Consanguineous marriages in the United Arab Emirates

J Biosoc Sci. 1997 Oct;29(4):491-7. doi: 10.1017/s0021932097004914.


This study examines the frequency of consanguineous marriage and the coefficient of inbreeding in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The study was conducted in Al Ain and Dubai cities between October 1994 and March 1995. A sample of 2033 married UAE females aged 15 years and over participated. The degree of consanguinity between each female and her spouse, and the degree of consanguinity between their parents were recorded. The rate of consanguinity in the present generation was high (50.5%) with a coefficient of inbreeding of 0.0222. The commonest type of consanguineous marriage was between first cousins (26.2%). Double first cousin marriages were common (3.5%) compared to other populations. The consanguinity rate in the UAE has increased from 39% to 50.5% in one generation. The level of consanguinity was higher in Al Ain (54.2%) than in Dubai (40%).

PIP: This study determines the extent of consanguinity within marriage among an urban population in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Data were obtained during 1994-95 from interviews collected among a sample of 2200 married females over 15 years old from the cities of Al Ain and Dubai in the UAE. The sample was drawn with multistage sampling techniques from prenatal and gynecology clinics in Dubai and immunization centers in Al Ain. Marriages were grouped as: 1) double first cousin, 2) first cousin, 3) first cousin once removed, 4) second cousin, 5) less than first cousin, and 6) nonconsanguineous marriages. First cousin marriages were subgrouped as paternal and maternal types I and II (parallel cousins), and cross-cousin types III and IV. The median age of the sample was 25 years. 50.5% of the sample population had consanguineous marriages. The average coefficient of inbreeding (up to second cousin) was 0.0222. 26.2% of consanguineous marriages were first cousin marriages. 17% of total marriages were Type I, and 64.4% of first cousin marriages were Type I. 2.2% of all marriages were Type II, 3.2% were Type III, and 3.8% were Type IV. 3.5% were double first cousin marriages. 54.2% of marriages in Al Ain and 39.9% of marriages in Dubai were consanguineous. Al Ain had more double first cousin marriages (4.5% versus 0.56%). Dubai had more second cousin marriages (6.7% versus 1.6%). 28.2% were first cousin marriages in Al Ain, and 20.7% were first cousin marriages in Dubai. Type I was the most prevalent type of first cousin marriage in both cities, followed by Types IV, III, and II. The consanguinity rate was higher in the current generation than the parent generation (50.5% versus 39%), as was the coefficient of inbreeding (0.023 versus 0.0158). The increase in consanguinity was higher in Dubai. Consanguinity was higher in UAE than in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, but about the same as in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Consanguinity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / ethnology*
  • Marriage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Urban Population