By Reem Abdallah (@Reem096)
Imagine sitting in a room filling a form on your likes and dislikes amongst other personal preferences. Then you get introduced to a woman whom you will marry that is compatible to what you filled earlier in that form. Well, it seems this can be possible nowadays as a new mail-order bride company introduced their services in the UAE. This news mind-boggled many people including me as this is very new to the UAE and it does not match our customs. Most of these women live in other countries, mostly Eastern European and get “couriered” to the UAE according to the customer’s orders.
Will women have a similar choice of getting mail-order groom service? It would be interesting for women to choose whom they want to marry by filling a form and reviewing everything about him before being introduced to him. Will this type of mail-order wedding work in societies such as the UAE? What happened to the traditional way of being introduced to a man/woman?
When I read the article about the mail-order bride, the owner of the company Mr. Wiener commented on the type of women he brings by saying “unspoilt by feminism”. As a woman, this comment shocked me. What is he referring to when he said the women he brings in are “unspoilt by feminism”? How are the other women in the world “spoilt” by it?
What is feminism? Is it when a woman fights for her rights and stands for her thoughts? Does feminism refer to education and working to earn an income? If that is so, then I’m a proud feminist. Living in year 2011, do men still want a Barbie doll? Pretty from the outside, empty from the inside? Or are they looking for a woman with a substance, who is educated and understands the value of work & money?
Who is the target market of this mail-order bride service? Are there any Emiratis interested in such services? What will we have next as services? As we are approaching the new century, many shocking services are being introduced and made available for us.
According to statistics the rate of Emirati men marrying foreigners has seen an overall increase of 20%. In 2010, a total of 30.7% of marriages where between Emiratis and Foreigners. The downside to this is that the rate of spinsterhood of women in the UAE has greatly increased. According to Jamal Obaid Al Bah, Chairman of the Arab Family Organisation,: “The UAE culture also did not do justice to Emirati women, where the case of an Emirati man marrying a foreign woman is reluctantly accepted. Emirati women are forbidden to marry foreign men. This injustice and the rise of Emirati men marrying foreign women have forced 30,000 Emirati women into spinsterhood” (source: GulfNews). In addition, the UAE also saw an increase in rate of divorce which peaked to 4,315 in 2009 from 3,855 in 2008 and 2,783 in 2007.
What is the correlation between the phenomenon of Emirati men marrying non-Emirati women and the increased rate of divorce? Does it have any underlying factors between the two valuables? Will the mail-order bride solution help in this? I’m certain it will help increase the marriage rate in the UAE but will not help in the spinsterhood factor.
It seems that many Emirati women are now open to marrying non- Emiratis with the permission of her family. Will the Emirati law allow Emirati women to marry a non-Emirati without the hassle of special permissions? Will the Emirati law allow the children of Emirati women married to foreigners obtain the Emirati citizenship? While marrying foreigners have many advantages, one of the main disadvantages is the language issue. As kids grow up in a mixed marriage home, the Arabic language is lost or is not perfected if the mother is not an Arab. Many kids from mixed marriages are not fluent in Arabic. However, there are always exceptions to this rule. Awareness seminars should be held to discuss the different pros & cons of both, marriages of Emiratis to Emiratis and marriages of Emirati to non-Emiratis. This will help manage expectations and reduce the rate of divorce.
This mail-order bride service adds to the global diversity that is witnessed in the UAE and other parts of the world. This diversity is influencing many of the UAE traditions and customs. Are we adapting to these customs and making them part of our daily lives or is it just a phase that will pass by. As an Emirati, I have witnessed that I have accepted many customs and traditions that are not part of my upbringing. Is this a curse of westernization or is it a blessing in disguise?
* Original Article: Mail-order bride business sets up shop in the Emirates
Reem aims through her quarterly column to explore issues in society and discuss emerging new trends. Listen to other people’s thought and view their perspectives about the subject. Then raise questions and form unbiased conclusions about it.