Overheard a conversation at work yesterday between a Western Expat and an Arab man that was interesting and telling of arranged marriages, which are still quite common in many cultures.
Western Expat: So did you have a good holiday back home visiting your family?
Arab: Yes, a very good time.
Western Expat: How long were you away?
Arab: Just 2 weeks, but I’ll be going back in a month.
Western Expat: So did you find a wife?
Arab: Yes and we got married.
Western Expat: Congratulations! Did you find your wife or did your family find her for you?
Arab: My family found her.
Western Expat: When is the wedding ceremony?
Arab: In September.
Western Expat: Will she move to Abu Dhabi after the ceremony?
Arab: I don’t know.
Western Expat: That’s exciting. What’s her name?
Arab: Ummm (with hesitation and uncertainty)…Shariyah.
Arranged marriages are largely practiced in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka), Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia and East Asia to some extent. Many single men are finding it difficult to get married because of the large dowries that women’s families are asking and because of a class system that may separate the two families in the same country. And even after getting married, it’s not uncommon for the men to take vacations without their wives and to live in separate cities.