x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Cash-strapped Omanis opt for charity nuptials

Nineteen couples were married in a "charitable wedding" this week in Oman, where the costs of holding a ceremony have spiralled beyond the means of many low-income grooms.

MUSCAT // Nineteen couples were married in a "charitable wedding" this week in Oman, where the costs of holding a ceremony have spiralled beyond the means of many low-income grooms. The couples were wed on Monday in a single ceremony performed in the Rasool Mosque at Khodh in Muscat. The wedding was paid for by a community fund collected from regular worshippers at the Mosque.

"There are many men like me who work but are not earning enough to bear the rising cost of a marriage ceremony," said Abdulamir Issa, a 27-year-old civil servant who married during the ceremony. "This shows that the communities care enough to think of the welfare of others," he said. Wedding costs have increased rapidly in Oman in the last 20 years. Getting married can cost as much as 10,000 Omani rials ($26,000), mainly as a show of status, with families from both sides inviting as many people as possible for lavish feasts and pompous ceremonies that can last three days.

Charitable multi-weddings, in which community funds pay for the ceremonies of those on low incomes, have emerged as an alternative. Though they are still relatively rare in the sultanate, the ceremonies have the blessing of Muslim clerics. "I encourage such charitable weddings since many young people realise their dreams with the help of community funds to help pay for the costs, which are not getting cheaper," said Seyyid Ahmed al Moosawi, the Imam of the Rasool Mosque.

"Community funded multi-wedding ceremonies are cheaper because every family must trim down the invites because it is just one ceremony for all. The biggest benefit is that the families of the groom and bride don't pay anything." salshaibany@thenational.ae