What Is The Emirati Wedding & Married Life Like?
Updated on 03 September 2018

By: Salamah Ghudayer

The Emirati weddings for the Bedouin families were modest, yet generous gatherings popular with many. Guests were welcomed; many after traveling days - thus the standard three day of hosting turned into three days of parties. The traditions of wedding parties varied between tribes and the distinction of Bedouin and city people known as the Hadther. Many people ask about the three day parties in the Emirates, and to be honest they don’t happen as they used to. There are different parties some families do, prior to the main wedding which we call A’ars, but they can be spread out with months between.

Once the couple agree to marry, there is a party called Milcha which is an engagement party for the bride. Her close female relatives and friends attend, but also it is a chance for the two hareems - women closely related to the bride and groom to get to know each other better as the groom’s immediate female relatives attend as well. As a bride it offers more insight and time with your future Mother and Sister-in-Laws. Though it is a formal dress party, it feels more casual as there is a feeling of security and excitement for the bride to share with those closest to her.

After the Milcha there is the Al Aqd, this is the signing of the marriage contract. This contract is a pre-nuptial and marriage agreement. Though it can be signed in the courthouse, judges are also available to come to the home. Once signed the couple are legally married, but not quite in the faith. There must be the banquet as a method of celebration and announcement the couple are official, only then in religion are they fully married. and this is called A’ars. The time between the Al Aqd and the Al A’ars can be hours or months, often depending on the families involved. Some prefer to have the couple fully married in every way all at once. Others prefer to sign prior to any planning or investment into the wedding party and prior to any announcement or social issues should someone decide not to sign just before the major event.

Al A’ars is the biggest party of them all. Mainly it is for the bride and the female family members, neighbours and friends from both sides of the wedding couple. In the Emirates, men’s gatherings and lady’s gatherings are held separately. Depending on the season, some men prefer a very traditional theme and hold theirs in tents outside. Others stay modern and formal in ballrooms on the same night as the bride’s party but in separate ballrooms, or on a prior night. However, the wedding here as in many cultures is focused on the bride. Her party is where she will officially be joined by her husband, sitting on a couch called kosha usually on a stage. There the couple accept well wishes from close family and the groom claims his bride and off they leave for the honeymoon. Traditionally they were spending three nights in her house, though now it can be one or none as some opt for a local getaway or an international destination. Once married, most Emirati couples will live with extended family; often in his family’s home, though it can also be her’s in certain circumstances. Once their own little family expands, then they may move on to their own home. In general, husbands and wives share many responsibilities for the home. It is a misconception that only in modern times, homes likely have two incomes. Historically in UAE, women made some sort of business or investments to secure themselves, but also to help out with the children when economies were difficult. In Islam, finances are the men’s duty and the lady pockets her own earnings as are the rights laid out in the religion, but when times are hard, the Emirati couple has always been a team, based on trust, respect, deep care and when the lucky - love.

With thanks to Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Call 04-3536666 or visit

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