Dubai: There has been a 20 per cent increase in Emirati men and women marrying people from outside the community.

Figures gathered by the Dubai Statistics Centre show that in 2011, there were 653 marriage contracts registered by Emiratis marrying non-Emiratis. This figure increased by 1 per cent to 661 in 2012, but jumped by 20 per cent to 790 last year.

Speaking in general terms, Dr Reema Sabban, Associate Professor of Sociology at Zayed University, told Gulf News that the spike cannot be attributed to one or two specific reasons.

“There are many factors that could lead to the increase in the number of marriages between Emiratis and non-Emiratis. However, such marriages have been increasing since the establishment of the federation [UAE]”

However, divorces in mixed marriages also increased 25.69 per cent between 2011 and 2013. The first three months this year saw 214 mixed marriages and 55 divorces registered.

From observation, Dr Reema said that the growing trend of mixed marriages could be an effect of globalisation. “Marrying outside your culture is more normal now than ever before because there are more children of mixed marriages, especially in a multicultural city like Dubai,” she explained.

With Dubai being home to residents from more than 50 nationalities, more Emiratis are bound to marrying people from other nationalities. “We have reached a situation where a new generation of children from mixed marriages is marrying again — and many of them will marry from outside their own mixed backgrounds,” Dr Reema said.

Another factor spurring mixed marriages is some Emirati men opting for a second marriage. “While we cannot generalise, we observe that some men are open to a second marriage when their first marriage is in trouble,” she said.