According to the monthly figures released by the Ministry of Development and Planning Statistics, there were 188 marriages among Qataris this January and 153 among non-Qataris. But in the same month, there were 66 divorces among Qataris and only 40 among the non-Qataris. This shows the divorce rate among Qataris is very high considering that they comprise only a miniscule portion of the country’s more than two million population. In other words, in percentage terms, the divorce rate among Qataris was 62 percent compared to 38 among non-Qataris. The figures are in agreement with the data published by the media in the past few years. This means that rising affluence seems to be having an adverse impact on the stability of the marriage.
According to a report published on Al Jazeera website, increasingly extravagant weddings in Qatar are making it difficult for men who pay for the celebrations. A Qatari said he spent QR450,000 on his wedding for which he worked and saved for nine years.
“I didn’t even travel once outside Qatar. I was saving and saving. I didn’t buy myself a fancy car,” he was quoted as saying. He regretted spending that much because his marriage fell apart later.
As a result of the increasing cost of weddings and growing expectations of people, marriage rates in Qatar have declined markedly over the last few years. The advancing educational status of women and their increasing participation in the work force are said to be other reasons contributing to this phenomenon.
Reports show Qatari women are having their first child at a later age and having fewer children overall. Divorce rates have been rising since 2001. And rough estimates in the local media suggest a quarter of marriageable Qatari women remain single.
All these figures pose challenges for the government. As the local population increasingly becomes globalised and the country continues to gain wealth with the launch of several new hydrocarbon projects, the standard of living is expected to soar, thereby by putting further pressure on the institution of marriage.