educate them about family values, discoure them from getting
carried away by the country's sudden material prosperity and teach them to be less grasping and less showy.