Cash-strapped Jordanians who have been engaged for years will be among 70 couples finally to tie the knot Friday at a mass wedding organized by a charity in the Jordanian capital.
The wedding will be the largest of its kind since the first such ceremony organized by the Al-Afaf Charity in 1995 brought together four couples for a collective wedding, followed by a further 48 couples in 1999.
"The fact that the number of Jordanians taking part in mass weddings is increasing each year shows how popular these wedding ceremonies are," Al-Afaf director Mufid Sarhan told AFP.
Al-Afaf, which means "chastity" in Arabic, is linked to Jordan's opposition Islamic Action Front, whose secretary general Abdel Latif Arabiyat is the charity's president.
It is the only group to organize mass weddings in Jordan, where couples tying the knot are caught in a vicious circle to outdo each other in lavish and costly events, usually held in banquet halls or five star hotels.
Such ceremonies, dictated by social demands, cost upwards of 1,000 dinars (1,400 dollars), and are a far cry from the traditional Islamic wedding, which obliges the groom to pay the bride a dowry, that can be of symbolic value only.
Weddings organized by Al-Afaf seek to offer cash-strapped couples a hand to get started without the trappings of costly weddings, Sarhan said.
Businessmen or bankers pay the wedding fees while Al-Afaf buys the bride and groom gifts such as household utensils and other basic needs and gives them no-interest loans, he said.
"Our aim is to encourage they young people to get married rather than fall prey to sin," he said.
He stressed that "many of the 70 couples who will get married on Friday have been engaged for years but could not join in matrimony because of the staggering costs of weddings."
Low salaries and high unemployment plague Jordan where, according to unofficial estimates, one fifth of the workforce is on the dole.
Among the couples who will get married on Friday are school teachers and factory workers who come from the four corners of Jordan, where monthly wages are set at 150 dinars (210 dollars) in average - AMMAN (AFP)
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