The Business of Marriage

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.  ~Barnett R. Brickner

bride The blessed union of marriage, in many parts of the Middle East, has morphed into a whole other beast that is only a fraction of what it was around twenty years ago. These days, a fetching bride often carries an exorbitant price tag that few men can bear. Granted, just as thoroughbred horses have various degrees of worth, so too do brides carry their own value based on familial ties and wealth.

Kuwait, in particular, has seen an upswing in “spinster” females over recent years with Kuwaiti males often choosing to marry non-Kuwaitis for the sake of saving a king’s ransom in dowry. The bride’s parents are typically staunch in requesting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the groom for their daughter’s hand in holy matrimony. As a result of many grooms refusing to be “fleeced”, many Kuwaiti women are left with only two choices – to either marry a non-Kuwaiti or spend their lives unmarried.

In a bid to create incentives for Kuwaiti males to marry their female compatriots, a Kuwait parliamentarian recently proposed doubling the allotment that Kuwait men receive upon getting married. Kuwaiti grooms already receive more than $13,000 upon tying the knot with any bride of his choosing. However, the newly proposed governmental marital grant system recommends doubling that amount if the bride is also a Kuwaiti.

Under the new proposal, a Kuwaiti man can receive more than $27,000 if he marries a Kuwaiti woman. He can also choose to marry up to four Kuwaiti wives, which is in accordance with Islam, and receive the same amount of money per marriage. With over $100,000 cash up for grabs, and if the proposal is actually passed into law, a Kuwaiti man stands to profit exponentially from getting hitched.

The parliamentarian does have his heart in the right place in seeking to help Kuwaiti women get married and start families of their own. However, any time financial gain and even the possibility of love are mixed the result just might prove disastrous. With a divorce rate in Kuwait teetering at more than 50%, throwing a wad of cold hard cash at the problem may not be the right solution. Perhaps pre-marital counseling between couples or a governmental cap on dowries to make them more reasonable could best ensure all Kuwaiti women have a chance to walk down the aisle. 


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