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Posts Tagged ‘Engagement’

Many wonder, how are weddings in Oman. If you are a male foreigner.. then you’d have a hard time finding out since men “in general” are not included in weddings as much as women.

However, there are two general kinds of marriages in Oman: the Traditional & the Modern.

Traditional Wedding:

This wedding includes men and women. They are in separate places however. Traditional weddings are usually in the inner parts of Oman where people like to keep practicing them. It is also a lot cheaper than modern weddings because it takes place in both “the bride and the groom’s” houses.

Before I start talking about what happens, I would like to explain the concept of a traditional wedding. The wedding takes place in two houses. Then, the groom goes with all his family and friends on buses to pick up a bride. The girls go in to see the bride and greet. They pick up the girl and put her in the groom’s car. Then all of her family come along on buses to drop her off at his house. Once she is there.. greetings are due, then wedding is over…. simple and short.

Now for the extended version!

As I explained before, both families have a celebration of their own. People from around the neighborhood come a long to chat and eat. Some get a sneak peak of he bride, but traditionally you do not get to see her. I think traditionally she is too freaked out to meet anyone!

Before the westernization of weddings and introducing the white dress, women usually wore an Omani traditional dress that is heavily embroidered and I think it is red in color. I am not sure if it is specifically red. Anyway, she would wear her gold, and even though it is her wedding, she still wears a scarf and covers according to Islam.

Now, what happens after that is simple..

In both houses, the women would sit inside the house on floor mats. The men would sit outside in an open area in floor mats too. There would be about over 400 people that would come. Half of them come for the food, and the other half come for social duty. They all sit, and the rice with meat comes out. They eat and feed their kids. Then, the traditions Halwa comes out with fruits and coffee. They all drink and eat.

During this time, family members are serving the food and the sisters of the bride and groom are all dancing (remember in separate houses). After they eat, people who came for food only will leave at this point (with their 20 kids). The rest stay to get on the buses.

Getting on the buses requires a lot of work. If you are a young girl, you wouldn’t want to be sitting with the older lady’s because they are boring and wont let you sing and dance away in the bus. If you are an old woman, you would want to sit next to young girls to feel young and to make sure they are behaving, which they don’t want to do.

After people are on buses (between 3 to 5 buses), and others are in cars, ALL drive behind the groom’s car with danger signals on. So, the haunking begins and the loud music too. Everyone is singing and making noise.

They arrive at the brides house. They are greeted. Some women might stop and eat, others are in a hurry to leave. Once they get the bride in the grooms car (always a hassle), then people from the other family start organizing themselves and getting into their buses. Sometimes the groom would start driving so the women would hurry up. Ohh.. Most of the people that go to the brides house are women. Men are only escorts and you only need one or two in each car.

So, they drive back. Here, the bride’s and the groom’s family in the buses try to beat each other into being behind the car that has the bride and groom. They are trying to prove who is better!

Once they get at the groom’s house, they go into a room where there are chairs. The bride and groom sit next to each other and pictures start to be taking. More pictures then more then more. Then, the groom escorts his bride to his bedroom with everyone behind them. He gets her in, they shut the door…. and everyone leaves. At this time all leave, and some linger around to gossip at other women.

The end!

If you wonder what girls wear.. well, some wear Omani traditional dresses, and others wear prom dresses (usually very young girls). Women don’t really reveal their hair and arms..etc because men in these wedding can go inside the house to get food for men guests. So, women keep covered..

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First of all, and before I get into the technicalities of dowry, I would like to state that in Oman and all Arabic countries a dowry is and ONLY from a Man to a Woman.

I do know that dowry from a woman to a man happens in most eastern countries, such as India, but Islamic Law states that only a man gives a woman dowry, which does not have to be money by the way.

I’m stating this because I get many questions from people asking if a woman can give a man dowry,,,, etc.

Dowry: it is money, goods, or estate that a man gives to his soon to be bride. This money, by Islamic law, should go to the woman and not her parents of family. Only for her own private usage. In Oman, there are families that take their daughter’s dowry in excuse that it is nothing compared to what they had to pay in raising her up. This is against Islamic law. Also, in Islam there is a prophet’s saying which encourages families to not ask for a lot in dowry. Of course, as with many issues in the Middle East, people don’t really follow everything in the Qura’n or the prophet’s sayings.

The dowry is usually given to the girl either right before or during her engagement day (see my previous post). Usually they write the amount of dowry in the marriage certificate, which again they apply for after the engagement ceremony. Further, sometimes the dowry is a combination of money and gold to the bride, other times the money is the dowry and the gold are extra gifts..aka extra expenses.

