Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- Thirty-nine percent of couples who tie the knot in mass weddings in Saudi Arabia later divorce, according to Ihasn al Tayeb, head of the department for social affairs. He attributed this to a number of reasons, including the public nature of a mass wedding and the couple’s lack of awareness and understanding about this type of wedding, as husbands might feel embarrassed in front of their prospective wives. In addition, al Tayeb said, couples might have bad memories of their wedding night and this will interfere in their life together.
The Saudi official spoke to Asharq al Awsat on Sunday and said mass weddings in the Kingdom, which are widespread in Jeddah, were transformed into publicity events by certain charitable organizations, thereby affecting the couples’ relationships.
He noted that the assistance given to couples re-affirmed the idea that the husband was incapable of funding his own home in the minds of his friends and wife to be. This could create stress and force the husband to divorce his wife to eliminate the shame associated with a charity-supported mass wedding.
Young men in Saudi Arabia must learn to depend on themselves and establish a home for their wife using their own initiative and resources, al Tayeb added. Charities should provide assistance to future husbands discretely and without arousing their partner’s suspicion.
“Five mass weddings took place in Jeddah last year. 61% of the marriages have succeeded. We are highlighting the negative aspects of mass weddings so as to teach the young what is required for a successful marriage.”
The official blamed the spread of mass weddings in Saudi Arabia on the social and economic obstacles that young men and women have to overcome in order to get married. He singled out the brides’ families for putting pressure on their future husbands and making several sometimes-unattainable demands.
A study by the Saudi ministry of planning revealed a rise in the number of single men and women in the Kingdom. It indicated that more than a million and 52 thousand women of marriage age were single. In Mecca alone 396,000 girls had not married while 32,000 in Riyadh remained single.