Wary of high divorce rates, Saudi girls wed education!

Updated 30 January 2014

Wary of high divorce rates, Saudi girls wed education!

The Kingdom’s soaring divorce rates have forced young Saudi girls to opt for pursuing higher education rather than getting married at an early age.
Divorce cases increased to more than 30,000 in 2012, averaging 82 divorces per day, or three divorces an hour.
The study, conducted by the economic research unit at Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper, showed that there are 2.5 divorce cases for every 1,000 men above 15.
“Divorce rates in the Kingdom are alarmingly high. To put an end to that, young couples must attend marriage counseling sessions before getting married,” says Dr. Aliyah Hani Hashim, a Jeddah-based marriage counselor.
“Having a certificate from a marriage counselor prior to getting married should be made obligatory. This will ensure a better understanding of the responsibilities spouses have toward one another,” she said.
Hashim adds that the rate of divorce among youth is definitely on the increase and that many couples are getting divorced after only one or two years of marriage.
In earlier reports, the Ministry of Economy and Planning confirmed that while courts and marriage officials register around 70,000 marriage contracts annually, they also process more than 13,000 official divorce papers.
Basma Abuznada, a young Saudi who is a medical intern, says she is planning to go abroad to continue her medical studies rather than stay in the Kingdom and potentially get married at an early age.
“My parents are very adamant about finding a spouse for me even though I’m only 23. The idea of marriage in today’s world has totally changed in my mind. Being a witness to what most of my married friends are going through, I totally opt to continue my studies rather that get married early.” She adds that divorce has become an easy way out. “I know a lot of other girls who prefer to continue their studies rather than get married early. Of course, there are marriages that work and couples that live happily, but it’s always better to be on the safe side and graduate first.”
Sophia Abdul Kader, another young Saudi, says that it is important to get to know potential husbands before getting married.
“Divorce today is occurring in very disturbing proportions and for the slightest reasons, which will definitely scare young girls off and change their perception of marriage.”
“There is a need for more marriage counseling courses conducted by expert psychologists throughout the Kingdom,” says Abdul Kader. “The Kingdom must take steps to help solve this problem and convince young girls that divorce is not the only solution to a bad relationship.”
Abdul Kader, 26, is delaying marriage simply out of fear. She is currently pursuing her MBA at a reputable college in Yanbu. “It is out of the fear of getting married that I continue studying so that my parents or relatives don’t bother me with talk of marriage. Of course, some day I have to face it, but for now, I just need to convince myself that divorce is not happening to every couple.”
The study also showed that the Kingdom ranked second among GCC countries for the highest divorce rates after Bahrain, where the rate stands at 2.7 cases for every 1,000 people.
The same study showed an upward trend in divorce cases in 2012 compared with 2010, when divorce cases amounted to 75 a day.

First charity art auction in Saudi Arabia hits SR4.8 million in sales

Updated 27 June 2019

First charity art auction in Saudi Arabia hits SR4.8 million in sales

  • The event, which featured 43 works by Saudi and Arab artists, was held at historic Nassif House in Al-Balad, Jeddah
  • Tawaf around the Kaaba 2,” a painting by Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Shalty, fetched SR 650,000, the highest price paid for any single work in the auction

JEDDAH: Art for Al Balad, the first charity auction of contemporary art in the Kingdom, achieved sales of SR 4.8 million ($1.3 million) on Wednesday.

The event, which featured 43 works by Saudi and Arab artists, all of which sold, was held at historic Nassif House in Al-Balad, Jeddah, on Wednesday. It was organized by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with auction house Christie’s.

“It was much above our expectations; we are very happy,” said Michael Jeha, chairman of Christie's Middle East.

About 200 Saudi art collectors joined artists and other members of the Saudi and international cultural communities at the event. Bidding was highly competitive, with “Tawaf around the Kaaba 2,” a painting by Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Shalty, fetching SR 650,000, the highest price paid for any single work in the auction.


• Nassif House was built in 1872. Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, was received at this house upon his entry to the city in 1925.

• The Saudi government is keen to restore and preserve buildings with historic and cultural significance, and carries out regular renovation work.

• Al-Balad, or Jeddah historic district, is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom. It contains about 600 buildings that date back to the 19th century.


“Where to” by Prince Badr bin Abdulmohsen was the second-most expensive work, selling for SR 500,000, while “Witness in the Desert” by Abdullah Al-Sahikh attracted a winning bid of SR 380,000.

“It was extremely pleasing, very encouraging,” said Jeha. “The energy in the room was fantastic. The enthusiasm was very strong. I think for the very first auction, we can all be extremely pleased.”

Jeha described the growth of the art scene and culture in general in Saudi Arabia as very impressive, and said that the Ministry of Culture has developed a strong platform and program for the coming years, which will help to establish art and culture in the hearts and minds of people in the Kingdom.

The profits from the auction will help to establish a new heritage museum in Jeddah’s historic district and support The Help Center, a non-profit organization that provides customized support to children in the city with special educational needs.

The auction received donations and funding from galleries, cultural foundations, private collectors, and artists across the Arab World, the assistance of which was acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture.

“This would not be possible without the generous support of both the donors and the talented artists,” said Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez, deputy minister of culture, in his opening speech.

The ministry aspires to create and develop a cultural environment in which artists and other creatives can access a platform that celebrates a shared identity and builds understanding between people.

Speaking of the Ministry’s three main objectives in its cultural vision for 2019, Fayez said that it aims to support the nation’s cultural transformation by promoting culture as a way of life, enable the sector to contribute to the economy, and encourage international cultural exchanges.

Before the auction, the works on sale were on display to the public in an exhibition on June 23 and 24.