Stepping into a UAE wedding is like entering a realm of grandeur and elegance, where age-old customs are celebrated with zeal.

In this article we’ll introduce you to the intricacies of Emirati weddings, from the opulent rituals to the heartfelt traditions.

Recognizing the importance of these ceremonies in Emirati culture can help you appreciate and participate in these events, whether you’re a newcomer to the UAE or a longtime resident.

Let’s unravel the fascinating traditions and rituals that define an Emirati wedding!

Duration 

Since we already told you that Emirati people like lavish and elaborate functions, it comes as no surprise that they often last seven days or so. 

Most of these traditions date back several centuries when extensive functions were held, and there was a long period of festivities to make the union of a man and woman.

However, due to modern-day culture, outside influence, and changes in society, most of these traditions are being tweaked and modified as per convenience and other factors. 

Hence, you might need help to enjoy a completely traditional Emirati wedding. However, we will still do our best to provide you with a flavor of it through this blog! 

The Proposal 

The proposal holds a lot of importance in the traditional UAE wedding festivities. The groom will make his marriage intentions known to his mother first on the day of the proposal. The groom’s mother will then talk to the mother of the girl on his behalf. 

The mother of the groom will ask for the hand of the girl for marriage and not the groom itself, as it is considered disrespectful in Emirati culture.

If the marriage proposal is accepted, both the families of the groom and bride will sit down and solve any issues and troubles surrounding the marriage or the union of the couple.

This is also called the Al Koutha Ceremony. In this ceremony, the dowry is also decided, which is to the paid to the bride. 

In the gulf culture, this tradition holds a high value since, traditionally, Arabs are of the view that marriage is not just between a man and woman but rather is a union of two families.

Hence, they put a lot of emphasis on getting to know the family as well so that they can proceed with the wedding.

Also, in most Arab cultures, the meeting of a young man and woman who are not engaged or married is not permissible. Hence the families need to initiate the union on their behalf. 

Moreover, the bride’s father will also conduct a thorough background check on the potential groom. The sons, cousins, and brothers of the bride will conduct their own background checks and ask about the groom in any community events he attends and his local masjid before signing any wedding documents. 

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The Melcha 

The Melcha is the next step in the union of the new couple. This ceremony takes place in the groom’s house, where all the legal documents are signed in the presence of a Shaikh, who officiates the weddings.

This is a men-only ceremony, with male witnesses from both sides required. 

This ceremony will mark the beginning of another period, which is a few days or weeks long, where the families get better acquainted and resolve any disputes and plan the wedding.

This period will start from the signing of the document until the wedding party!

However, another essential thing to note is that during this time, the marriage will not be consummated, and hence, it is just an opportunity for both parties to interact with each other and build relations.

You will see that there will be elaborate functions and dinners from both sides. The groom will spend a lot of time with the male members of the bride’s family and the bride will spend time with the female members of the groom’s family. 

The Dazza 

The Dazza is a very ancient and traditional Arab tradition. The female members of the groom’s family will prepare the Dazza Chest.

This hope chest is a gift box for the bride. It is prepared by the close female relatives of the groom. 

In Arab culture, gifts are considered a very important and prominent sign of peace, love, and harmony.

Hence, gifting someone a chest with things like jewelry, clothes, perfumes, a prayer mat, Mehr, and Quran, speaks volumes. 

Oftentimes, vast amounts of money are splashed on building the dazza chest since it is considered a status symbol in the Arab community.

The groom’s female relatives leave no stone unturned when making the dazza chest.

Moreover, there is a particular trousseau garment, which is laced with expensive jewels and lace and is the crown gift of the dazza chest. 

The making of this chest is an elaborate affair and will also help the bride’s family understand the tastes and habits of the groom’s family through the dazza chest’s gifts. 

The Henna 

The Henna is a very elaborate function for the bride. It is organized by the bride’s side of women. Usually, her sisters, cousins, and her female relatives.

This night is called Laylatul Henna.

The female relatives usually bring a henna artist, who puts beautiful and thoughtful designs on the bride and makes her look beautiful. 

Usually, the bride wears a cream-colored dress called a jalabiya. This function is quite colorful and is enjoyed a lot through food, music, and dances.

Henna is thought to bring a lot of good luck and prosperity to the bride-to-be. Thus, the henna designs are very delicate and extensive.

The henna night is usually the night when the bride bonds with her female relatives and enjoys with them before she is to be wedded. 

The Wedding Day 

The wedding day is very well thought out, and hence it is an elaborate affair. Arab culture is a very social one, and hence it is common for the guest list to exceed four digits.

It might be worrisome if it doesn’t!

Moreover, the wedding space is separated for the women and men to maintain a veil between the two genders. 

Floral arrangements and decorations of the hall and the stage are some of the things where Arabs spend a lot and do not think twice before spending money. They are often the highlight of the wedding.

Usually, the female’s side of the hall would be more lively and vibrant, which a DJ playing Arabic music and a belly dancer dancing as well between the tables.

There are live table performances as well! 

The male attire is usually similar to each other, and that is the kandoura.

As far as entertainment goes, there are live singers flown in from all over the world, like Lebanon and Jordan. Emirati Cane dancing is often a sight to behold at these weddings. 

In modern times, the grooms and his friends and relatives enter the hall amid high applause, high pitched music in a very vibrant and showy way to show their excitement. 

The bride usually wears a Thobe, which is cream white colored and made of cotton or silk.

While the groom traditionally wears a dishdasha robe and a headdress known as the ghutra. To hold the ghutra in place, the groom will wear a black robe called an agal.

The middle of the stage, where both the bride and groom will sit for everyone to look at and meet them, is called the Kosha

Since Arabian music is fundamental to these weddings, you will see men wearing traditional clothing and dancing to an Arabian beat in a band formation.

This wedding band march has drummers, people with flutes, and dancers.

This formation and ceremony is called the Zaffa and is an eye-catching sight in Emirati Weddings! 

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Food 

Emiratis love to eat, and Arabian cuisine is full of hearty meals. Hence, the food is also an integral part of the wedding. The food is enjoyed with the right hand, and everyone prefers sitting on the floor on a mat unless the wedding is a very upscale affair. 

At the beginning of the affair, Arabian coffee, dates, and tea are passed around the tables for the guests to enjoy. There are substantial family-sized dishes in which food is served.

Ouzi is also served lamb, biryani, threed, rogag, and salona, and other traditional delicacies can be seen in any traditional Emirati wedding. 

In the dessert section, lougaimat is served with coffee and tea.

Lougaimat is fried balls made of dough and dipped in sweet syrup. They are delicious and make for a beautiful end to the festivity. 

Salads such as fattoush and tabbouleh are standard views as well.

Grilled meat in many forms is, however, the star of the show.

More desserts include baklava, dates, and halwa

Conclusion

Emirati weddings serve as a beautiful testament to the enduring significance of tradition in Arab culture within the UAE.

These ceremonies, steeped in generational customs, not only bring together communities but also preserve and pass on the country’s rich heritage.

By understanding these traditions, you can engage more deeply with the culture of your host country as an expat.

We hope this guide to Emirati wedding traditions helps you appreciate and partake in these joyous occasions.

Happy Wedding!