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Researchers concerned by findings of first study into UAE...

Lack of communication and interfering mothers-in-law are adding to the UAE's divorce rate, a new report has found.

In Ras Al Khaimah the divorce rate for the year studied was nearly 75 per cent, while rates in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were close to 20 per cent, the first in-depth analysis of divorce filings among Emiratis has revealed.

The figures - from 2009 - also showed that more than 40 per cent of divorces were filed within the first year of marriage and 39 per cent of divorced women in Umm Al Quwain were under 25 years old.

Lack of communication and interfering mothers-in-law are adding to the UAE's divorce rate, a new report has found

The report's authors said: "The rising divorce rate is alarming, concerning, it is detrimental to Gulf families, where strong family ties and a sense of tradition predominates.

"GCC families marriages tend to be arranged and cousins will be matched. Therefore, a divorce can reverberate across the tightly-knit extended family."

Some divorcees complained of "over-involvement" in marriages by other members of the groom's family, "especially mothers-in-law", and this was putting a strain on many new brides.

This problem may be due to society change not the individual - young brides are now more likely to see the marriage as a partnership between two people and are less likely to accept the groom's family having a major part in the marriage.

Women are also more likely to want their own home with their husband, rather than living with in-laws, the report found.

Fakir Al Gharaibeh, a sociology professor at Sharjah University, led the team that analysed hundreds of divorce papers at courts in all seven Emirates and interviewed four Emirati divorcees to find out why so many couples are divorcing.

This is the first time anyone has analysed UAE divorce figures.

In Umm Al Quwain more than 39 per cent of divorced women were between the ages of 20 and 25. Twenty-seven per cent of divorced women in Fujairah, and 17 per cent in Sharjah, were also under 25 years old. The researchers described early divorces as a "critical problem" that indicates that "young couples do not fully understand the seriousness and responsibility of marriage when they enter into it". Some couples were found to divorce after the marriage contract was signed but before the wedding party took place and before they had the chance to live together as husband and wife.

"This behaviour and subsequent divorce is especially damaging to the bride," the report found, as the stigma of divorce makes it more difficult for her to find a new husband.

It also found a lack of communication between couples and recommended greater government emphasis on communication skills and anger management classes for couples about to marry.

Senior officials from the UAE Marriage Fund, which helps newlywed UAE nationals, also spoke about subject at a family conference this summer and said the fund is increasingly providing such courses to help reduce divorces.

Marriage and Divorce in 2009

Abu Dhabi

Marriages: 5,911

Divorces: 1,179

Divorce Rate: 19.9 per cent

Dubai

Marriages: 3,657

Divorces: 727

Divorce Rate: 19.8 per cent

Sharjah

Marriages: 2,568

Divorces: 978

Divorce Rate: 38 per cent

RAK

Marriages : 1,221

Divorces : 907

Divorce Rate: 74.2 per cent

Marriages that ended within a year

Sharjah: 40.3 per cent

Fujairah: 44.8 per cent

Umm Al Quwain: 26 per cent

Percentage of Women Under 25 When They Divorced (Only RAK, Fujairah, Sharjah were analysed for age)

Ras Al Khaimah: 39 per cent

Fujairah: 27 per cent

Sharjah: 17 per cent

sean@7days.ae

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Date:Oct 7, 2012
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