Double lives in Dubai: Meantime partners
Dubai's unique job market turns the city into a fertile ground for infidelity
By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter, XPRESS
Published: 00:00 November 17, 2011
Unmarried couples living together in the UAE could face jail. But with no prying eyes to watch them over, many expatriates take delight in the anonymity which the UAE's gleaming skyscraper-studded landscape offers.
UAE sociologist Dr Rima Sabban said the "problematic" situation is one of the peculiarities of the Emirates - or any other country - where thousands of married expatriate workers are forced to live as bachelors.
"A lot of such extramarital relationships are happening underground. When you have a huge number of expatriate workers whose circumstances limit or deny them the possibility of a family reunion, you face a reality where a large number of married women and men are put together in a status of bachelors," said Dr Sabban, who has done field work on the UAE expatriate workforce for a United Nations study.
"It is the way the job marketplace is organised … If you look at the workplace statistics here, you see a huge number of low-paid workers whose status says they are married, but in reality they are as good as not, because they live alone and their families are left back home."
The numbers seem to confirm this trend: Nearly one in five men [19 per cent] in the UAE has been unfaithful to his partner while six per cent of the women owned up to infidelity, a 2010 YouGov Siraj survey showed.
Sex out of wedlock has been blamed for the alarming rise in baby-dumping cases. According to police reports, 154 newborns were abandoned in the UAE between 2004 and 2009. Six have been reported in 2011 so far (see below).
Because of expensive housing, many unrelated people are forced to share rooms or villas. In some cases such arrangements foster ‘meantime relationships'.