Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Qatari wedding update (Arab wedding)

So I had a chat with my friend about marriage contracts and what typically went in them. Without going into details about what is in his marriage contract he did say that typically Qatari marriage contracts will have clauses about the following:

• How much money/jewelry/other things she receives (we might refer to this as a dowry but I believe it is actually called Mahr in Arabic)
• Whether she is allowed to work
• Whether she is allowed to drive (?! This might be the Saudi influence here since in Saudi Arabia women aren't allowed to drive)
• Whether they will have their own home
• Possibly who is responsible for paying for the wedding, this is typically the groom and his family anyway but I was told that nowadays some families split the costs, or the bride's family will pay for the bride's celebration. Weddings are expensive.

My friend did clarify there will be some things you won't see in the contract:

• How many children they will have. (I guess you get as many as Allah gives you)
• Whether he can have more than one wife. The Qur'an allows a man to have four wives so you cannot exclude that right.

I find the pragmatism of the marriage contract to be very interesting. While in the West we will say wedding vows full of more nebulous promises here in Qatar a marriage is a contractual obligation, complete with specific requirements that need to be adhered to. I'm assuming that the bride can petition for divorce for breach of contract should her husband not meet any of the conditions.


In other news I got my passport renewed today. This was a bit more challenging than you might think.

Canada does not have an embassy in Qatar. I've heard they will be opening one soon but to date nada. So I have to use the nearest embassy, which is in Kuwait. Needless to say it is a bit problematic to fly over there just to drop off some passport documentation. But if you mail everything how do you pay the embassy?

The embassy helpfully told me about a service that most couriers do called “Visa Pak”. The courier will take your stuff to the embassy, pay the embassy fees, then bring your stuff back to you when the embassy has issued your new passport and you reimburse the courier for the costs. Can't argue with that.

Well, I could have once I figured out how much the bloody thing would cost. I went to the courier today to get my shiny new passport and the courier charged me QR 500 on top of the passport fees. That’s US$140! To courier an old passport and a three-page application! For an extra hundred bucks I could have flown to Kuwait myself and at least gotten a trip out of it (well, maybe not, I've had to make two trips to drop off and pick up the passport). Still, I think a $140 is a bit steep.

Anyway, I have a new passport issued from Kuwait City, which should guarantee me "random selection" at most Western airports.

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's dang hot!

I guess I haven't mentioned yet that summer is here and man is it hot! According to the papers this summer looks like it's going to break records. Last week Qatar was above 50°, and one area hit about 55° (that's about 130°F for those of you who aren't used to Celsius).

Someone I know showed me a cell phone picture that they took of the dashboard of their car. Apparently he had left his car outside in the sun during one of those 50+ degree days and the dashboard had a thermometer in it. The dashboard showed that the car was 60°C inside! Pretty wild.

I did not go outside much but even then my lips got chapped from the heat. I never had chapped lips so bad before and it was really annoying.

Unfortunately my next vacation is not until the end of August so looks like I'm stuck with the heat for another month. At least there is a pool nearby, with shade.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Qatar Wedding Update (Arab wedding)

An update on my friend's pending nuptials -- apparently the contract has been finalized and presented by the two families to the Court. The Court has accepted the contract so, technically, he is now married!

Similar to when he announced when he was getting married he didn't make a big deal about this part of the process. My understanding is that, culturally speaking, he is not married until the ceremony/celebrations are completed, which may still be a while -- I do not think they have finalized a date yet. Guess there is still time to back out if either party wants to cancel. For now he goes to his fiancĂ©e’s (wife’s?) house to chat with her and have dinner with her family. He is also preparing a place where they will live once they have the marriage ceremony. It is good to hear things are going well.

I've been wanting to ask him what exactly is in the contract but I’ve refrained from doing so to respect his privacy. Arabs are generally a private people and can get uncomfortable with questions about their personal life, including asking them about family members. If I'm not mistaken Arabs generally consider it impolite for a man to ask another man about women in his family. Generally you would just ask a man how his family is doing, rather than asking about specific members such as his mother, sister, daughter, wife etc. I'm sure asking about what is in their marriage contract qualifies as very personal information.

As for the contract I do know that the contract has in it that she can work if she wishes to because she currently has a job and he mentioned that she will continue to work there, but I do not know much else. Maybe I will just ask him to give me what details he's willing to share with me (and you as well, he knows I'm blogging about this).