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It should be noted that weddings in the United Arab Emirates have always been guided by Islamic laws and values. Nevertheless, some traditional Arab wedding practices and customs associated with this crucial event have significantly changed throughout the years, and some of them have been abandoned. The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the traditional wedding in the UAE culture as applied to the olden days and modernity.
A major change that occurred in the way weddings are held at present is the scale of the event. In the olden days, families would traditionally invite people from the neighborhood to share the celebration with them. The residents of the neighborhood participated in preparation for the fest actively and provided their assistance when needed. This way, the entire district could be present at the wedding; however, these days, the tendency has changed, and families prefer inviting only relatives and friends (Hurriez, 2013). Further on, another abandoned tradition is the use of a black goatskin tent under which the event was held. This tradition is no longer observed given the fact that the goatskin tent is indeed expensive. Also, old weddings were quite lengthy and could go on for days. Before the feast, the bride was hidden for 40 days and would see the groom at the conclusion of the ceremony. This custom emphasized the spiritual nature of the Arab wedding and also stressed that the marriage occurred not only between two people but between their families in the first place.
Apart from that, it is important to discuss some of the traditional aspects of the ceremony that have been abandoned due to the general internationalization of the population and a certain shift towards Western culture. At a traditional Bedouin wedding, Al-Ayyala would perform music to please the family of the bride, and the al Sheba would be delivered to the wife-to-be (Hurriez, 2013). At the event, men would perform Al Radha or dance altogether (Bristol-Rhys, 2010). At present days, these traditions are rarely observed, and families prefer having a classic Western ceremony during which the bride and the groom exchange rings and the relatives of the two people congratulate them on this significant occasion. Another crucial distinction between the old and contemporary wedding is the fact that men and women may be seated together. In the olden days, it was a tradition for males and females to be arranged to sit separately; however, this rule is easily rejected these days.
Thus, it can be concluded that the traditional wedding in the UAE culture has significantly changed in modernity. The bride and the groom may celebrate the event with their immediate family and close friends and abandon some customs such as the arrangement of guests and performing Al Radha. Some of the changes are linked to the Westernization of the population, while some of them are associated with expenditures. Nonetheless, such fundamental aspects as spirituality and Islamic values remain untouched throughout the years.
Bristol-Rhys, J. (2010). Emirati women: Generations of change. London, England: Hurst Publishers.
Hurriez, S. H. (2013). Folklore and folklife in the United Arab Emirates. New York, NY: RoutledgeCurzon.