Every month we bring you a unique slice of Emirati culture. Today, we discuss the government fund that encourages marriages between UAE nationals…
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is in the air – and marriage proposals are likely on many minds. But young Emirati couples have more reason than most to consider tying the knot.
Why? Well, couples who meet certain criteria are eligible for a payment of Dhs70,000 from the government to help cover the costs of their marriage.
Although many residents don’t know about it, the scheme isn’t new: called the Marriage Fund, it was created by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1992 in a bid to help preserve the local population at a time when increasing numbers of foreigners were coming into the country.
It aims to provide newlyweds with the financial support to “build and support coherent and stable families in the UAE”.
WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS?
First – and most important – both husband and wife must be UAE nationals.
The man has to be at least 21, while the woman has to be at least 18.
The man shouldn’t have been married before, although there are certain cases where this is okay – like if his first wife passed away, or was unable to have children.
Traditionally, the scheme was aimed at lower-income Emiratis, though this will soon change, making it more accessible to more people.
On Sunday, the UAE Cabinet approved a proposal to raise the salary cap of people permitted the grant from Dhs20,000 to Dhs25,000. The salary cap doesn’t always apply to people with disabilities and those proven to be looking after many family members.
WHY DO THEY HAVE THIS?
So many Emirati men are marrying foreign women that the UAE’s Federal National Council is worried about how national identity will be affected.
Last year, a special committee was formed to look into why mixed marriage was becoming so common, after it was found that more than a quarter of all Emirati marriages in 2014 were mixed, The National reported.
The fund is supposed to encourage marriage between UAE nationals, and there have even been calls to increase the amount to Dhs100,000, as more of an incentive.
Getting married is also an extremely expensive affair in the UAE. Emirati women can officially demand a maximum dowry of up to Dhs20,000, though families often set much higher amounts. The average cost of a UAE wedding has been reported to be in excess of Dhs300,000.
With all of the costs involved, there has been speculation that some Emirati men choose to marry foreign women in order to save money.
Since the inception of the Marriage Fund, there have been more than 61,844 recipients who have received more than Dhs4.3 billion, The National reported.