Last month, one of my close friends in Dubai got engaged. She is 35, an accountant, and her fiancé is a doctor. I still remember how her mother used to worry about her not getting married, to the extent that she kept wondering what was going to happen to her daughter after she (the mother) dies! In Arab-Muslim society, being a ‘spinster’ is a real ‘problem,’ and often a crippling stigma.
A woman that reaches 30 years of age without getting married is considered a ‘spinster’, who contributes to a ‘demographic problem’. MMW writer Ethar wrote about this phenomenon in Egypt some years ago, while Tasnim wrote about 3ayza atgawez, a “spinster crisis comedy” also set in Egypt.
In the Gulf however, this phenomenon is linked to what is described as a demographic problem, especially in a country like the United Arab Emirates, which is home to about eight million people, only 950,000 of them are Emirati citizens.