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More Omanis are getting divorced — report

Economic and social issues as well as interference of relatives among the main reasons why couples seek divorce

Gulf News

Muscat: A total of 3,736 divorce cases were registered in Oman in 2016, compared to 3,619 cases recorded in 2015, with an average 10 divorce cases every day, official figures show.

Muscat topped other governorates with more than 926 cases in 2016, followed by North Batinah, 678, Dhofar, 580, South Batinah, 333, and South Sharqiyah, 305, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice.

The statistics show 3,570 divorce cases were registered in 2012, 3,553 in 2011, 3,550 in 2013 and 3,662 in 2014.

Khalid Al Harthi, a social researcher at one of Oman’s courts, told Gulf News earlier that economic and social issues, and interference of relatives, were among the main reasons why couples were seeking divorce.

Al Harthi said the interference of relatives in decision-making and dispute resolution between married couples made it more complicated to save some marriages.

“More awareness campaigns are needed to educate Omanis before they get married as the number of divorce cases is scary,” Al Harthi said.

Al Harthi said most of the divorce cases took place in the first months of marriage.

Mohammad Al Beloushi, a psychologist, believes infidelity, disparity in the education level between husband and wife, lack of care by both sides, lack of family commitment and arranged marriages were other reasons behind the increasing number of divorce cases in the country.

Even though Oman usually has the lowest divorce rate in the GCC region, authorities were worried about the increase in divorce cases and decided to take action.

The Ministry of Social Development launched marriage counselling services in 2014 to offer Omani couples advice on married life and to educate them about potential challenges. Since then, more than 8,000 couples have sought help and benefited from it.

Oman spends more than 14 million riyals annually on stipends for divorced women, according to the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Housing spends more than 200 million riyals every year to build houses for the divorcees who have children.

More than 16,000 children are affected by their parents’ divorce, according to figures in the past three years.

Meanwhile, the number of marriages registered in 2016 had fallen to 24,014, compared to 25,659 in 2015, a drop of 6.4 per cent, according to the Ministry of Justice.

The number of Omanis who got married in 2014 stood at 28,152.

Social experts attribute such drop in marriages to the expensive dowries and wedding parties as well as unemployment among Omani youth in 2016 due to the economic downturn.

The number of jobseekers stood at 43,858 by the end of December, according to statistics released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCIS). Most of them were aged between 25 and 29 years and were college graduates.

The average dowry in Oman amounts to 3,000 riyals (Dh28,626) but can reach up to 20,000 riyals for wealthier families.