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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Weddings in UAE - customes

As a tradition in the UAE, the setting of the wedding date marks

the beginning of the bride’s preparation for her wedding.

Although the groom is also put through a series of preparations, the bride’s preparations are naturally more elaborate and time consuming.

In preparation for her wedding, she is anointed with all sorts of traditional

oils and perfumes from head to toe.

Her body is rubbed with cleansing and conditioning oils and creams,

the hands and feet are decorated with henna and the hair is washed

with extracts of amber and jasmine.

She is fed only the best of foods and her girlfriends prepare the best

dishes which they share with her. Traditionally, she is not seen for forty

days except for family members as she rests at home in preparation for her

wedding day.

Fine pieces of jewelry, perfumes, silk materials, and other necessary items

are presented to her by the groom, from which she creates her elaborate

trousseau called Addahbia.

The festivities usually take about one week before the wedding night.

During that week, traditional music, continuous singing, and dancing

take place reflecting the joy shared by the bride’s and the groom’s family. Nowadays, although most weddings are celebrated in less than one week,

they are just as elaborate and ceremonial, if not more.

A few days before the wedding night is the henna night or Laylat Al Henna

which is a very special night for the bride since it is a ladies’ night only.

On this night, the bride’s hands and feet are decorated with henna,

which is a dark brown paste made from the henna plant. When left on the

skin for some time, the henna leaves a dark red stain.

The henna night is a time for all the bride’s sisters, female family members,

and girlfriends to get together and sing and dance.

All female family members and guests also decorate their hands with henna.

The henna is not used for decorative purposes only but it serves also as a

hair and skin conditioner as well as a medicament for some wounds,

when mixed with special ingredients.

Another traditional element of the UAE customs is the Arabian Kohl or

eyeliner. The bride, as well as many other UAE women, like to line their

eyes on almost all occasions. Famous for their beautiful, large, and black


the UAE women have used the Arabian kohl for many years.

Taken from a black stone known as Al Athmed which is brought from

Saudi Arabia, the kohl is prepared through different methods and stages.

First, the stone is heated until it disintegrates and then it is processed in

water and Arabian coffee or sometimes henna leaves (depending on the

method used) and it is left for forty days to process. Finally, it is ground


a fine powder and it is ready to be used as an eyeliner for the eyes.

Used by women of all ages, the Arabian eyeliner is also known to be


for the eyes.

After her eyes are lined, her hair is perfumed and her hands and feet

are decorated with henna, the bride is ready for her wedding night.

The back-to-back feasts and celebrations involve both men and women

who usually celebrate separately. Although different areas of the country

may have slightly differences in their celebrations and customs, the general traditions are the same throughout the country most of which are still

adhered to.

In 1992, under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin

Sultan Al Nahyan, a Marriage Fund has been set up in order

to limit over-spending on weddings and celebrations.

The fund was aimed at encouraging the Emirati men to marry Emirati

women, assisting in covering the expenses of both the wedding

and the setting-up of a family, increasing the birth rate,

and discouraging men from marrying foreigners.

The Fund provides between Dh 60,000 to Dh 70,000 depending

on certain criteria to young UAE nationals. In tandem with this,

the government has launched a campaign aimed at persuading

UAE fathers to accept lower dowries.

It has also built special wedding halls where receptions can take

place without incurring the expenses associated with expensive

hotel receptions.

Under the directives and instructions from President His Highness

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan to curb soaring wedding expenses

which burden the youth, the UAE’s Cabinet, on the 29th of September,

1997 approved a letter from the Justice and Islamic Affairs Minister

outlining a draft law defining dowries, the money paid by a groom

to his bride, under Islamic Law, at Dh 20,000,

divorce compensation at Dh 30,000, and wedding parties should not

exceed one day.

Nowadays the average cost of a wedding in the UAE now stands

at Dh300,000, according to a leading exhibition company.

The survey carried out at this year's Bride Show Dubai shows that

43 per cent of respondents who were planning a wedding

proposed to spend more than Dh100,000 on their nuptials with

12 per cent planning to shell out Dh500,000 or more.


Aalia said...

Hmm, very interesting!!

I didn't do ANY of those traditions (would have done the henna!!) because we got married outside of UAE... None of our family were present (although my husband's mother did want us to fly to Egypt but I didn't have a passport at the time!!) but it was a luvly small celebration, alhamdulillah <3

MuSLiMa FlOwEr said...

mmmmmm similar to egyptian traditions! I LOVE the idea of henna although id only have it on my bak and my chest, hehehehehehe

♥ Arab Mania ♥ said...

That's right the traditions differ from country to country. What i love so much in emaraati local weddings is that almost 80% of locals wanna have a luxury wedding, kept in some quite expansive hotels or special places destinated to weddings or parties.
Companies they will take care of everything,offering to the bride & groom family less stress in planning out the wedding and arrangements.

Nailz-In-Aus said...


desertmonsoon said...

Very nice and informative blog Arab Mania :)

The luxury wedding is nice for those who can afford it, however i think it puts a lot of pressure on people who can't afford it since it is becoming the norm.

I am going to get to go to my first local wedding (god willing) this october. Actually I went to this first part already - the final step - the big party before the bride goes to live with her husband will be this october - I am really excited but I don't have a clue what to wear!

Are you from the UAE yourself?

Anonymous said...

ahhh sounds so cool... i hate how in Canada they just do mixed weddings.... :( it would be nice if it was only ladies

Bradly Jones said...

Lovely blog. Travelling has always been my passion and dream especially fashion. Although I am a big fan of the UAE, I feel out-dated when reading interesting posts like this.

cheap calls to uae

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