Relocation to UAE may wreck expat marriages

Relocation to UAE may wreck expat marriages

Relocation to UAE may wreck expat marriages

Would-be expat professionals have traditionally flocked to the UAE for its luxury lifestyle, high salaries and promotion prospects, but statistics show the relocation may trigger divorce.

Expatriate divorce rates in Dubai surged by 25 per cent in 2014, a year which saw an average of four divorces every day. Referring to divorce in general, statistics for 2015 provided by the Dubai Statistics Centre revealed six cases of divorce for every 1,000 residents, a high figure compared with the majority of other world countries, with the 2016 figures even higher. Worse yet, the figures excluded expat divorces registered in their home countries.

A comparison with Abu Dhabi’s expatriate divorce rates is tricky to evaluate as the two countries use different statistical models, but date released in 2015 show expat women are 33 per cent more likely to institute divorce proceedings. In addition, couples are now considering divorce during the early stages of their marriages, with a good number seeking advice from divorce clinics. Even so, an average of 70 per cent of those taking professional advice are going ahead with their plans to divorce.

According to UAE counsellors, newly arrived expatriates are subject to unique pressure on their personal relationships due to their choice of lifestyle. Counselling in the UAE is expensive, meaning most couples who apply for help are financially well-off, although ready cash doesn’t seem to compensate for the loss of a familiar support system after emigration. In brief, newly arrived expats are living a long way from their personal comfort zone, with predictable effects on their marriages.

According to marriage and family therapy expert Dr Kennon Ryder, Dubai life is a huge challenge for even wealthy expats, with most unable to avoid a sense of rootlessness, a feeling which may lead to infidelity and broken trust between couples as well as unhealthy dependency on alcohol. Depression can occur when a husband is often away on business trips and his wife has no close friends.

Sudden wealth can also bring problems, causing concerns for the family to be replaced by the urge to make even more money. Long working hours can lead to disassociation with partners and children, causing massive insecurity and emotional disconnection and resulting in eventual divorce.

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