Emirati father combats costly dowries by only asking for coffee and dates

A much-shared post on social media told the tale of an Emirati father of six daughters who asked for only an Arabic coffee and dates as a dowry. (Shutterstock)

An Emirati father has allegedly asked grooms for just a cup of Arabic coffee and a date as a dowry, in a country where pre-marriage payments can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A much-shared post on social media told the tale of an Emirati father of six daughters who took the step in order to ease the financial burden on grooms.

According to the father, who lives in Al Ain, wedding costs in the UAE are too high, preventing many Emirati men from marrying – or pushing them towards marrying non-local women.

His claim is often repeated by commentators.

A decree by the late President Sheikh Zayed caps dowry amounts at a maximum of around $5,400, according to local daily The National, with a further $8,100 put aside in case of divorce.

Yet many families pay significantly more - sometimes up to $200,000 for the dowry alone - under private arrangements.

Runaway costs

Similar concerns are raised over the costs of lavish weddings.

A wedding industry professional told local paper Gulf News in 2012 that Emirati families spent an average of $82,000 on a wedding, compared to Western expats who spent $20,000.

The same year, the issue of low marriage rates was debated by the UAE’s consultative body, the Federal National Crisis, in a bid to solve what they saw as a looming demographic crisis.

The UAE government has taken steps to help less well-off Emirati couples wed with its Marriage Fund, which was established in 1991. Last year, the fund spent $40 million to assist 400 newlywed Emiratis.

The fund once reported that 87 percent of respondents blamed large dowries for low marriage rates among Emirati women.

The chief of the UAE’s Marriage Fund last year said that Emiratis marrying foreign nationals was an “alarming issue,” the Gulf Today reported.

“Implications of this phenomenon range from dilution of our UAE national identity to an increase in spinsters,” al-Bah added.

Less than two in ten people residing in the UAE are nationals.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47