More and more marriages in the Gulf are failing.  iStock
More and more marriages in the Gulf are failing. iStock

In the Gulf, marriage falters while divorce prospers



The UAE is experiencing marriage problems, as are our Gulf neighbours. Reports from across the region suggest rising rates of spinsterhood, known as anousa in Arabic. They also speak of high divorce rates, and the popular reintroduction and abuse of lesser-known forms of marriage, such as, zawaaj al-misyar (the traveller’s marriage). But what is the true extent of these problems? How widespread are they? And what can or should be done?

One problem with the alarmist reports of mass spinsterhood, is that they seldom provide an adequate definition of the term. Exactly how old do you have to be to qualify for this pejorative label? Similarly, these reports don’t say too much about the methods used to compile the numbers. In the absence of any talk about methodology, I suspect the numbers are wildly speculative.

One source reported data suggesting that a quarter of all Qatari women will remain unmarried. In the UAE and Saudi Arabia too, equally high figures are bandied around: 1.5 million Saudi women and 175,000 Emiratis will remain spinsters.

Today though, even if you get married, staying married also seems difficult. A report in 2014 to the Federal National Council suggested that the divorce rate for 2013 surged to 70 per cent. Similarly, data published by Qatar’s Permanent Population Committee in 2009, suggested that around 70 per cent of Qatari marriages end in divorce too.

More disconcerting still – when you crunch the divorce rate numbers and look only at those between the ages of 20 and 29 – then the divorce rate shoots up even further. Among these younger couples the data also suggest a worrying trend for divorcing fairly soon after marriage, typically within the first year. Unlike the speculation concerning spinsterhood, the divorce data is fairly reliable. Furthermore, the data looking at Gulf divorce trends across time confirm a clear upwards trajectory, in other words: things haven’t always been this bad.

But what can be done? There have already been many initiatives aimed at promoting marriages and reversing these troubling trends. Obvious examples include marriage grants, group weddings, dowry-caps and even divorce penalties. One initiative, particularly, but not exclusively, associated with Saudi Arabia, was the re-popularisation of zawaaj al-misyar, often translated as the traveller’s or visitor’s marriage.

Historically, this morally contested practice was associated with the region’s merchants; traders who needed to travel extensively and perhaps couldn’t afford to maintain wives at different locations on their long routes. The misyar marriage is founded on the understanding that, beyond providing the initial mahr (bride gift), the husband has no financial obligations towards his misyar wife. He needn’t provide accommodation, living allowance or alimony, and he can choose not to cohabit. Misyar brides will often remain in the parental home, with peripatetic husbands visiting at will.

Critics of the practice have viewed it as a kind of legally sanctioned prostitution.

Others object on the ground that it gives men all the rights, but none of the responsibilities of marriage. Some have even suggested that the availability of misyar gives rise to twisted attitudes towards marriage, characterised by the old saying: why buy the book, when you can go to the library instead.

In recent years there has been a proliferation of websites offering misyar brokerage services, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Some feel this has led to an increase in misyar marriages, along with widespread abuse of the practice. Once proposed as a solution, misyar has, for some, become an opportunity for exploitation, further undermining conventional marriage.

I’m not sure what the solution is for the Gulf’s marriage problems, or if these are even issues that can be solved. However, great care is needed to ensure that our remedial initiatives don’t actually exacerbate the situation or introduce new problems. Sometimes, the imagined panacea only worsens the plague.

Dr Justin Thomas is an associate professor of psychology at Zayed University

On Twitter: @DrJustinThomas

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

Keep it fun and engaging

Stuart Ritchie, director of wealth advice at AES International, says children cannot learn something overnight, so it helps to have a fun routine that keeps them engaged and interested.

“I explain to my daughter that the money I draw from an ATM or the money on my bank card doesn’t just magically appear – it’s money I have earned from my job. I show her how this works by giving her little chores around the house so she can earn pocket money,” says Mr Ritchie.

His daughter is allowed to spend half of her pocket money, while the other half goes into a bank account. When this money hits a certain milestone, Mr Ritchie rewards his daughter with a small lump sum.

He also recommends books that teach the importance of money management for children, such as The Squirrel Manifesto by Ric Edelman and Jean Edelman.

