Muscat: The number of divorce cases registered by Oman was 3,552 in 2011, compared with 2,544 in 2010. The Dhofar governorate has topped other governorates in the number of divorce cases filed in the Sultanate, with 701 cases. The Muscat governorate followed in second place with 663 cases. The Musandam governorate, with 18 cases, recorded the lowest number of divorce cases.
Studies show that Oman has the lowest divorce rate in the GCC region. Statistics show that in 2011 the divorce rates reached 20 per cent in Saudi Arabia, 24 per cent in Bahrain, 25.62 per cent in the United Arab Emirates, 34.76 per cent in Qatar, 37.13 per cent in Kuwait, and 12 per cent in Oman, according to a report.
A report by Booz and Company notes that the period since the discovery of oil —78 years ago— has seen a vast accumulation of wealth, industrialisation, and accelerated transition from nomadic to sedentary and urbanised existence. The other factors which have contributed to the transformation include infrastructure development, expansion of education, satellite television, and Internet.
This change has contributed to a major transformation of the region and has affected both societal and personal behavioural norms. As a result, both modernisation and tradition have strong influences on the society in this region.
Ahmed Al Batashi, a psychological advisor, believes that setting up pre-marriage counselling clinics to prepare Omani nationals for matrimony, rather than simply testing couples for hereditary and infectious diseases, could dramatically decrease the divorce rates in the Sultanate. There is an increasing awareness in the GCC region of the widespread increase in the divorce rate and its negative effects.
The GCC countries have taken various legal and social steps to halt this rise. Some are considering the implementation of new laws that would prevent husbands from recklessly announcing divorce to their spouses, acknowledged Al Batashi.
Al Batashi added that women are more negatively affected by divorce than their male counterparts. Women in the GCC countries are still subject to discrimination in divorce cases because of lack of law-enforcement mechanisms to ensure the implementation of women's legal rights.
Observers note the need to establish advisory centres for couples to seek counselling before and after marriage and during divorce. These centres would encourage dialogue within the family and would organise pre-marriage training sessions as well.