Major Issue in Oman: Dowry has been a major issue in Oman because many families ask for too much. The law states that dowry should not exceed R.O. 5000 (around $12,000). However, many families request for beyond even $20,000, which is a disadvantage to all those Omani men that receive less than R.O. 500 ($1200) a month. Many young men cannot afford the high prices, and many prefer being single or buying a new car (cheaper than getting a wife!). Usually, the parents who ask a lot for dowry are those who take it and give only a portion of it to the girl, which is again illegal.

The problem is not in paying for a dowry only because wedding expenses in Oman are high too, especially if the parents request it to be in a ball room. It would in average cost around $20,000. Plus, the male is responsible for providing a house/apartment for the his new family and it is almost a costume in Oman for women to “pop out” babies during their first year of marriage.

If you ask many Omani men why they are still bacholers, they would probably say… we cannot afford getting married!

The solution is simple…. people need to be a bit humble!

So you ask, what does a woman do with all that money? simple, she buys clothes and jewelry as marriage preparation. A lot of times, a girl would replace every single item in her wardrobe. Yep! that extreme. Sometimes though, she buys kitchen appliances… This sometimes depends on the financial status of the girl, because if she works, she may chose to participate in the wedding preparation.

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In the Mosque:

Marriage rituals in Oman are different from one city or provenance from another. It is also different between the racial ethnicities in Oman. However, traditional engagements (or Malka) in Oman are binding agreements for marriage. If the two seperate, then it is a divorce. Here, a man can woe his wife anytime he wants, but traditionally they should wait until the wedding night.

In general, I refer to engagements as a celebration for the men. Women are seldom included in the ritual itself – they participate by cooking the food :p – because it takes place in a mosque with the presence of the male relatives of both parties except for the girl’s father.. which I will explain later.

So, the first thing is that the groom will wake up, go fix himself and look good. He will wear a traditional Omani dress with the khanjar “dagger”. In brief.. he will look groomed and well put together..a manly man who is worthy of the bride…

All men will gather at a mosque, half of which came just for the feast, they will all sit down circling the main prayer room and the groom, his father, the Imam, and a representative of the girl will all sit next to each other. Now, in some traditions, the bride’s father does not attend her engagement ceremony because that shows his sadness to give his daughter away… I honestly think he is glad to get rid of one mouth to feed in the house…

The girl’s representitive then might be her uncle or her brother.. now, all I know here is that the Imam talks and they exchange agreements of marriage and then the Imam reads from the Quran and its done… if you want more detail here, ask a guy…then the groom is happy, and his friends start beating him up in the back with their slippers – some traditions – to see how strong he is. The guy should not complain or scream because that would show weakness.. yes, it does sound like the stone age fights. Then they all gather to eat.

In some parts of Oman, the Malka ends here, in others it continues…. The second part is called “Talbees debal” or exchanging of wedding rings.

At the Bride’s House:

During this time, the bride and her female relatives are preparing for the grooms arrival. Sometimes however, the grooms does not have to visit the bride in the same day. They might just book the two events in different days. Anyway, the bride gets ready. Here, she can wear whatever she wants. Sometimes, she wears a very revealing dress, and other times she wears the female traditional dress. Depends on how conservative the family is, or just on the theme !

Usually, this part of the engagement is either simple with the presence of the bride’s sisters and their mother or with female relatives too. depends on how close they are..

Here, the groom brings his mother and his sisters to the bride’s house. They all sit down and great each other. The bride walks in, looking all pretty and shy, and the groom is taken back in awe!

They sit next to each other and talk, they will look extremely uncomfortable because all eyes are on them. Then, the groom will bring out the wedding ring he got for the bride. Usually, wedding rings in Oman look like wedding bands in the west and not with the center diamond stone, I mean the wedding bands that are accented with carats of diamond, not plain ones, at least not any more as it was in the past..

Then they take picture.. look happy and cute… eat.. secretly want to hold hands, and he secretly wants to sleep with her right away.. !

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Today I passed by Sablat Oman (Arabic version) and found this discussion on marriage.
It was titled: “Single because of my family, discussion”

I started reading it, and to be honest… I’m furious!

The United Nation: International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination stated on 2006:

The Committee takes note of the discrepancy between the State party’s assertion that Omani society is ethnically homogeneous, and information that the population includes various ethnic groups, including Balochi, Swahili-speaking Omanis born in Zanzibar and other regions of East Africa, Liwatiyah and Jibalis, as well as a large number of migrant workers from the Indian subcontinent, the Philippines and other Asian countries.

