x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Don’t go into marriage with a mountain of debt, Emiratis told

The Sharjah Marriage Fund encourages couples to avoid extravagant weddings to ease the financial burden of newlyweds.

SHARJAH // Couples are being urged to opt for cheaper weddings to avoid starting married life heavily in debt.

With extravagant ceremonies costing up to Dh1 million, social authorities are eager to ease the financial burden on newlyweds.

“Expensive and debt-funded marriages survive on stress and end in divorce,” said Fauzia Al Taresh, director of family affairs at the Ministry of Social Affairs. “It’s in everyone’s interest to see that married couples live in peace and happiness.

The Sharjah Marriage Fund held its third family forum yesterday to advise brides-to-be who have seen relatives and friends splash out hundreds of thousands of dirhams on their big day not to follow suit.

“The marriage fund is doing its best to implement programmes that promote and achieve its vision of having stable Emirati families,” said Habiba Al Hosni, the fund’s acting director general.

“One of these programmes is creating awareness against extravagance and excessive spending on weddings for aspiring couples.”

The fund has organised 10 mass weddings so far this year, and 60 more bridegrooms are due to be married at the end of the month in a ceremony organised in conjunction with the Emirates Identity Authority.

The fund is also planning a mass wedding for brides this year, as only bridegrooms and a male audience attend most Emirati mass weddings.

At a mass wedding at Zabeel Park in March, 51 grooms took their first steps in married life.

Authorities hope promoting mass weddings and cheaper private options will encourage couples, who would otherwise be put off by the cost, to tie the knot.

Lowering the cost of weddings is one of the key objectives of the marriage fund, which offers loans of Dh70,000 to Emiratis with a monthly income of Dh20,000.

However, some Emiratis said the loan did not go far enough to cover the expenses involved.

“It cannot even buy the bride’s wedding dress,” said Omar, 30, a photographer who is unmarried. “My brother got it and simply used it to pay for the dowry. His wedding was cheap but it did cost around Dh150,000 without the dowries.”

Sharjah Women’s Union Association holds wedding exhibitions and festivals to help couples to find venues where they can hold affordable weddings, and where to buy accessories on a budget. The association organises the annual Sharjah Perfect Wedding Show at the Sharjah Expo Centre.

ykakande@thenational.ae