Expatriate women express outrage at FNC member’s custody call

Ahmed Al Shamsi said custody laws should be amended to ensure that children are not raised by expatriate mothers because they could lose their 'national identity'.

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ABU DHABI // Foreign mothers of Emirati children have criticised an FNC member who said they should not be given custody after a divorce.

Ahmed Al Shamsi, a member from Ajman, said on Tuesday that Emirati fathers should be given custody of children born to their foreign wives, or their sons and daughters could lose their national identity.

“We want the local child to associate with the country. They end up clueless about the UAE society and even local food,” Mr Al Shamsi said.

Egyptian A N, divorced from her Emirati husband soon after the birth of their fifth child, was aggrieved by the comments.

“I raised these children on my own with no help or support from my ex-husband,” she said. “What if he had taken them? Would his current wife have raised them better than I have, or maybe the maid?

“This is what us expats bring to the UAE. We have raised Emiratis who are educated, cultured and today occupy leadership positions.”

A N said that her children were now heads of major government agencies.

A Moroccan mother said she wondered why Emirati men married foreigners.

“We aren’t vending machines but this is how we feel,” she said. “Emirati men marry us, want us to bring them children and now they want to take them away from us.

“Since when do Emirati men raise children?” the Moroccan mother asked.

She said that too often maids were responsible for raising children.

“The kids end up with broken Arabic and they know more about their nanny’s language and country than about the UAE.

“My son is Emirati. That’s why I make an effort to teach him about the traditions of his country. Ultimately he will work and live here. This is his home.”

The Egyptian mother of “Abeer” and her brothers raised them after their Emirati father divorced her when Abeer was 16.

“Is Mr Al Shamsi suggesting that I have less loyalty or identity than an Emirati whose parents are both Emirati?” asked Abeer, who along with her siblings is in the police force.