Abu Dhabi has therefore launched an initiative to raise awareness about the importance of seeking professional help at the first signs of conflict in marital life. Image Credit: Courtesy: Creative Commons

Abu Dhabi: More than half of all Emirati couples in Abu Dhabi — 62 per cent — face divorce within the first four years of marriage, according to research conducted by the Department of Community Development.

The emirate has therefore launched an initiative to raise awareness about the importance of seeking professional help at the first signs of conflict, with the aims of reducing divorce rates in the early stages of marriage. The 'tegahwa' initiative will use a digital platform, and has been launched by the Department of Community Development, in collaboration with the Family Development Foundation (FDF).

Key concerns

“The platform has been designed based on the results of research conducted by the DCD, which show that approximately 62 per cent of Emirati couples in Abu Dhabi face divorce during the first four years of marriage. Studies have shown that causes of divorce in the emirate include poor communication and conflict resolution skills, lack of quality time spent together, and a delay or reluctance in seeking marriage counselling,” said Dr Layla Al Hyas, executive director at the DCD’s social monitoring and innovation sector.

Dr Layla Al Hyas

“Tegahwa aims to provide support and guidance to couples who encounter issues in communicating, understanding and resolving conflicts, in addition to difficulties related to raising children, which may lead to differences of opinion between spouses,” she added.

Voicing concern

Concern about high divorce rates among Emirati couples had earlier been voiced by leading members of the community. According to the UAE Statistics Centre, 50 per cent of marriages between Emirati couples in the country do not make it past three years, and 28 per cent end in the first year.

The word ‘tegahwa’ is itself a traditional Emirati word that means discussing important matters, and addressing challenges between the two families of the spouses. The pilot phase of the platform will be run by family relations specialists from the private sector, including Takalam Online Counselling, Yas Island, and Maudsley Health, under the supervision of FDF.

Confidentiality guaranteed

Dr Al Hyas said Tegahwa will provide a comfortable environment with guaranteed confidentiality and privacy; it will also be tailored to couples’ needs. The easily accessible platform incorporates a set of innovative elements, such as personalised motivational text messages for couples based on their data, and a reward system that seeks to strengthen family bonds through offering suggestions for various recreational activities that couples and children can undertake together.

Dr Al Hyas said that evaluating the platform’s effectiveness based on approved and measurable indicators is one of the key objectives of the pilot phase that will support the expansion and sustainability of the project.

Tegahwa is a result of DCD’s ongoing research efforts, such as the Quality of Life (QOL) survey, now in its third edition, which help identify challenges facing the community and ensure the development of feasible solutions. The initiative contributes to achieving the Department’s vision of providing dignified life for every member of the community, in addition to enhancing family cohesion, improving societal well-being, and increasing the happiness Abu Dhabi residents.

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Resolve disputes

“This partnership with DCD to develop Tegahwa initiative aims to enhance and consolidate family cohesion and resolve disputes between spouses in the early stages of marriage, in addition to providing support and guidance for couples facing difficulties in communicating with each other,” said Wafaa Al Ali, director of the family guidance and consultations administration at FDF.

Wafaa Al Ali

“FDF is keen to provide psychological and social counselling and guidance to couples through Tegahwa platform, which takes proactive steps aimed primarily at protecting married life from complications that obstruct the stability and progress of families for the better, while maintaining complete privacy and confidentiality for applicants of the service,” she added.