Expensive weddings are a headache for plenty of grooms, but in the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar, it’s the reason many are forgoing marriage altogether.
Fewer people are tying the knot in the tiny nation, where one in four women of marriageable age is unable to find a partner, according to recent statistics. A report by the Population and Social Statistics Department says the “high cost of marriage” is partially to blame.
Wedding ceremonies in Qatar are separate for men and women, with men generally footing the bill for both. The price of renting a banquet hall ranges from $19,000 to $42,000, and that is typically topped off with a dowry and all the usual entertaining expenses. One soon-to-be-divorced man told Al Jazeera he saved up for nine years for his $125,000 celebration.
Small weddings are less of an option in the tight-knit region; couples send out mass invitations to avoid excluding acquaintances. To tackle the problem, an organization called Qatar Charity has rolled out a program through which it gives newlyweds financial assistance and the use of complimentary wedding tents. Four months ago, Crown Prince Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani ordered the construction of five wedding halls, also to be available free of charge.
Wedding costs are more reasonable in neighbouring countries such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, but the general sentiment remains the same throughout the area. A 2012 survey by the United Arab Emirates Marriage Fund found that 87 per cent of respondents blamed unaffordability for the decline in nuptials. The fund, a government initiative started in 1992 to encourage marriage among nationals, doled out $3.3 million to citizens last year and organized group weddings for 224 grooms.