Saturday, May 16, 2015


This week I received an invite to a wedding. As typical for weddings in this part of the world I was told about it with little notice, in this case 2 days in advance. I’ve been here long enough that I wasn’t surprised in the least.

My invite was a text from a mutual friend that there was a wedding on Friday and we were invited. Again a ‘casual’ invitation like this is fairly standard, men’s wedding are open to almost all men to attend so formal invitations are typically given to relatives, friends, and maybe some co-workers. As it was a friend’s brother that was getting married, and I had never met the groom before, there’s no reason why I would receive a formal wedding invitation.

So on Friday evening we were off to the wedding tent.

This wedding had some differences from a typical Qatari wedding as the groom was only half-Qatari, his father was from North Africa, so the wedding was a blend of some Gulf Arab customs and customs from other areas. For example the groom wore a suit, not a white thobe and bisht. I’d never seen his brother wear a thobe either so I was expecting that. For entertainment a Qatari wedding would typically have drums and a group of Arabic singers, with guests occasionally sword dancing. At this wedding the music was from a DJ and the guests themselves were dancing in a circle, something I’ve never seen at a Gulf wedding before.

Dinner was the traditional lamb on rice. Typically we would all sit on the floor to eat (unless the wedding was at a hotel) but at this wedding there were tables for all of the guests to sit at rather than sitting on the floor, again something I’d never seen at a wedding in a tent. The tables were bigger than the platter so guests mostly stood anyway to eat. As per custom there was no cutlery, you were expected to eat with your hand (as in your right hand, never touch communal food with your left hand).

After dinner we hung around for a while longer chatting with friends before heading out. I’m guessing that the groom would be leaving around 11pm to go to where the ladies wedding party was to pick up his wife. Having separate men’s and ladies parties is standard in the Gulf but I spoke to an Algerian friend who told me in North African countries separate parties is also common if you’re having a large number of people over to celebrate.

Best wishes to the groom and his new bride!

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