EMOTIONAL: The “Married Bachelors” of the Gulf Countries


by Biju Mathew

These men chose to work away from their families so that the latter can lead a decent life back home.

‘Married bachelors’ is a strange nomenclature. Who coined the term, no one seems to know, but there are thousands of ‘married bachelors’ in the UAE.

Who are these ‘married bachelors’? They are normal people staying away from their wife and children due to financial constraints or certain family commitments.

They are mainly found among low and middle income workers

You find them in all parts of the world, working and living far away from their homes and families. These men chose to work away from their families so that the latter can lead a decent life back home. ‘Married bachelors’ are in all strata of society, but mainly in the low and middle income brackets and rarely in the high-income groups.

Joy Thomas is one among them. Unlike what his name indicates, Joy Thomas is not a happy man anymore. This middle-income expatriate, who hails from the south Indian state of Kerala and works as a software developer for a private company in the UAE, has sent his wife and children back home recently. “Children are growing up, their needs are increasing, putting a strain on my finances. I had no other option but to resettle my family back home,” said Thomas, without elaborating much about the relocation.

Fortunately, Thomas can afford to lead a decent life and visit his family back home often. But that is not the case of millions of others worldwide. There are about 150 million migrant workers around the world, according to a United Nations study. While half of the migrant workers are concentrated in northern America and northern, southern and western Europe, the Arab states are not far behind with almost 36 per cent.

Lack of jobs in their home countries and the desire to lead a better life drive most of the migrant workers to far off lands. But that wasn’t the reason why Sanjay Jaiswal landed in the UAE. It was wanderlust that drove Jaiswal, who is from the north Indian state of Bihar, to the shores of UAE. Before finding a job in Dubai as a civil engineer and marrying a Filipina, Jaiswal worked in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Adventurer turned cautious migrant

“Those were the happy days. The adventurer in me is slowly becoming cautious and the desire to make more money and migrate to Australia forced me to send my wife and child to Philippines. I visit them as often as I can, but I am now living alone,” said Jaiswal with a tinge of sadness.

“Honestly, I don’t like being called ‘married bachelor’. It was a choice I made, though with some difficulty. To achieve something, you have to give up something. Well, I do miss my wife and kid very much, but the thought that it is only temporary keeps me going,” explained Jaiswal.

Jaiswal is educated and focused on his goals, but that’s not the case with thousands of migrant workers around the world and the UAE. Most ‘married bachelors’ in the UAE are living away from their families mainly due to financial constraints, family commitments and debt. There are hundreds of nationalities from around the world in the UAE, staying away from their families in the hope of creating a brighter future.

Endless tale of separation in bachelor pads

Among them, those in the low-income bracket suffer the most. Unlike Jaiswal and Thomas, they can’t afford to visit their families back home often. Life is an endless tale of separation in bachelor pads for these workers. They go on family visits back home in two years, sometimes more, a decision they made to save money.

Forced to relocate family

Alone, all alone, emptiness and longing creep in with the passing of time for most of these ‘married bachelors ‘. Until recently, Saju Varughese was a happy man. The small-time businessman with a fledgling family lived a happy life in a two-bedroom apartment in Sharjah.

Times do change rapidly and with expanding family and rising cost of living, Varughese, like many other expatriates in the UAE, was forced to relocate his family back to his home state Kerala, bringing in a touch of sadness to his daily life.

Silence and sadness

Silence descended on Varughese’s once-buzzing house. Cacophony of children and their constant demands faded. Sound of happiness paved way to emptiness and loneliness. “I was terrified during the recent killer floods that hit Kerala. I waited three days anxiously for some information about my family,” said the businessman, narrating the harrowing time his family went through during the devastating floods in Kerala that killed nearly 500 people and cost the state more than $2 billion in damages. Varughese is among the hundreds in the UAE who wept in silence during the floods in Kerala.

‘Married bachelors’ are not unique to the UAE, the term could be. However, at the end of the day, whether married or unmarried, what unites migrant workers moving out of developing countries is the desire ‘to make more money’.

Article first published on GulfNews.

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