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Wedding - Emirate’s Style

Living around the world, sometimes FAWCO members have the opportunity to take part in or attend an event seeped in tradition.  One of our members share her story about a traditional ‘bride’s wedding’ in the United Emirates.  Read this fascinating story.

My Mom, two other friends and I were lucky enough to have been invited to an Emirati wedding recently in Dubai, UAE. It was a real cultural experience to see the generosity of the Bedouins. Although the name Bedouin produces images of camel hair tents in the desert, this was not the case at all.

We arrived at a large hall; most often used for trade exhibitions, and entered through a shielded doorway which was designed so that no one on the outside could look in. This is to preserve the privacy of those attending this all women's event.  The hall was transformed into a dream reception area as any you would see in western bridal magazines. Thousands of dollars’ worth of flowers were artistically arranged throughout the hall and on each of the almost 100 tables that each seated 10.

We were given the opportunity to spray ourselves with perfume when we entered and went through the receiving line of female relatives of the bride and groom. Next, we were served fruit drinks, red tea, thyme tea, chocolates, sweets, food, food, and more food!! Even though it was an all-women’s event which meant the women were free to show their hair, arms, cleavage and legs, most women stayed in their black abayas and many wore their "burga" (face mask).  For the most part, the marriageable young women were the ones to have taken off their abayas since a wedding is one place for potential mothers-in-law to have a look at who might make a good match for her son. One girl had hair down to her calves and it was obvious that she considered this one of her best assets. It was also fun to see the younger girls dressed up and running around with their younger brothers (to about age 8 years), the only males to attend.

We observed how they greeted each other- four kisses on one cheek and how they expressed their joy- an ear piercing ululating. While waiting for the bride, we were shown a video of the groom's wedding which was held 10 days earlier. I realized it was acceptable for the women to watch the men, but I'm sure the men were never going to see the video of the bride's wedding party! In fact, that is why we didn't take pictures, so as not to offend any of the ladies there who might not have been "modestly" dressed.

Enough cannot be said about the food.  There was food galore, besides the pre-dinner snacks, each table was served generous portions of chicken, barbecued meat, rice pilaf, vegetables, lasagna, and about four other dishes.

Soon after our dinner, and only two hours after we had arrived, the beautiful bride finally made her appearance. She came in, wearing a sleeveless gown, cut low both in front and in the back, and encircled by her veil. As she walked around the room, two aids were making sure that her dress was out of her way, constantly lifting and laying the hem of the dress and the longer than floor length veil. She then went onto the stage and continued her walk, very slowly, first on the right, then on the left, so that all could see her and her gorgeous gown.

By then it was almost midnight, so we got up to leave, as the bride waited for her groom to come and take her to her new home.

Submitted by:  Monica Jubayli. AWA Dubai

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