A Qatari charity is set to build furnished homes for newly-married Qatari couples, in a bid to cut the divorce rate among nationals, the Peninsula reports.
RAF – the Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services – told sister paper Al Sharq that it planned to build 100 furnished homes in Al Wukair, near Al Wakra.
These homes will be given to newly-married Qatari couples for an initial period of two years, after which time their financial situation will be reviewed, Ayed Al Qahtani, RAF’s director-general said.
The newspaper speculates that the charity is stepping in to provide housing to newly married couples in a bid to cut a high divorce rate among nationals.
According to Qatar Statistics Authority figures, divorces between Qatari couples jumped 11 percent between 2011 and 2012.
Earlier this year, the Central Municipal Council pointed to a lack of funds among newlyweds – and therefore a need to share housing with extended family – as a source of stress that leads to divorce.
CMC member Mohamed al-Hajiri says that “a lack of privacy, and parental interference often led to the escalation of small disputes among (Qatari) couples, resulting in divorce and affecting the unity of a family.”
Rising rents and the high cost of buying a home are putting both nationals and expats under financial pressure as Qatar’s population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.
This situation has led to the CMC calling for government entities to provide free housing to junior Qatari employees.
In giving the housing away free, RAF is likely to be seeking to provide an incentive not only for couples to stay married, but also to get married in the first place.
Marriage contracts among Qataris hit a 10-year low in 2010, but figures have now rallied somewhat, from 1,752 in 2010 to 2,053 in 2012, an increase of 17 percent.
Housing costs are only part of the overall picture. Some Qataris have pointed to the high cost of weddings here as another issue, with the cost of renting a marriage hall ranging between QR70,000 and QR150,000.
To tackle this problem, the government last year announced the building of five new marriage halls, which will be free for Qatari couples to use.
Still, despite the country’s wealth, and benefits such as free land upon marriage, free utilities and low-interest loans for nationals, three quarters of Qatari families are significantly in debt. The 2011 National Development Strategy shows that most owe an average of QR250,000.
Credit: Photo by Matt Stratton