Most of us from the West don’t have to make a choice between the two. We’re taught to go to school, get accepted and attend the best university possible, graduate and then get married. Your chances of marrying a guy who has a stable life increases if you do those things. In fact, education is the most important thing to most middle class families in America– it was for mine at least.
My parents did all that they could to send me to the best university that I got accepted into, and didn’t flinch when I told them that it was a 6 hour drive away from home. All they cared was that I was getting a good education.
Unfortunately, most of the parents in this region wouldn’t even consider their daughter leaving the house to live in a dorm while she attends university.
Today, during our weekly family lunch, my husband’s cousin asked me about my time at university. When I told her that I lived away from home ever since I was 18, which is totally normal to me, she explained that parents here will hardly ever let their daughters do that because the girls would be considered practically un-marriageable!
If a girl gets into an amazing university abroad, and her parents actually allow her to go out for her studies, she is much less likely to find a husband when she returns. The girls who complete their education while living at home have a much higher chance of getting married! She even told me that although some of my husbands cousins were accepted into universities abroad, the sole reason why their parents refused to allow them to attain those degrees was because they would not be able to get married as easily when their time came.
I see it. There are loads of 30+ year old Emirati women who are incredibly educated but still single, and according to culture, that’s such a taboo. Many of these women, although they may not openly admit it, are aching to get married. Unfortunately out here, no one from a wealthy background who has a good family name will approach a woman like that because of the stereotype– “We don’t know what she did while she was abroad.”
To the men of the Middle East who think like this: Please realize that first of all, you have probably done much worse than these girls have. Secondly, an educated woman is a gem. Don’t you want the woman who will raise your children to be strong, educated and empowering? Don’t you want a life partner with whom you can have intelligent conversations with? The UAE is moving forward at an unbelievable rate. Don’t hold it’s women back.