While the number of marriages in the Sultanate has registered a massive fall of 21.8 per cent in the last five years, divorces have seen an increase with almost more than 10 a day. According to figures from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the number of registered marriages in 2017 stood at 22,284 from 28,515 in 2013. This means from 78 marriages a day in 2013, they fell to just 61 in 2017. North Al Batinah Governorate registered the highest number of marriage documents. The figures quoting the Centre for Marriage and Divorce Statistics showed that 2016 saw the lowest number of marriages and the highest number of divorces during the previous five years.
The number of registered divorce documents reached 3,736, an increase of 3.2 per cent, compared to 2015 by 10 cases per day. The data shows that there were 25,659 marriages in 2015, 28,152 in 2014, 28,515 in 2013 and 29,840 in 2012. For most divorces, experts cite marital conflicts as the main reasons. According to Dr Hamed al Sinawi, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at Sultan Qaboos University, often it happens that couples enter the wedlock with unrealistic expectations. “They should try to know each other well, especially matters relating to finance. Also they should live a life of forgiveness,” he said, adding, “they should mutually resist any external influence”.
While opinions on the fall in marriages vary from higher dowry demands and rising wedding costs, youths say that they delay the marriages as part of their plan to save enough money before entering the wedlock. Salim bin Khalfan al Yakoobi, a public relation executive with a leading real estate company, said that he will think of marriage only when he has enough savings in his account. “It’s not just that spend all the money to pay dowry and for other marriage expenses. We need to have many other essentials like a house and others,” the 26-year-old told the Observer. Faisal al Lawati, a bank employee, said that he wanted to have maximum freedom before tying the knot.
“I cannot have the same amount of freedom that I enjoy today after the marriage. I want to be a free bird so that I can fly to any place I want to now,” he said. But very often, the huge expenses involved in the marriages deter many youngsters from thinking of the big day in their lives. “Not only are there the costs of increasingly lavish wedding parties, but there’s also a pressure on young men to produce a substantial dowry,” said Dawood al Balushi, a teacher. The payment reportedly ranges anywhere from a minimum of RO 3,000 to even above RO 30,000. Wedding event managers say that a normal one-day Omani wedding can cost up to RO 5,000 in peak marriage season or otherwise.
Meanwhile, figures also show that there was a 23 per cent increase in the number of Omani men marrying women from other countries. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of Omani women married to Gulf nationals increased by 7 and 25 cases from other non-Gulf countries. With regard to divorces in the Sultanate, 2016 recorded an increase in the registered certificates compared to the previous year, where the number in 2016 was 3,736 certificates against 3,619 in 2015. Muscat Governorate recorded the highest number of divorce certificates registered in 2016, with 926 certificates registering an increase of 3 per cent, followed by North Batinah with 678 registered certificates. The number of divorce certificates registered in South Batinah increased by 17 per cent to 330 cases.