Saturday, May 16, 2009

If my wife doesn't like the room, I'm moving to Japan..

Hi! I'm back again after several days break. I've been busy at work, and have promised myself that I will get a life and avoid using the computer at home. It's enough that I spend 8 hours a day working on it. I'll try to work on my blog during lunch break at work. I've taken up reading again (I used to read 3 or 4 pages a day before I went to bed at night due to my hectic schedule. Now I'm trying to make it 30 per day). There are so many good books out there. If I don't read at least 30 pages a day, imagine how much I'm going to miss out on in the world! Life is too short.
Hey, remember my post on April 27 about the witches who put a curse on a guy over the water spring? Well, the guy is STILL IN HIDING! People still think he's dead. Eek. I tried to get more information out of my colleagues but no such luck.
So, back to my topic for today, more marriage! It's the season in Salalah, since everyone gets married during June, July and August. So, the gossip these days is all about weddings. Before I start, I wish to inform you that 'no' I do not escape work very often to get coffee, but today I had to because I felt caffeine-deprived, and I cannot touch instant coffee. So, at around 11:30 this morning I decided to slip out of the office and drive over to Brownies (our one and only cafe) to pick up a double espresso to bring back to work. On my way out of Brownies, clutching my caffeine treasure, I heard someone calling me. I turned and it took me a few moments to recognize the face. It was Mohanned (name changed), a guy I knew very well in college. In fact, we were best friends for a while and used to play crossword puzzles together during a very very boring class (in fact, it was so boring that I can't even remember the subject). I haven't seen him for over four years. He left college early to go finish his studies in Lebanon, while I continued abroad. He couldn't handle the cold weather. We stayed in touch by text messages and email, but never actually met face to face again, until today. In Other countries, it's easy to have male friends from Oman because we all stick together and help each other out. In Salalah, it's different. After a few minutes of exchanging news, I noticed how tired he looks. I asked him if he was stressed. He confessed that he is getting married in three weeks. He was beginning to feel that marriage is more of a nightmare than blessing. The girl he is marrying is a distant cousin and a complete stranger. He has never met her before, and has never spoken to her. He has a vague idea of what she looks like. Furthermore, her family asked for a dowry of 10,000 Omani Rials. In addition to that, he has to provide a suite for them (he built a room, kitchen, living room, and bathroom suite next to his family's house), as well as her gold. He is also in charge of arranging the whole wedding (down to the very last flower). He has to purchase six cows for the wedding (each cow costs 400 Rials at least) to feed the hundreds of guests. The list of duties gets longer and longer. He was exhausted, depressed, and hadn't slept for weeks. He ended the conversation by saying 'If she doesn't appreciate all that I've done for her, I'm moving to Japan!", and we both walked back to our cars and said goodbye. I felt so bad for him. I know that this is what most young men go through when they get married in Salalah. They have to provide everything and go to great trouble to prepare for marriage. This is why many young people are choosing not to get married. They can't afford it (i.e. they can't afford a traditional wedding), and it's too risky because they don't want to marry someone they don't know, and end up with a girl they cannot love. I don't know how this situation is going to be resolved. Someone has to take the first step and break out of these useless traditions. It's so unfair. The only thing a girl has to do is receive her dowry, buy clothes and shoes and bags, and slather herself in lotions and whitening creams. Simple as that. Even if a girl works, the guy still has to buy everything for her, and she's not allowed to help with the wedding. Furthermore, everyone here seems to be in debt, so the family cannot support the young men with their weddings. Poor Mohanned; I wonder what he feels. Imagine the anticipation of starting a new life in 20 days with a person you don't know, don't love, and having to share the same bed with a complete stranger on your wedding night. It's AWFUL.
Guys, what do you think? Would you marry a girl you don't know? Do you agree with such traditions? What do guys want anyway?


  1. I dunno what to say here...It's really horrible!
    I really hate it and feel sorry for them. Where is knowledge, awareness, education when it come to such stupid traditions?

  2. Whether it is one cow or 4, whether 100,000 or 1,000, the fact of the matter is that most of marriages in this part of the world are too expensive for men.

    It is not about money, but principles and religion. The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) says that the lesser the expenses of marriage the more blessed it will be.

    So why should I spend more for an unblessed marriage?

    It is very unfortunate, men who can with the help of their parents do marry, but who wants to marry with his parents money?

    Men who can't marry or don't want to marry with his family money, end up suffering like this guy.

    Next time you see this guy, tell him pack your bag and head for Japan :p

  3. Poor chap. Perhaps he already left.
    I heard of one guy (here in Salalah!) who accepted a marriage proposal for his daughter and insisted the dowry should be 12 Rials only (as per Sunna).

    As for my friend in the end, the girl will suffer too because when the marriage finally happens, she meets a guy who basically hates her because he spent so much money and effort to get married, and she will feel guilty and they'll have a stressful life stuck with debts from a very young age.

    Furthermore, she doesn't work and doesn't have a college degree, so he'll end up supporting her too with all her demands and needs.

    Jeez. Better to stay unmarried and stick to flirting :-P

  4. Glad you are doing this blog. I spent 3 good years in Salalah teaching at DU. When I have left the country I will feel freer about posting my thoughts, but here is one: Omani guys can marry outside the country. Why can't Omani girls?

  5. If you were at DU for three years, then I probably know you very well. Omani girls can marry outside the country; however, they lose their Omani passport. It's a weird system. As for Omani guys; yes, they can marry outside Oman but the wife has a hard time obtaining a visa. I know an American woman married to an Omani (for 12 years) and only recently was she able to obtain a resident's visa. Before that, she had to leave the country every six months in order to renew her visa. It was very difficult.

