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Abu Dhabi: The government needs to step up its efforts to encourage Emiratis to cut down on wedding costs, a member of the Federal National Council said.

Na’ama Al Sharhan, FNC member from Ras Al Khaimah, voiced his concern about how high wedding costs and dowries were leading to an increase in divorce cases in the UAE. The incredibly pricey weddings also caused Emirati men to resort to marrying foreigners, Al Sharhan told the House.

He put forward a question to Hessa Buhmaid, Minister of Community Development, about the measures taken to encourage citizens to save money and have pocket-friendly weddings.

Al Sharhan pointed to the high wedding costs and dowries as being the reason for more Emirati women opting for late marriages. Many young married couples, he said, do not have enough awareness about what marriage stands for and are opting for divorce when faced with financial difficulties or the need to adapt to a married life.

He put forward a motion to offer more incentives to would-be brides and grooms to encourage them to cut down on costs.

The Minister of Community Development said many initiatives, including mass weddings and awareness programmes, were launched to ease the financial pressure faced by young couples.

Members of the House expressed concern over the high divorce rates in UAE and urged the ministry to have awareness programmes for Emiratis about the importance of families and marriage, and counselling programmes for divorcees and their children.

According to the UAE Statistics Centre:

2016: 1,922 divorce cases; 5,982 marriages

2015: 1,813 divorce cases; 6,037 marriages

50% marriages did not last beyond 3 years

28% marriages did not make it past the first year

2016: 20,617 Emirati men married foreign women; 7,630 got divorced (37%)

8,516 Emirati women married non-Emirati men of which 2,284 marriages ended in divorce (27%)

107,764 marriages (29,574 ended in divorce i.e. 27 per cent)