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Study aims to discover why so many couples divorce

Plans to conduct the first national inquiry to determine how many Emirati couples were untying the knot - and why. as current rate may be as high as four in 10.

DUBAI // The propensity of UAE couples to divorce is to be the subject of a new study. The Ministry of Social Affairs said yesterday it planned to conduct the first national inquiry next year to determine how many Emirati couples were untying the knot - and why. "The study will outline the magnitude of the divorce problem within Emirati society, the reasons behind it, and will also recommend preventive measures and solutions to limit the trend," said Abdullah al Suwaidi, the ministry's director general, speaking at a meeting of representatives of the Government and marital courts from across the Emirates.

He said the results, expected by December 2010, would help government agencies formulate policies aimed at lowering the national divorce rate. There are no official statistics on it, but a number of bodies have released their own data. The Marriage Fund, which provides marriage grants and sponsors group weddings for nationals, has suggested that four out of 10 Emirati marriages are failing. \The Abu Dhabi-based Al Tawasel Centre for Training and Family believes the rate to be about 26 per cent.

A number of reasons have been given for the problem, ranging from the influx of foreign women into the country to the ease with which divorces are granted. The trend has added to anxiety in some quarters that the country may be in danger of losing its Emirati identity. Fawzia Taresh, the head of family development at the ministry, added at the meeting: "One of the reasons for these young couples divorcing is that the whole concept of marriage has changed and many seem not to understand that marriage comes with responsibilities." She said the country desperately needed a clearer picture of the issue.

"There is an increase of the rate of divorce in the UAE especially among young people. The divorce among new marriages makes up the highest number of the total divorce cases with many occurring within the first year of marriage." According to Al Tawasel, about 42 per cent of couples in their twenties seek a divorce. It also found that 37 per cent of divorces occur within the first six years of marriage.

To combat the trend, the ministry and a number of organisations have started holding classes to save crumbling or difficult marriages. Local colleges regularly hold lectures to teach students what to expect from marriage. Religious radio stations allocate several hours every week on how marriages can be saved. @Email:wissa@thenational.ae

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