From left: Noora Mohammad Al Kaabi, Minister for FNC Affairs, Najla Mohammad Al Awar and Sultan Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, during the FNC session in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The number of Emirati men marrying foreigners is on the rise since 2012 as 30 per cent of Emirati men tied the knot with foreigners in 2014 and 57 per cent of such mixed marriages were in Dubai, a member of the Federal National Council said on Wednesday.

Hamad Ahmad Al Rahoumi, a member of the House from Dubai, said the figures mean that “50 per cent of Emirati children will be born to foreign mothers in just 10 years”.

Al Rahoumi put a question to Najla Mohammad Al Awar, Minister of Community Development, concerning counselling of Emirati men about the importance of marrying Emirati women.

“The Marriage Fund and the Ministry of Community Development have to tackle this serious problem and find solutions. The figures of mixed marriages are appalling if the number of children born to foreign mothers is added to children born to unknown parents,” Al Rahoumi told the House.

Al Awar agreed the number of Emirati men marrying foreigners is on the rise, but said the figures of such marriages as registered in courts across the country was 13 per cent in 2015.

“I have received a different number from the Supreme Council for National Security, which put it at up to 20 per cent,” Al Awar said, admitting that the ministry has not yet discussed the roots of the problem or found solutions.

The minister added that the goals of the Marriage Fund have been relatively achieved through marriage grants, mass weddings and counselling. “But more should be done to get to the root of the problem.”

The Marriage Fund provides Emirati men with financial support for the formation of an Emirati family, thus encouraging the recipients to marry citizens.

Al Awar said the fund was key in aiding Emiratis by helping them build the most important foundation in the community — the family.

“The priority of the Ministry of Community Development and the Marriage Fund was to build a cohesive society which gains its strength from UAE family traditions,” the minister told the House.

Experts attributed the trend of mixed marriages to various factors including changing lifestyles, exposure to different nationalities through work or education and many of these men already coming from mixed families and marrying from within their families.

The minister said many educated Emirati men and women today get married by conviction.

Members of the FNC argued that the age of women also played an important factor, as women often felt pressured to get married as they grew older.

They said many of these women who pursue their aspirations end up getting older, not married, and when they cannot find an Emirati man, they feel they must resort to finding another foreigner to marry.

Members of the House agreed that the issue be discussed further in future, demanding that certain policies be made to address the problem.