Omani society is not ethnically homogeneous. People don’t act as such either! If you read my posts on racial classes in Oman you will understand what I’m talking about!
At least 70% of all Omanis are racists! its a fact! Racial discrimination is widely practiced. The problem is that when foreigners visit the country, they are met with this colorful fake facade that every one in Oman is equal. No matter what your background is… Guess what!!! THEY ARE LYING!
Yes, I’m pissed…

Let me tell you about this post that pushed my buttons:

A girl was complaining that her family is disapproving many good proposals for her marriage because there is something wrong in the guy’s lineage. The usual excuses the family gives is that: “We don’t know these people”, “They are not well known”, and “Not from our status”. It doesn’t matter whether the girl desires the guy or not! what matters is their honor does not get scratched by good men!
Then she complains that a guy from her family proposed. He is not suitable for her as a husband, but the family says yes because “At least we know him” or “He is from the family”!

STUPID… thats all I have to say!

I’ll give you some responses this girl got:

The thing is, you can’t change a guy’s lineage history, but you can change his attitude and make him become a better person.

First of all, that’s stupid. You don’t toss a poor girl on a bad guy hoping she would change him. Second of all, you people have too much faith in these men! None of my male relatives changed “for the better” after marriage. They still screw prostitutes and drive drunk..etc.

Of course lineage history is important. If people intermarry without precautions, you would end up with a generation of pictures like those of black and while.

What is more racist than this! Seriously!

And what’s with this response:

Girls, you need not to force marriage. You will get married when its written for you.

My comment: A city was flooded. A boat came by a man’s house and asked him to hop on, he said “no, I’m waiting for God, He will save me”. A while later, another boat came by, “no, I’m waiting for God, He will save me”. The third came by and the same response. The man died and when he faced God he said: “You didn’t rescue me”, God replied: “What are you talking about, I sent you three boats”….

Last, I just want to say I am very proud of those girls and “small percentage of guys” that responded against these thoughts. It certainly gives me hope that things will change for the better!

Discussion in Sablat Oman: http://www.omania2.net/avb/showthread.php?t=412551

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As requested, today I will talk about the conditions of a non-Omani marrying an Omani. I know there are many people who want to marry Omanis and have endless questions about the conditions. I hope this will be a guide to help those with good intentions to be able to marry the ones they love.

First, I will state the Islamic laws that pertain this specific subject:
If you are a non-Omani and want to marry a:
Male: You have to be either Muslim, Christian, or a Jew.
If you are a non-Muslim, you need to accept the fact that your children will grow up to be Muslims. If the person you want to marry tells you otherwise, then believe me… he will change his mind after the baby is born. This does not mean the children are banned from attending any non-Muslim activities with the mother and her family. However, it depends on the parents’ agreement.
Female: You have to be a Muslim.
Here, I have seen Muslim females marry non-Muslim males. It really depends on the cultural background of the girl. If she is from a conservative family, then forget it. You have to be a Muslim. Usually, children follow their father’s religion, which is the main reason for this inflexibility for Muslim females.

Other than that, Islam does not care where you are from or what ancestry background you have. Islam, actually, encourages marriage from all different places. The other requirements for getting married in Islam are the regular: faithful, good manners, respectful, …etc. If you want to know more you can google it.
In reality, Islam is so easy when it comes to marriage from non-Arabs. Complications are usually from the laws and culture.

Second, I will state the Omani civil laws that pertain this specific subject:

1- That the parties should seek a marriage permit from the Interior Ministry and the conditions for approval are as follows:
a. There are medical or social conditions that require a marriage of a non-Omani. (Yes people, you get to marry the defective ones!)
b. The non-Omani who is seeking this permission should have the financial ability to marry and care for their spouse.
c. The Omani may not be married to an Omani female while seeking this permit, unless she is unable to meet her martial requirements. (I don’t know. I guess it means if she can’t bare children)

2- A committee is formed to review the request. The committee will consist of:
a. Two people from the Interior Ministry, in which one is the head of the committee.
b. One person from the Ministry of Social Development.
c. One person from the Omani Royal Police.
The committee then sends a report to the Interior Minister to give the proper decision.

3- The following instances are exempt from the first and second law:
First, Omanis can marry non-Omani’s after permission from the Interior Minister in the following conditions:
a. If the non-Omani is from the Gulf countries.
b. If the non-Omani is the son of an Omani female that has lived in Oman for 18 years. (Women do not pass their citizinship to their children in Oman)
c. If the Omani female who is seeking the permit is divorced or widowed with children. (this is just too much!)
Second, the Interior Ministry can issue a permit for marrying non-Omanis in the following conditions:
a. If the person seeking marriage lives in borders of the country, and wants to marry someones from the neighbouring country. (I think this applies for Yemen because it is not considered a Gulf country)
b. If the person seeking marriage is an Omani through naturalization. (If they have the citizenship, why would they need a permit!!?)

4- Consequences for not following the proper procedure:
a. A fine that is no more than 2000 Omani Rials.
b. You cannot enter your spouse in the country.
c. You will not be employed. (I don’t know if private sector is included or if it is just goverment employment)

Source: http://www.moj.gov.om/

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