The Minister of Infrastructure Development of the United Arab Emirates, Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, has announced at the Federal National Council session that his establishment has decided to provide men with housing grants for second wives. Earlier it had been discussed that second spouses should be provided with an attachment to the main house where the first wife resides. This however has been cast aside as unfair and “unreasonable” according to the Minister of Infrastructure Development, cited by the local outlet Khaleej Times.
The introduced measure is expected to drive up marriages to second spouses for those men who had their doubts on the matter because of high housing costs. The lack of second marriages, according to society, results in high numbers of unmarried women and a “weakening in social structure.”
The move has found support among FNC members. As one of them, Hamad Al Rahoomi, cited by the media, said "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 of spinsterhood."
This arrangement will be a part of the existing Sheikh Zayed Housing Program, which gives out loans and grants for Emirati families. Such allowances have already been provisioned for first wives.
While the current position of women in Arabic societies has been criticized by human right activists, the local authorities have made several steps to liberalize the situation over the past year. In 2017 Saudi Arabia granted women the right to drive as well as let them into sports arenas, and the UAE has boosted maternity leave for their public sector female employees.