The groom had taken a Dh500,000 loan from the bank to pay for the wedding.
At a time when skyrocketing wedding expenses are discouraging many young people to tie the knot, an Emirati father has decided to request only Dh10 as dowry for his daughter.
When Abu Dhabi-based Muhammad Ghaith Al Mazrouie came to know that his son-in-law has taken a colossal loan of Dh500,000 from a local bank to pay for his daughter’s wedding ceremony, he was alarmed and found it “ridiculous”.
“This is neither acceptable nor logical at all,” he said. “How on earth can one get himself under such huge debt for just four hours of fun.”
The father asked the man to return the money to the bank, and decided to hold the wedding ceremony in his own house.
“The huge loan will pile up pressure, sour their relation and could even end in separation – as is happening with some newly married couples.” Such loans can never buy happiness for the couples, he pointed out.
“I was shocked when I was told that my son-in-law had taken a loan of about Dh500,000 to pay for the wedding hall and other expenses.”
“Now that I have made it clear that I would request for only Dh10 dowry, everybody is happy,” he said, adding that his daughter has also appreciated his move. “She told me she didn’t want to push her husband into debts.” She agreed that they would have been happy for two or three days with the loan, but “it would have remained a big burden for years”.
Netizens laud novel gesture
The father’s novel gesture went viral on social media, with netizens wishing the couple a blessed, stable and happy marital life.
“This is how parents should curtail extravaganza involved in marriages,” said Mohammed Ibrahim, an Emirati national. “High wedding costs have discouraged so many young men from getting married for years.”
Sara Abdullah, an Emirati national, said she was hopeful that the couple will spend a happy married life. “I know so may marriages that were built on loans, and finally ended in separation, and agony for many couples.”
According to a survey, the average cost of a wedding in the UAE stands between Dh300,000 and Dh500,000.
“The UAE is one of the most affluent markets in the world where traditionally weddings are very important and no expense is spared.”
Haidi Abdulhadi, a lawyer, said the Federal Supreme Court had ordered a woman to pay Dh150,000 and return the dowry to her husband whom she said “had taken too long to arrange for the wedding and approached the court for divorce”.
The groom then filed a counter-suit, requiring the bride to pay for the wedding arrangements and move to the marital home. In the event she refused to do so, he demanded the dowry and wedding expenses be returned to him.
The court ruled in favour of the husband and struck down the wife’s divorce plea.
While some insist on holding lavish wedding parties, some others opt to keep it simple.
Mass weddings, marriage fund
The UAE government, to ease wedding expenses, has helped thousands of Emirati grooms and families with several initiatives like mass weddings and marriage fund.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rakadh Al Amiri, former chairman of Marriage Fund Committee, reportedly said mass weddings are in line with the righteous approach laid down by the late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
“Sheikh Zayed had assigned me the job of organising and holding the first mass wedding in Al Ain in 1999.”
Mass weddings are common in the UAE and have been held for a long time. They are typically organised to lift the burden of wedding expenses on young Emirati couples.
The biggest mass wedding ever in the UAE, with 530 Emirati men and women tying the nuptial knot, took place at Al Ain Centre for Conferences and Celebrations on November 25, 2017. The wedding coincided with the ‘Year of Giving’ and was part of the country’s 46th National Day celebrations.
Hamad Al Rahoumi, FNC member, said they encourage mass weddings to curb wasteful ceremonies. “FNC members had advised the government to increase support for mass weddings to encourage more youths to tie the knot.
“Weddings are not about organising lavish parties. They should be simple and held to support social moorings,” said Al Rahoumi.
“An average individual wedding party can cost from Dh200,000 to Dh1 million. The same amount can be spent on a mass wedding party of five to 10 couples because the number of attendees are almost the same,” he said.
Al Rahoumi said he is happy with the initiative of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, to organise the first mass wedding in Abu Dhabi that includes non-citizens. “It shows her generosity and the desire to see that everyone is happy.”
Expats go private
Meanwhile, high wedding costs are also forcing expatriate couples in the UAE to prune guest lists, avoid extra services and sometimes go private.
Rochelle Malaika, head wedding planner from Marriagement, said couples are opting for simpler weddings now. The couples – whom she names as the “budget conscious ones” – have taken several steps to eliminate costs.
“Guest lists have started getting shorter. It’s no longer a big gala affair inviting everybody from your neighbourhood to your baker and your hair stylist. Couples like to concentrate on close family and friends,” Rochelle said.