FNC members encourage Emiratis to marry locals

During a heated debate with the head of the Marriage Fund, a member demanded more be done to support nationals.
FNC member Ahmed Al Amash during the FNC session in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
FNC member Ahmed Al Amash during the FNC session in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // FNC members have called for a higher committee to encourage Emiratis to marry other Emiratis and to support them from the moment they begin to think about marriage.

During a heated debate with Dr Maitha Al Shamsi, Minister of State and head of the Marriage Fund, member Ahmed Al Amash (RAK) demanded that more be done to support nationals. He also attacked the fund for not following through on its legal mandate.

At the start of the discussion, Dr Al Shamsi detailed extensively efforts made by the fund, which offers financial grants of Dh70,000 to those who marry other locals and meet certain requirements.

She named 40 programmes and workshops aimed at young couples, students and parents to help guarantee the success of a marriage, and to encourage national men to marry national women.

After her response, Mr Al Amash said the minister had failed to answer his question on “how the ministry worked to achieve the country’s social policy”.

He said this would not be achieved without tight family bonds, adding that as people move away from extended families and towards nuclear families the problem worsens.

“UAE families used to be stronger,” he said. “Relationships inside the family were better.”

He criticised the fund for giving grants after a marriage licence had already been drawn up. He said the agency should play a bigger role when couples consider marriage, and through the engagement and nikkah itself.

“Encourage them to marry locals,” he said. “Help them face their marriage obstacles.”

The rise in older unmarried women and the rise in divorces, he said, was due to local men marrying expatriates. Last year, he said, 3,000 local men married non-locals.

Dr Al Shamsi reminded Mr Al Amash that what he was asking for in greater family intervention was not the fund’s responsibility.

She said the fund had no way of knowing which families were preparing for marriage and could not intervene before being approached. “The fund cannot enter the homes of every local to ensure they marry a local, that they do not divorce,” she said. “All societies live this. These are normal society issues.”

She said encouraging locals to marry each other is one of the reasons for the grant. “We can’t knock on the door and say, ‘I am the one in charge of this family’,” she said. “I would like to reassure the member that we work towards what the law says and even more. The member must be aware of the limits of the marriage fund.”

She added that UAE society was found to be the happiest in the world due to the freedom given by the Government.

A majority of FNC members voted to raise a recommendation to the Government to form a higher committee to encourage Emirati marriages and to provide further support to those planning to wed.

osalem@thenational.ae

Published: December 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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