It seems in the United Arab Emirates, a women's worth is tied up in how many children she produces and whether she's married. What else could prompt a new policy aimed at "spinsterhood."
The United Arab Emirates is arguably the Middle East's main economic hub, accompanied by rapid futuristic infrastructural development and a booming tourism industry. It is also believed to be the most relatively liberal country in the Gulf.
However, when it comes to certain social issues, especially pertaining to women, it remains traditionally conservative.
Spinsterhood, for instance, is considered a "menace to the social stability in the country."
In fact, just in 2014, Ahmad al Amash, a member of the Federal National Council, the federal authority formed to represent the general Emirati people, said: "Spinsters cost the country expenses without bearing or producing any children. Marriage protects the woman and prevents her from falling astray on the wrong path.”
After delivering, what was clearly a sexist statement, al Amash offered a solution to the "problem": rewards for men.
He proposed housing allowances for men with more than one wife.
Nearly, four years later the proposal has been translated into an actual policy.
Khaleej Times reports the UAE Minister of Infrastructure Development, Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, made the decision to grant housing allowances for second wives, as with the first wives.
"The ministry should simplify the procedure for a man to marry a second woman, by providing him with housing opportunities, which will also solve the problem with spinsterhood," stated another FNC member, Hamad Al Rahoomi, in the wake of the latest move.
The inherent sexism of the new policy, which totally disregards the fact that a lot of women choose to remain unmarried for a number of reasons (education, career, etc.), went more or less ignored in the country's local publications, probably owing to the fact that polygamy is allowed per Emirati law.
What's worse, the demonization of unmarried women is not limited to the government. In 2014, a UAE psychologist developed a five-step program to instruct women how to accept being a second wife. She compared a second wife "to a first-born feeling left out when a new sibling is born," according to The National.