Where to submit a sample

Volunteers of all ages can submit DNA samples at centres across Abu Dhabi, including: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre+(Adnec), Biogenix Labs in Masdar City, NMC Royal Hospital in Khalifa City, NMC Royal Medical Centre, Abu Dhabi, NMC Royal Women's Hospital, Bareen International Hospital, Al Towayya in Al Ain, NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain

Dates for the diary

To mark Bodytree’s 10th anniversary, the coming season will be filled with celebratory activities:

  • September 21 Anyone interested in becoming a certified yoga instructor can sign up for a 250-hour course in Yoga Teacher Training with Jacquelene Sadek. It begins on September 21 and will take place over the course of six weekends.
  • October 18 to 21 International yoga instructor, Yogi Nora, will be visiting Bodytree and offering classes.
  • October 26 to November 4 International pilates instructor Courtney Miller will be on hand at the studio, offering classes.
  • November 9 Bodytree is hosting a party to celebrate turning 10, and everyone is invited. Expect a day full of free classes on the grounds of the studio.
  • December 11 Yogeswari, an advanced certified Jivamukti teacher, will be visiting the studio.
  • February 2, 2018 Bodytree will host its 4th annual yoga market.

The British in India: Three Centuries of Ambition and Experience

by David Gilmour

Allen Lane

SHAITTAN

Director: Vikas Bahl
Starring: Ajay Devgn, R. Madhavan, Jyothika, Janaki Bodiwala
Rating: 3/5

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Other simple ideas for sushi rice dishes

Cheat’s nigiri 
This is easier to make than sushi rolls. With damp hands, form the cooled rice into small tablet shapes. Place slices of fresh, raw salmon, mackerel or trout (or smoked salmon) lightly touched with wasabi, then press, wasabi side-down, onto the rice. Serve with soy sauce and pickled ginger.

Easy omurice
This fusion dish combines Asian fried rice with a western omelette. To make, fry cooked and cooled sushi rice with chopped vegetables such as carrot and onion and lashings of sweet-tangy ketchup, then wrap in a soft egg omelette.

Deconstructed sushi salad platter 
This makes a great, fuss-free sharing meal. Arrange sushi rice on a platter or board, then fill the space with all your favourite sushi ingredients (edamame beans, cooked prawns or tuna, tempura veggies, pickled ginger and chilli tofu), with a dressing or dipping sauce on the side.

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Could We Be More

Artist: Kokoroko
Label: Brownswood Recordings
Rating: 3.5/5

The Woman King

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Stars: Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Sheila Atim, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega 

Rating: 3/5

'Top Gun: Maverick'

Rating: 4/5

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

Starring: Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Miles Teller, Glen Powell, Ed Harris

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

The specs: 2024 Mercedes E200

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cyl turbo + mild hybrid
Power: 204hp at 5,800rpm +23hp hybrid boost
Torque: 320Nm at 1,800rpm +205Nm hybrid boost
Transmission: 9-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 7.3L/100km
On sale: November/December
Price: From Dh205,000 (estimate)

Monster

Directed by: Anthony Mandler

Starring: Kelvin Harrison Jr., John David Washington 

3/5

 

Sui Dhaaga: Made in India

Director: Sharat Katariya

Starring: Varun Dhawan, Anushka Sharma, Raghubir Yadav

3.5/5

How it works

Each player begins with one of the great empires of history, from Julius Caesar's Rome to Ramses of Egypt, spread over Europe and the Middle East.

Round by round, the player expands their empire. The more land they have, the more money they can take from their coffers for each go.

As unruled land and soldiers are acquired, players must feed them. When a player comes up against land held by another army, they can choose to battle for supremacy.

A dice-based battle system is used and players can get the edge on their enemy with by deploying a renowned hero on the battlefield.

Players that lose battles and land will find their coffers dwindle and troops go hungry. The end goal? Global domination of course.

The specs: Macan Turbo

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors
Power: 639hp
Torque: 1,130Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Touring range: 591km
Price: From Dh412,500
On sale: Deliveries start in October

Mobile phone packages comparison

 

 

if you go

The flights

Air Astana flies direct from Dubai to Almaty from Dh2,440 per person return, and to Astana (via Almaty) from Dh2,930 return, both including taxes.

The hotels

Rooms at the Ritz-Carlton Almaty cost from Dh1,944 per night including taxes; and in Astana the new Ritz-Carlton Astana (www.marriott) costs from Dh1,325; alternatively, the new St Regis Astana costs from Dh1,458 per night including taxes.

When to visit

March-May and September-November

Visas

Citizens of many countries, including the UAE do not need a visa to enter Kazakhstan for up to 30 days. Contact the nearest Kazakhstan embassy or consulate.

Awar Qalb

Director: Jamal Salem

Starring: Abdulla Zaid, Joma Ali, Neven Madi and Khadija Sleiman

Two stars

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier

UAE results
Ireland beat UAE by six wickets
Zimbabwe beat UAE by eight wickets
UAE beat Netherlands by 10 wickets

Fixtures
UAE v Vanuatu, Thursday, 3pm, Zayed Cricket Stadium
Ireland v Netherlands, 7.30pm, Zayed Cricket Stadium

Group B table
1) Ireland 3 3 0 6 +2.407
2. Netherlands 3 2 1 4 +1.117
3) UAE 3 1 2 2 0.000
4) Zimbabwe 4 1 3 2 -0.844
5) Vanuatu 3 1 2 2 -2.180

Brave CF 27 fight card

Welterweight:
Abdoul Abdouraguimov (champion, FRA) v Jarrah Al Selawe (JOR)

Lightweight:
Anas Siraj Mounir (TUN) v Alex Martinez (CAN)

Welterweight:
Mzwandile Hlongwa (RSA) v Khamzat Chimaev (SWE)

Middleweight:
Tarek Suleiman (SYR) v Rustam Chsiev (RUS)
Mohammad Fakhreddine (LEB) v Christofer Silva (BRA)

Super lightweight:
Alex Nacfur (BRA) v Dwight Brooks (USA)

Bantamweight:
Jalal Al Daaja (JOR) v Tariq Ismail (CAN)
Chris Corton (PHI) v Zia Mashwani (PAK)

Featherweight:
Sulaiman (KUW) v Abdullatip (RUS)

Super lightweight:
Flavio Serafin (BRA) v Mohammad Al Katib (JOR)

SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE

Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Stars: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac
Rating: 4/5

The 12 breakaway clubs

England

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur

Italy
AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus

Spain
Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

The Little Mermaid

Director: Rob Marshall
Stars: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem
Rating: 2/5

Medicus AI

Started: 2016

Founder(s): Dr Baher Al Hakim, Dr Nadine Nehme and Makram Saleh

Based: Vienna, Austria; started in Dubai

Sector: Health Tech

Staff: 119

Funding: €7.7 million (Dh31m)

 

Another way to earn air miles

In addition to the Emirates and Etihad programmes, there is the Air Miles Middle East card, which offers members the ability to choose any airline, has no black-out dates and no restrictions on seat availability. Air Miles is linked up to HSBC credit cards and can also be earned through retail partners such as Spinneys, Sharaf DG and The Toy Store.

An Emirates Dubai-London round-trip ticket costs 180,000 miles on the Air Miles website. But customers earn these ‘miles’ at a much faster rate than airline miles. Adidas offers two air miles per Dh1 spent. Air Miles has partnerships with websites as well, so booking.com and agoda.com offer three miles per Dh1 spent.

“If you use your HSBC credit card when shopping at our partners, you are able to earn Air Miles twice which will mean you can get that flight reward faster and for less spend,” says Paul Lacey, the managing director for Europe, Middle East and India for Aimia, which owns and operates Air Miles Middle East.

The specs: 2018 BMW R nineT Scrambler

Price, base / as tested Dh57,000

Engine 1,170cc air/oil-cooled flat twin four-stroke engine

Transmission Six-speed gearbox

Power 110hp) @ 7,750rpm

Torque 116Nm @ 6,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined 5.3L / 100km

Roll of honour 2019-2020

Dubai Rugby Sevens
Winners: Dubai Hurricanes
Runners up: Bahrain

West Asia Premiership
Winners: Bahrain
Runners up: UAE Premiership

UAE Premiership
}Winners: Dubai Exiles
Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes

UAE Division One
Winners: Abu Dhabi Saracens
Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes II

UAE Division Two
Winners: Barrelhouse
Runners up: RAK Rugby

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

RESULT

Huddersfield Town 2 Manchester United 1
Huddersfield: Mooy (28'), Depoitre (33')
Manchester United: Rashford (78')

 

Man of the Match: Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town)

Day 4, Abu Dhabi Test: At a glance

Moment of the day Not much was expected – on Sunday or ever – of Hasan Ali as a batsman. And yet he lit up the late overs of the Pakistan innings with a happy cameo of 29 from 25 balls. The highlight was when he launched a six right on top of the netting above the Pakistan players’ viewing area. He was out next ball.

Stat of the day – 1,358 There were 1,358 days between Haris Sohail’s previous first-class match and his Test debut for Pakistan. The lack of practice in the multi-day format did not show, though, as the left-hander made an assured half-century to guide his side through a potentially damaging collapse.

The verdict As is the fashion of Test matches in this country, the draw feels like a dead-cert, before a clatter of wickets on the fourth afternoon puts either side on red alert. With Yasir Shah finding prodigious turn now, Pakistan will be confident of bowling Sri Lanka out. Whether they have enough time to do so and chase the runs required remains to be seen.

Graduated from the American University of Sharjah

She is the eldest of three brothers and two sisters

Has helped solve 15 cases of electric shocks

Enjoys travelling, reading and horse riding