Weddings are very important events in Qatari society; especially for women. It is one of the times they get together without men’s presence and have the opportunity to be themselves and show their beauty. Some might think that the bride is the most important thing in the wedding; but being a Qatari who attended Qatari weddings for almost my whole life, I have to disagree. The attention that the bride gets does not exceed two hours. Before I go any further, I will explain a typical Qatari wedding from the start.
Usually people start to come after ishaa prayer. Both women from the bride’s and groom’s family will be standing in a line at the door greeting guests. Nowadays, there is a new trend of having security at the door to check for cameras or mobile phone with cameras because they are not allowed at the wedding hall. And if you do have one, you would have to leave it at the door and the security lady would give you a card with a number on it so you can come pick it up later. I always wonder what a loser would want to take pictures of girls and spread them in Bluetooth, don’t they have anything better to do? And why people are so paranoid that pictures of them would be taken secretly for bad intentions! Who cares!
Moreover, wedding invitations will always indicate at the bottom of the card that no servants or children are allowed. After congratulating the hosts, the guests would have a look at the wedding hall, admire the stage and the tables and look for a place to sit. The stage would usually be in the middle of the hall, with a cat walk extending from the stage till the end of the hall. The tables would be beautifully located on both sides of the cat walk. Guests would defiantly look for a place facing the cat walk, because it is the best spot to view the dancers; however, mothers have a different reason to want to sit next to the cat walk. For them, it is a good chance to look for a nice girl who might be suitable for her son. And this is a very common way to get engaged in Qatar, as the majority still gets married through arranged marriages.
Back to the events of the wedding. A DJ starts playing until the band arrives. And when I say a band, don’t imagine a band with guitars and piano standing on the stage!. The band would be sitting on both sides of the cat walk with traditional drums. Sometimes, there would be men with the band but they would be sitting behind a curtain so that they don’t see the women. The music they make out of little music instrument is truly strong and beautiful. Yong girls will start dancing in the khaliji way on the music. I must say here that Arabic dancing varies in each country. Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon have different kind of dancing. However, the khaliji dancing is unique for its slow, smooth, feminine moves. Never the less, within the khaliji dancing, there are different styles depending on each song. For example the khammari is a very slow dance where women have to cover their faces while dancing; usually grandmothers like to dance this dance because its an old dance.
Women who are related to the groom and bride pay so much attention to little details; they would probably be the best dressed at the wedding. One would not believe that those women are the same women covered under the abaya, because everyone of them looks like she popped out of a fashion magazine. The hair is amazingly coiffured, the nails are manicured, the dress and the high heals are amazing; however, sometimes, too much makeup.
The bride would usually come down around 10:30. lights are off, the zaffa music is on, spot light on the bride, and she walks slowly with her sisters and friends around her helping her to walk towards the kosha. Most of the time bride’s dresses are very heavy, she would need help with every two steps which makes her entrance not so pretty. However, it is still a magical moment; all eyes are on the bride. Then she sits on her special seat in the kosha waiting for the guests to come and congratulate her. I always wonder if the bride cheeks feel sour after kissing hundreds of guests. And that is it for the bride; the attention goes from the bride to the girls dancing on the stage and catwalk. People will look at the bride again when the groom comes in for few minutes, then it goes back to the dancers. There is a tradition of throwing money on girls who dance as a complement for their dancing, it is called noqoot. But it is the band who takes the money. They usually have a lady at the band just to collect the money on the floor. The deal with the band would either be a big payment before the wedding day if there was no noqoot, or little payment with a lot of noqoot later on. Some people disagree with this tradition and say it is inappropriate to throw money; and some families have actually stopped doing this because they think it is not classy.
The bride will be sitting on her special chair on the kosha for about two hours until the groom comes. The band will announce the arrival of the groom so that women cover up again. And usually the groom will come with his father and brothers accompanied by the bride’s brothers or uncles or alone. All eyes now are on the groom and the men with him. The groom’s zafa is too short, it takes him less than a minute to walk to the kosha. The couple don’t kiss infront of people, maybe he would kiss her on the forehead but its very rare that they initiate any contact infront of people. Both would feel very shy because of the hundreds eyes staring at them. The couple would sit for less than an hour to receive greetings from their families. And usually only women related to the groom are expected to congratulate him. And only his aunties; not even his cousins. Many would assume that a female cousin had a love story with him and want him back! And that goes for any other female appearance in front of him except for his aunties and mothers! It is not accustomed for the bride’s sisters or friends to speak with the groom; forever. I don’t know why? Isn’t he a member of the family now?
This scenario might seem boring for the bride; sitting in one place and smiling for hours. That is why some wedding are different now. One of my friends danced with her friends on her wedding; another decided to make a small party and spend the money on a trip around the world. And I agree with this. I don’t see a point of spending almost 200,000 QR on a one night party and inviting more than 700 guests that you don’t even know half of. Some of the girls of the new generation think it is better to have a smaller party and be comfortable and casual at their wedding party instead of sitting on kosha and smiling for two or three hours. I expect that the style of the Qatari wedding will change with the next generation; it will become simpler and smaller, and definitely much more fun for the bride.