One of the demands posed by demonstrators during the “Arab Spring” in Oman was to create a fund to help Omani men finance the lavish weddings and high dowries which are expected by the bride and her family.
Shura Council Offers Partial Solution
The parliamentary-like body in Oman known as the Shura Council has offered to create a “Marriage Support Fund” which will distribute interest-free loans to those that cannot afford the cost of a wedding and dowry. There is also a plan to offer counseling and advice which will help to encourage the couples to spend less on their weddings and bring the bride-prices down.
One demonstrator, Abdullah Alabri, 27 explained the painful situation for Omani men.
“We have reached a stage where we cannot get married. We kept competing with our peers and now we are begging the government for help.”
Interest Free Loans
Couples making less than 500 rials per month will be eligible to apply for the 4,000 rial loans. This amount however will probably not do too much to alleviate the overall cost of marriage for most people.
Lower Dowry Prices Needed
A wedding in Oman can cost upwards of 30,000 rials, with large numbers of guests, luxuries venues and sumptuous meals. A dowry can cost an additional 15,000 rials, while deeply inside Oman the dowry can cost as much as 30,000 rials. The bride-price is set by the woman’s parents with the bride having little to say about it, in general.
“High dowries are demanded in the interior cities such as Buraimi and Ibri due to existing tribal ideas and social pressure,” said Abdul Jalil, an Omani who works at a petroleum company.
“A low dowry arouses suspicion that something is ‘wrong’ with the girl, making higher dowries a matter of pride,” he added.