Saudi women prioritise employment and education over early marriage

Saudi women prioritise employment and education over early marriage
A recent study has shown the number of Saudi women not marrying young has shot up to four million, more than double the number five years ago.
2 min read
31 July, 2015
Saudi Arabia has one of the highest divorce rates in the world [Getty]
A study conducted by the Islamic University in Madina has revealed the number of unwed women in Saudi Arabia has risen to four million, a massive jump from the 1.5 single Saudi ladies over the age of 30 just five years ago.

Sociologist Ahmad al-Sinani told Makkah Newspaper the main reasons for the recent rise was the high cost of dowries, wedding expenses and housing as well as youth unemployment.

“Owners of wedding halls have also contributed to the rise in spinsters because of their excessive prices, which range from around $13,000 to $24,000,” Sinani said.

      Women outnumber men in the kingdom’s universities [Getty]
Marriage is seen as an essential part of “becoming a woman” in conservative Saudi culture where failing to tie the knot carries severe social stigma. Traditionally, women in Saudi Arabia are expected to be married by their early twenties.

Many so-called Saudi “family experts” have failed to realise that the high costs associated with getting married is not the only cause for the “spinster” phenomenon.

A growing number of Saudi women have chosen to remain single through their twenties and into their thirties as they pursue other ambitions such as education and employment.

Women are now taking on a greater role in public life, with jobs mostly in the education sector. Currently, 400,000 women are working in Saudi Arabia compared with less than 55,000 before 2009, according to the labour ministry.

Saudi Arabia also has one of the highest divorce rates in the world with one in five marriages ending in divorce, 80 percent before the first wedding anniversary.

In 2014, out of a population of 21 million Saudis and nine million expats, 34,000 weddings were annulled in Saudi Arabia, three times more compared to the previous year, according to the justice ministry.

The Saudi media has blamed a whole range of factors for the spiraling divorce rates from Facebook and Whatsapp to the moral decay of society