Thursday, October 28, 2010

Divorce: an unfortunate phenomenon

As I heard news of yet another divorce back home I started to wonder about all the possible reasons there is such a high rate of divorce in the UK, particularly compared with Oman. Many questions have been arising in the UK surrounding the breakdown of the traditional nuclear family and the social effects this is having. Whilst I don't want to judge cases on an individual level, I do feel that as a whole the casual attitude people have developed towards marriage and divorce is having a detrimental effect on society.

I think that despite the disdain with which arranged marriage is looked upon in the West, perhaps there is something to be learned from it, or at least the attitudes that drive it. Here are some reasons I have come up with about why there are more successful marriages here (and I don't intend to show any bias to either side).

1) Religion; people who believe in the afterlife are usually more content with what they have in this life and Muslims strongly believe there is religious benefit in a good marriage. (This view could be supported by the correlation between religious affiliation and divorce rates in the UK.) There are those who don't have these beliefs, who would like to get the most enjoyment from life and are on the constant search for "happiness" which is often accompanied by a sort of 'the grass is greener on the other side' attitude.

2) Love; feelings are great but they are also changeable. If you expect to be passionately in love with your spouse for the rest of your life you are likely to, at one point or another, be disappointed. Traditional Omani marriages are not based on any Hollywood-induced idea of being in love. It is hoped that love will blossom over time but it is understood that the key to marriage is effort.

3) Bad examples; perhaps those who are surrounded with more divorce are more likely to get divorced themselves. They may have a lack of confidence in the success of marriage as well as less positive examples to look to.

4) Arranged marriages; they aren't always the outdated tradition they are portrayed as. If you are lucky to have good parents they will find a spouse who will suit you, have the same values and the same ambitions, which will help maintain a balanced relationship.

5) Maybe Omanis are just more inclined to settle?! More serious grounds for divorce such as adultery and violence are probably no less common here, but maybe people are more likely to look the other way or forgive.

6) In some cases here in Oman an unhappy marriage is dealt with by the man marrying a second wife. While this is certainly a way of avoiding divorce I'm not sure it's a valid one....

7) More kids: Omani families tend to be a lot bigger. When a couple are completely consumed with children they probably have no time for personal disagreements! ; )

Anyway I hope this post hasn't felt like a condemnation of divorce, but I do wholeheartedly believe in marriage and only feel sad that it can't work out for everyone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oman's Great Rep

Well it looks like Oman, this modest little nation, is gaining great credit internationally. An article in the New York Times written by columnist Nicholas Kristof praises Oman and the progress which has taken place here in the last 40 years. The article, titled "What Oman Can Teach Us" unreservedly criticises other nations, including the States, for not following Oman's example of gaining peace through putting more effort in the education and empowerment of the people.
In Oman education has been welcomed by all, but has not been at the expense of culture and tradition. This is certainly a reason why there is stability here. The reality is that Omanis (not to mention expats) have love for, and faith in Oman and their Sultan. There is a widespread drive to succeed, not just for the benefit of individuals but for the pride of the country. Also, the Sultan's efforts to maintain a peaceful relationship with other countries has earned favour both at home and abroad.

For more Oman-loving you can read Kristof's article here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The end of a long long pause

It's been far too long since I wrote a post...I'm going to blame life and, well, Oman! There is so much going on and so much to see that it's easy to get distracted from more serious purposes. From the beautiful post-Khareef Salalah to Muscat finally getting cooler (only slightly). I shall appreciate the cooler weather by spending as much time outside as possible, now I have lived (and complained) through my first summer here. I watched Amal Maher perform at the Oman Auditorium a couple of weeks ago. Even without fully understanding the lyrics, it would be impossible not to enjoy her amazing voice and listening to a live Arabic orchestra for the first time was wonderful.

So there is a lot going on in Muscat in the coming months; National Day, Eid al Adha, Omani Women's Day (tonnes of writing material!) There are also a lot more performances at the Oman Auditorium. Personally, I'm hoping to catch the Antonio Najarro Dance Company perform the "Flamenco Oriental" in November. Apparently in the last Flamenco performance in September the auditorium was so full people were having to sit on the floor in the aisles! It's great that the performing arts are so enthusiastically received in Oman.

Oh and it's great news that six girls have been chosen to represent Oman at the Young Arab Entrepreneurs Competition in Morocco. Another triumph for females in the Sultanate!