Polygamy is more common among expatriates residing in northern emirates, compared to Emiratis and other emirates in the UAE, according to statistics issued by federal courts.
Last year, courts in Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah issued marriage certificates to 388 men, who already had more than one wife.
Out of the total, 275 - or about 70 per cent - were of various nationalities and 113 are Emiratis, records showed.
Omar Saeed, legal advisor for family affairs, said that the concept of multiple wives is a common cultural and religious practice in Arab and Muslim nations. "However, the choice of two wives is not easy and not for everyone, according to our Shariah law," he said.
"The person who decides to have more than one wife must be able to take care of everyone financially and emotionally. It's a huge responsibility and marrying for the wrong reasons can have serious consequences," said Saeed.
He added that Shariah allows Muslim men to have multiple wives only if they can fulfil their duties capably.
'It's hard for women'
However, many individuals of the current generation believe that because of the growing cost of living, polygamy might disappear.
Salam Al Kutbi, 26, a journalist from Al Dhaid, said today's women are not likely to accept the idea of sharing her partner with another woman. This is in addition to the higher expenses and difficulties in raising children.
In the past, the grandparents and great grandparents used to accept and welcome the practice, as long as the man pledges to treat his wives equally. Now, women are more vocal about their opposition to the practice, which they believe would affect the stability of the family.
Maha Hussein from Sharjah said that her father had two wives and spent more time with the youngest wife. "Women who accept to be the second wife support the practice and defend it initially. But they immediately object it when the third and fourth wives come in the way," she said.
Mohamed Al Shamsi, 24-year-old from Ajman, said that the religion gives rights to men to have more than one wife, but under the condition of equality between all wives. "But men of this generation would not be able to follow the religious teaching, as many of them entertain polygamy even if they wouldn't act upon it," he said, adding that he agrees with the point raised by women who wouldn't want to share their husbands.
What women think
Amal Khalifa, an expat who lives in Ajman, shared her experience: "I moved to the UAE with my husband 10 years ago. I worked hard to support my husband in bearing the cost of living, but he saved money and married a woman 10 years younger than me. The only reason is that he wanted a younger wife. He never implemented equality as Islam said, but instead, he spent most of his time in her house and just visited my children who were affected emotionally and psychologically."
Meera, Leila, Khalid and Yamen, women from various emirates, said that they believe polygamy rates are declining and it will die over time because men of the current and future generations don't have much interest in the practice, mainly due to the change in the mindset and lifestyle.'
This article has been adapted from its original source.
Copyright © 2021 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved.