One in three Abu Dhabi divorces were marriages lasting less than 12 months

Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre also said that 5,892 were married in the emirate in 2016

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Almost a third of Abu Dhabi couples who went through divorce last year had been married for less than 12 months, according to official statistics.

And half of those seeking a split had been together for less than three years.

An Emirati psychologist said the high rate was likely down to rushed decisions made by young people who feel pressured to get married.

“People make mistakes, and there is a lot of pressure to get married, and then a lot of pressure to stay married, and people start young,” Dr Naser Al Riyami said.

“When you make the first realisation that 'this is not what I had expected', there is an option to heal and it has to be a choice made, and at the end of the day it is about realigning what you expect from this person,” he said.

Dr Al Riyami said high or unrealistic expectations can also contribute to the breakdown of a marriage.

“You would have an expectation of marriage and what it should be like, and then that expectation is broken,” he said.

“Usually there is a honeymoon phase when you get into a new relationship, it could last for hour or ten years.”


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Dr Al Riyami said the onus was on both parties to keep working on the relationship.

“When you stop trying there is an auto default person that comes out of the other person and you have to deal with it, and this happens for both people in any relationship,” he said.

At that point, couples should “open the lines of communication and talk about these differences, and sometimes talk about relationship healing.”

Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre also said that 5,892 were married in the emirate in 2016.

While there was a rise in the number of marriage contracts signed in Abu Dhabi last year, the divorce rate has also gone up to 1,922 – a 4.8 per cent average annual increase rate since 1975.

Dr Al Riyami said the reason the divorce rates increased was foremost because the number of marriages also increased.

Dr Naser Al Riyami, previously said high or unrealistic expectations can also contribute to the breakdown of a marriage. Ravindranath K / The National

He said two ways to reduce divorce rates would be for people to either stop getting married, or make better choices when they get married.

Statistics showed that marriages between UAE nationals dropped slightly, to an average of 7.6 for every 1,000 Emiratis in 2016, as compared 7.9 in 2015.

Dr Al Riyami said reconciliation efforts between spouses are common and can be achieved through psychological counselling, government initiatives or systems such as the family guidance section that any couple filing for divorce must first go through before their divorce is granted.

The total percentage of mixed marriages - meaning between an Emirati and an expat - was 22.7 per cent.

The average age for Emirati men to get married reached 27.2, and for women it was 24.2.

In general, there were 0.7 divorce cases for every 1,000 people across the emirate of Abu Dhabi, 2.4 cases for every 1,000 nationals, and 0.4 cases for every 1,000 expats.

Last year, a study conducted by Zayed University, UAE University and Al Khwarizmi International College, found interference of family members, financial issues and lack of communication were among some of the biggest factors.

Dr Nicole Bromfield, associate professor in the university’s department of social work said “the single biggest cause overall mentioned by both men and women was family interference”.

Other experts have pointed to expectations of expensive lifestyles leading couples to overspend, adding pressure to early marriage.