The fertility rate in the UAE has rapidly dropped in the last few years that it is now the worst in the whole Arab World. All fingers are pointing towards UAE residents’ lifestyle habits.
According to statistics collected by The World Bank, UAE and Lebanon both share the lowest fertility rates in the Arab World.
The average person wouldn’t be surprised to hear that about Lebanon, a struggling country going through post-war recovery. But for a developed country like the UAE, these numbers might be shocking for some.
It doesn’t work that way though. Sometimes when a country is too developed, it has an inverse effect on fertility rates due to the lifestyle habits that residents develop. For example, the top 4 in the Arab World are Somalia, Mauritania, Sudan and Iraq.
Not only that, but the UAE is phenomenal, and in many ways, goes against nature, being a metropolitan city suddenly rising from the middle of the desert.
Let’s discuss some of the UAE specific lifestyle habits that are affecting fertility rates and how.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Although the UAE has a lot of sunlight, the sun is too intense for the residents to be comfortably exposed to it, therefore, ironically, 90% of the UAE population is suffering from Vitamin D deficiency (produced from sunlight exposure).
That’s because most residents, if not all, are doing their best to avoid any contact with the sun. This also leads to less physical activity as residents always use some sort of vehicle instead of walking or cycling.
You might ask, “But aren’t UAE residents desert dwellers that are used to it by now?”. Nope. 90% of the population are expats that have never experienced sun like this. The remaining 10%, the actual locals, are from a new generation that knows more about console games and butt-cooling car technology than dunes or camels.
High costs of living
UAE’s two main cities, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are two of the most expensive places to live in the world.
Money is an essential factor when considering having children. Having a child in the UAE could cripple your finances, and that’s why many residents feel they are just not ready for it.
Even thinking about having a child could be a scary thought (financially). Having a new family member means more money spent on school, transportation, food, and accommodation.
Once again, the fact that 90% of the population are expats, it’s natural for them to feel stressed being away from their countries and loved ones.
The UAE has a work-oriented culture, with a general disregard for personal life or holidays. Work environments are very competitive, and the workforce is volatile – expats spend as much time at work as they can to avoid getting fired or replaced.
Stress can also lead a person into consuming cigarettes, alcohol or drugs that contain chemicals or substances that have negative effects on fertility.
The UAE has some of the highest obesity rates in the world. That could be a result of stress, lack of physical activity, and a fast-food culture. It’s also due to the more luxurious/comfortable habits developed.
Many of the previously mentioned problems can lead to obesity which further affects the performance of the reproductive system in both men and women.
All the above issues can have compounding effects or are related to each other. The solution sounds simple, getting more sunlight, being more physically active, having a healthy diet, etc.
However, it’s not that easy. It is unlikely that a resident will solve these issues. Lifestyle habits are not an easy thing to change. Therefore, the most realistic solution would be fertility treatment.
There is no government medical support for expats (90% of the population) in regards to fertility. The UAE government found fertility treatments such as IVF (In vitro fertilization) to be the best solution, and they are sponsoring their local citizens to get these treatments for free.
Residents facing fertility problems should get checkups done at fertility centers such as the Al Ain Fertility Center – fertility clinic Dubai.