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2 December 2019

DIFI forum addresses marriage challenges faced by Arab families

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QF member unveils research reports on marriage trends and challenges across the Arab world

The social, cultural, and educational importance of marriage – both for individuals, and for society – and how it is being affected by a changing world has been highlighted during the Arab Family Forum on Marriage: Research and Policy Perspectives.

The forum, organized by Doha International Family Institute (DIFI), is taking place at Qatar National Convention Center, with Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, and Mrs. Machaille Al-Naimi, President of Community Development, Qatar Foundation, being among those who attended its opening.

Her Excellency Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Affairs Sector at the Arab League.

It is providing a platform for discussing the findings of newly-launched research reports by DIFI – a member of Qatar Foundation – on marriage in the Arab world, with policy-makers, researchers, experts, service providers, and representatives of civil society and regional organizations all participating. DIFI has produced reports titled The State of Marriage in the Arab World and Marital Education Programs in the Arab World.

Her Excellency Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Affairs Sector at the Arab League, was the forum’s keynote speaker, saying: "I am delighted to be in Doha, and there are many indications around us that show this country is continuously thriving.

“This forum reflects Qatar’s commitment to addressing one of the main issues affecting the Arab world. It is a challenge that has not been sufficiently addressed before due to the negative factors that affect it, but if it remains unaddressed, it may negatively reflected the Arab world as a whole.

“The biggest challenge faced by Arab families in some countries relates to the negative impact of recent conflicts and wars, and the consequent waves of migrants and displaced people that have affected the components of the family unit.

“There is no doubt that the institution of marriage is facing a serious crisis. According to the DIFI report’s statistics, many societies have high levels of separation and divorce. The report clearly presents the different dimensions and issues surrounding marriage in the Arab world, including the context of marriage context, its patterns, age, and marital relations, among others. We appreciate all the efforts invested in producing this report, and would like extend our thanks and congratulations to DIFI and everyone involved in this process.”

Dr. Sharifa Noaman Al-Emadi, Executive Director of DIFI.

Giving the forum’s welcoming remarks, Dr. Sharifa Noaman Al-Emadi, Executive Director of DIFI, said: “This forum was organized to discuss DIFI’s report on the state of marriage.

“Some may wonder about the reason for discussing the state of marriage. Too often, the focus is on highlighting issues related to divorce, but I believe that we should focus instead on the topic of marriage because it also faces many challenges.

"What distinguishes our research is that it covers the state of marriage across 22 countries. The challenges faced by countries in the Arab region can vary depending on the culture of their society, and the biggest challenge remains the high rate of divorce in general. One of DIFI’s key roles is proposing policies that will help to maintain the cohesion of the family unit, as we are considered to be the key source of information about Arab families in Arab communities.

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“Through this forum, we aim to produce recommendations and policies that will help to protect the institution of marriage, and we have also produced another report on programs related to marital education. We have found that there are 24 programs in 22 Arab countries that focus on people who are already committed to marrying, but there is either a lack or a complete absence of programs for people who want to know more about marriage, or for those who are already married, and this is what we will be working on in the future.”

The first day of the forum included three sessions, respectively focusing on the state of marriage in the GCC, across the wider Middle East, and in North Africa.

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