(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Reminiscing the responsibility given to him by the UAE founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the organiser of the first mass wedding in Al Ain, recounted the importance mass weddings in Emirati culture.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rakadh Al Amiri, member of the Consultative Council of Abu Dhabi and former chairman of Marriage Fund Committee, said that the initiative aims at facilitating marriage for the youths and support them in reducing the wedding expenses while doing away with lavishness in such ceremonies.
"Holding mass weddings come in pursuance of the good and righteous approach laid down by our founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan," he said. He said the late Sheikh Zayed had assigned him 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 latest mass wedding to be held in Abu Dhabi today evening and will include non-Emiratis for the first time.
The wedding organised by the General Women's Union (GWU) will see 10 couples tie the knot, with all their expenses covered by sponsors.
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.
Importance of mass weddings
Mass wedding ceremonies for Emirati couples are common in cities as well as the rural areas in the country. "Rulers, officials and FNC members always attend these ceremonies to promote the culture," said Hamad Al Rahoumi, FNC member from Dubai. "We encourage mass weddings for our youths to avoid lavish wasteful ceremonies. In many individual weddings, people spend a lot of money on lavish parties just to show off."
He noted that the FNC members had earlier advised the government to increase support for mass weddings to encourage more youths to tie knots. "Young Emiratis should take a lesson from the three sons of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who held a mass wedding. Weddings are not all about organising lavish parties. They should be simple and held to support social moorings," said Al Rahoumi.
The FNC member noted that mass weddings should be turned into a social behaviour accepted and appreciated by all because of its values and role in enhancing social ties.
Rising wedding costs
According to Al Rahoumi, the phenomenon of organising separate or individual and expensive wedding ceremonies began in the 80s when people's incomes had increased.
"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 initiative of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the GWU, of organising the first mass wedding in Abu Dhabi that includes non-citizens. "It shows 'her generosity and the desire to see that everyone is happy'."
Emirati Khalid Hussein, 30, who had tied a knot at a mass wedding, said the costs of wedding services can be a huge burden on a newly-wed couple. "Sometimes it takes years for some couples to pay off the debts, and it has been the reason why many marriages have led to divorce," said Hussein. "For us, we tied the knot at a mass wedding with lesser costs and we are living a happy marriage."