  6. BTW, you are so right about instant coffee, it is an abomination!!

  7. It is a sad fate (instant coffee). Allow me to randomly quote Francis Bacon (as I tried to rephrase his quote to include instant coffee, but failed miserably).

    "It is a sad fate for a man to drink instant coffee, die too well known to everybody else, and still unknown to himself"

  8. hi nadia
    it is so amazing to have a girl like you in Oman, especially in conservative Salalah!!
    any way i think we are so behind(i hope it is english)in a way that we still have such habits. Regarding your issue:
    am not married yet(36) and i have not yet tried to get married but i'll not accept this way of marriage (arranged mariage...) eventhough my mother and brothers are trying to remid me that YOU are SHAIBAH

  9. It's ok to be SHAIBAH as long as you're happy and satisfied with your life. It's much better to be single than to be married to someone you don't really like :-)

  10. well, it doesn't always satisfying me to be alone!!
    Some people say it is the life and the human being desire etc. but as you said it is better to be alone than killing another person by a fake relation!!

  11. Remain positive. Good things happen when you least expect them.

  12. Brownies isn't the only cafe. There is an Cafe in the Istiqrar Hyper Center, never tried it but I passed by it a few times on my way to the perfume shop!

    Maybe the arranged marriage should be modernized a bit, in my family the girl is allowed to talk to her fiance on the phone after they get engaged, that allows them to get to know each other a little bit before committing to one another.

    Another tradition amongst the men is that you can choose to put a box in the tent the day of the Aqd or wedding and the attending men can sign their names and put money. This money will compensate with what the father of the groom paid. It doesn't happen always though

  13. Dhofari Chick, the cafe in the Istiqrar definitely exists but it's wide open and out there so difficult for Dhofari girls to sit there and relax. At least Browniz has a female section upstairs that is totally private. As for the arranged marriages, many many families still won't let the girls talk to the guy before the wedding, which is really really mean.
    As for the tradition of putting money, some people are too proud to accept it, like many people I know who say 'I don't need people's help!'... However, I think all the mountain tribes still do it. It's a good way for social support and to build a sense of community. My brother got married, paid 15 thousand rials for the wedding, and got 12 thousand on the wedding day back from the tribe!! Cool, huh? Every man pays about 20 rials.

  14. I had an arranged marriage, communicated with him for about 8 months before the *wedding*. Its very risky, though its risky too even if you know the guy. You don't know if someone would remain the same or change. Alhamdulilah, mine worked out fine, though I would like my daughters to know the guy first before getting married. I have heard about dowries being so much in the ME countries. Don't you guys have the *sanduk jawaz* set up by the government to help with the wedding?? But most of the those expenses(if not all) are uncalled for. It's just the competition thing going on to see who has the *biggest* wedding. Subhanallah, so much debt, hatred(as some pple have stated) and those marriages rarely start off in the right path. I would rather help them pay off any student loans and if I had enough, would give them $$$ to put it towards a down payment for a home. Sigh....sf

  15. SF - Al Hamdulillah that you're one of the people who lucked out with the arranged marriage. It used to work out a long time ago most of the time because people had simple views about marriage and were satisfied with very little (shelter, food, children, clothes, security). Nowdays, people demand more and more out of a relationship, especially women are now standing up for themselves and want to be appreciated, want to work, study, raise their kids differently, have privacy, etc, etc. This is why arranged marriages don't work out these days. Because if you've got certain opinions about marriage, it's best to discuss them with your partner before you decide to get married. AL Hamdulillah that you're happy. And no we don't have Sanduk Jawaz, sadly. I hear they have it in Saudi and the UAE?

  16. Yes, they do have it in other countries. I knew someone who had relatives in Muscat and she said that her relatives(male)were finding it really difficult to marry there, because of the high costs of dowry and other gifts to the girl.
    Yes, arranged marriages have changed/evolved. My great-grandmothers would get married without even being told that they were getting hitched!!!!:O
    Nowadays, people still go through the traditional yet modernized *arranged* method. Parents or someone would *suggest* someone and they would try to *hook* them up in a *halaal* way with permission from both sets of parents. Give them an opportunity to know each other(well, with cellphones and internet)I think there's a lot of communication going to go on if they don't live in the same neighbourhood/country. Whatever the case is, whether its through love, arranged or just choice, atleast both parties should have opportunities to get to know what the other person expects and wants out of the marriage. I think with girls getting more independent, educated and working, its a bonus to guys to live much better in this *costly* life,with the support of their wife, lol. Though I know some guys feel *intimidated* if the girl is educated, now that is their loss! sf

  17. I remember, as a cute expat girl of eighteen in Muscat, my Omani guy friends complaining about not being able to afford getting married. Five years later, only one out of six is married. The others are waiting for their forties, to marry an ex-pat woman who doen't need much, and doesn't have family to deal with. Some are serrious about waiting ten years for a girl. But even that doesn't guarantee she'll be right, now does it?

  18. An interesting read i must say. I too feel soo sorry for my brother in faith in salalah who have to slaughter themselfs to get married and in tow the family also get into debt..ahh what a headache it is. May Allah make deen strong in salalah and remove culture that causes hardship for all.Ameen.
    im all for culture that is easy going and that adheres to Quran + Sunnah but im soo against this marraige stuff of showing off/ trying to prove to others that your son is some high ranking dude when realy he is a normal officer worker.
    Im just wondering maybe you would know sis nadia, are there any islamic lessons for the mawatan about the fiqh of marriage and the manners of jalsa in salalah ? Its something im thinking of starting inshaAllah.