Rising divorce rates
Alarm is running particularly high in the Gulf. Divorce rates here are often reported in terms of percentage of marriages in a given year: for example, 37% in Kuwait, 25% in UAE and 20% in Saudi Arabia, in 2007, according to one comprehensive review of the phenomenon in the Gulf states.
In Qatar, for example, there were roughly 12 divorces per thousand male Qataris over the age of 15 in 2009. This rate has increased by almost a quarter since 2000 (Both the rate, and rate of increase, is somewhat lower for Qatari women) and is almost 10 times higher than in Egypt. One study by Hamoud Fahd Al-Qashan that looked at divorce in Qatar argues that this rate is so much higher in part because economics are depressing the divorce rate in Egypt, since men are reluctant to shell out alimony and pay for separate accommodation—not as much of a problem in gas-fuelled Qatar. Looking at Qataris in detail, the study found the main reasons for divorce were spousal misunderstanding and lack of communication, problems it attributed in part to shifting roles within marriage as a consequence of the rapid rise in women’s education and employment. As for sexual relations in particular, a third of the divorced couples in the survey cited them as an important factor in their break up, and two-thirds agreed that loss of sexual desire played a role in their split.