I forgot all about this gem I found one day a couple of months ago while Googling (I am not sure what I was looking for; perhaps I just punched in: spinsters+fate of=?) Badum-bump. The search turned up an inadvertently hysterical 2007 article in a Dubai tabloid called Xpress, titled Sad Spinsters: Lonely Hearts.
There is lots of typical stuff in there, and some not-so typical, considering this is the UAE: Maryam is 50, resigned to being a spinster; despite her success, she'd rather be married with kids than highly educated and single. Emirati men were marrying non-Emirati women because it's cheaper, apparently. Some women are glad they've ducked bad marriages and are just seeking a good one. A counsellor at Dubai Courts helpfully suggests women opt to become a second wife, acknowledging that comes with its own set of problems.
It was the sidebar that caught my eye though. I include it below for your reading enjoyment, drawing your specific attention to the comparison of an unmarried woman of a certain age to an old camel, the psychiatrist who says spinsters tend to suspicion and flatulence, and the cultural expert who calls us "dangerous".
THE EXPERTS' OPINIONS
The Islamic view
Ahmad Al Qubaisi, a leading Islamic scholar in Dubai, said: "The concept of spinster does not exist in Islam. The Arabic word aanes is used to refer to a female camel who has reached old age. Muslim women can get married at any time regardless of age. However, Islam encourages early marriage as a way to complete half of his/her religious duties."
Al Qubaisi said that getting married and having children is both a pleasure and a duty that completes one’s womanhood.
The doctor’s view
Dr Mohammad Wafeek Eid, a psychiatrist at Al Musa Medical Centre in Dubai, said most spinsters suffer from anxiety, depression and multiple psychosomatic complaints, including headaches, epigastric disturbances, abdominal gases and discomfort. "They tend to be suspicious and they make those around them uncomfortable. They are somehow viewed as abnormal because they do not go through motherhood – spinsters are the object of social pity. They feel they are unfulfilled, incomplete," he said.
The cultural view
Eman Abdullah, president of the International Women’s Cultural Forum in Dubai, said spinsterhood is a "dangerous" phenomenon.
It waters down the Arabic language, destroys local customs and traditions and creates an unstable and unhealthy family life, she said.
The forum recommends that the problem of spinsterhood be recognised and practical solutions found. It also encourages Emirati youngsters to be aware of the importance of getting married to their compatriots.
I was reminded of this article last night when a taxi driver named Saeed implored me to get married. "Ohhhhhhh my friend," he said, holding his head in his hands. "You married - good. No married - bad." He had 6 children and a wife of 13 years back in Afghanistan, and made me promise the next time I see him I will be married. Fine, I told him, I'll get married. As if my to-do list was not long enough.