06 May, 2006

Distorted Poll

Why would a UAE citizen marry a foreign wife? is the title of a new poll on the Arabic newspaper albayan.ae. I used Google Translator to translate from Arabic to English.

As you can see, the poll is distorted and skewed. What happened to marrying for love? or finding a good Muslim wife regarding of nationality! Lately, Albayan Newspaper has been covering this issue in depth and for the most part been biased.


Fahad Al Mahmood said...

What a question and what a list of answers to choose from! It is a shame to see such a question with such limited answers to be published by a well respected newspaper in the UAE.

It is a poll that needs to be ignored.

secretdubai said...

I think it's interesting, and possibly illuminating - though it seems pretty clear that the main reason for most UAE nationals is that it's cheaper to marry a non-national, because of the ludicrous overblown wedding culture that has arisen here among UAE society.

It's going to be just as hard to stamp out that culture as it is to stamp out dowries in India: despite being illegal, they appear to still be the norm outside the very educated classes. It has clearly become established that (a) an emirati women's social status is affected to no small degree by the lavishness of her wedding, and (b) that her social status (professional women apart, as their spheres extend beyond the domestic) is critically important for her.

The main problem I perceive with the poll is that it's badly constructed. Answers (2) and (3) are essentially the same reason. The demands of the girl's family are tradition here.

As for marrying for love: we all know that happens, but also that it's not officially "approved of" except by more progressive/liberal/enlightened people. The main reasons for marriage are still family-concern based: finding a socially suitable spouse, a finally secure spouse, and so on. Introduced marriages are still very much the accepted norm, with love (hopefully) to follow - which often enough it does.

So I can see why they didn't put that question: the poll is deliberately skewed. It's real intent is not to find out why X is marrying foreigner Y, but why he is not marrying local Z. Reading between the lines, the answer are:

1. Local women want too much money
2. Local women know their rights and impose them
3. Local women's families are greedy and demanding
4. Local women aren't attractive/"fair" enough

Obviously this last one is horrific, but we do live in a region where people spend thousands on bleaching their skin and extolling the importance of a "fair" complexion. In some regional socities (certainly India - possibly Arabia) it represents a higher "value" than a darker one. Therefore a pasty foreigner might be seen as a way to have "fairer" children. Which is a great and very sad shame for the many beautiful, darker women - and men - here.

adevents said...

. Local women aren't attractive/"fair" enough
SD i must say although all u said is true 99.9% but i disagree totaly with the last point u made i am sure many local and non-local agree with me that local women are much more attractive than most of the Non-national women as you call them, and No there is no such thinking to have "fairer" children. no and you can ask as many as local men to cheack this point

secretdubai said...

adevents: read what I wrote more carefully. I am not saying that is MY point of view at all.
What I am saying is the quiz seems to be asking this. The QUIZ is implying that this may be an issue why men take foreign wives (not that locals are less attractive, but that SOME men THINK they are).

Paler=attractive is not in my value scale. Because I grew up in the West, I tend to find darker/more tanned skins attractive looking because they are so hard to achieve for us pasty-faces! But in this region, there is a value on paler skins.

adevents said...

SD,Thanks for your clarification maybe I got u wrong here.
Furthermore, I don’t think there is a value on paler skins here; maybe it is a value for western in general for many other reasons.

secretdubai said...

adevents - yes, I was discussing it with Arab friends, and the paler-preference seems to be more a subcon/Levantine thing, much less a Gulf issue.

John B. Chilton said...

In the UAE the percentage of local women who are "spinsters" is astoundingly large. Spinsters is a quaint word that wasn't in my vocabulary until I came to the UAE; that is revealing.

Families appear to be willing to risk having their daughters become spinsters rather than accept a dowrie that the family view as beneath them.

At American University of Sharjah last night there was a showing of student films. One dwelt on the subject of arranged marriages and marriage for love. The AUS student body is about 20% Emirati and the films reflected the interests of students in general, not specifically issues related to Emirati society. Many of the films related to courtship, sexual expression, hormones, and other subjects (risky behaviors, loneliness, thoughts of suicide) that are universal to the experience of young adults regardless of culture or tradition. These are issues that all kids have to navigate and make choices about whether we talk openly about it or not. Fascinating.

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