On the 24th of February, I attended the wedding of my husband's colleague who is an Emirati (the local UAE and not the other Arabs such as the Syrians, Turkish, Lebanese ..but I guess all of you already know that).
An Emirati wedding is a bit different where even after the akad or solemnization, both the bride and groom are not allowed to hit the sack for doses of woohoos..it is only after the reception that they are allowed to consummate the marriage. According to my husband's local colleague, at times it may take up to six months before one can ravage his wife (..hahah..barbaric eh) mainly because, Emiratis would stretch to the maximum when it comes to throwing a wedding reception meaning spending hundreds of thousands of dirhams and maybe even millions for the reception thus the wait of up to half a year.
First of all, I was warned by my husband that we would go to the wedding together but would be segregated at two different venues as males and females are separated. You know the Muslim tenets where women are protected from the hungry scouring eyes of men. Since my two little girls were with me, the thought of being alone and having no one to talk to did not petrify me at all. By the way, this would provide me with the opportunity to make new local friends, right? NOT!!! As I entered the hall, there was one lady-in-pink at the door. I assumed her to be the member of the bride's family, I smiled to her wanting to shake her hand, you know thinking that it would be like our Malaysian wedding where members of the family would greet the guests regardless of who they are or whether they know you or not.. but as she ignored us, I promptly made my way to an empty table at the front. As I seated my girls, a waitress came and told me that we were not allowed to sit there as it was the VIP section.
Well excuse me, you should have told me earlier when you saw me scrambling like a cuckoo looking for a table. The waitress then gave that lady-in-pink 'a look' and I saw her instructing us to be seated among the domestic helpers! Not to say that I mind mingling with helpers, they are friendlier than their employers and you get more communication with them..but I hope you get what I mean. There were other vacant tables with Arabs and white people but I was seated with the helpers..is it because of my skin that I am deemed unworthy of being in their group?? Nevertheless, I had much preferred being where I was because we had so much fun giggling..These helpers have one heck of a dirty mind I tell you..morbid and dirty.
The whole event was made smooth by two sets of servers. One, the Filipinos whose main role was to clear the table and bring in the main course and another set of servers were these Arabs, I think Sudanese, who poured tea and served biscuits and cakes prior to the main meal. Tea, I gather is important in the Emirati culture as it was served throughout the night with a selection of mint tea, cardamom infused tea, tea with milk (just like our teh tarik), tea and ginger and another one that was so bitter I could not manage to finish even the small portion I was given. As I was sitting down not knowing what to do, my eyes were busy looking at the decoration of the hall. It is quite similar to our wedding where you would see a "pelamin" ( a sofa..or a lavish chair where the bride and groom would sit on..something like a throne..yeah..like what Victoria Beckham did on her wedding day...) on the stage decorated with white and blue roses. And along the runway, were tables for the VVIP. There were around 40 tables with each seating 10 people but mostly, there were empty spaces here and there.
I wanted to take pictures but before entering the hall, dearest hubby forewarned me NOT to take any as it will be considered an offence. Waaa....that bad aa...but there is a rationale behind it. You know when some people say that showing less is actually more. I agree with that statement one thousand and one percent. Since being in the UAE, I rarely see women who expose too much of their flesh which is refreshing at one point. But on the other hand, not seeing too much flesh has triggered this lesbian side of me that starts wondering what actually is prowling under their long black abaya. That is why less is actually more for what you lack in sight is made up for in the imagination!!! That is why picutres are not allowed to be taken..because they fear ..that the ladies' and women's aurah (parts of the body that a Muslim female should not reveal) would be exposed.
And at this wedding, I was seeing too much flesh..more than my eyes could handle, all coming from these Emirati women between the ages of 13-45! Jolly ho ho..underneath all that abaya looking demure and sweet, is actually one heck of a..hmm..sexy vixen..y'olls! Wearing tight fitting numbers, adorned with sequins; splashes of colors were coming from every angle of the room, not the typical black shade, their faces all made up for a beauty pageant, tiaras nestling on their hairs..Kim Kardashian would have to admit defeat! These ladies are unbeatable. They look more like an Oscar nominee than a wedding guest. The opulence is definitely blinding!
Then they started dancing! Not disco dancing though. Their dancelah..to the beat of Arabian tunes. Masyallah, I was taken in awe by how flowy they were, seductive in their moves like an erotic ballerina.. It was nice entertainment..coming from commoners and not professional dancers. At first, they were dancing on the floor, then they moved on to the stage, then one of them went to a table and offered the guests there a private viewing. And they danced ..and danced..and danced..and danced...and boy did they just dance. Just the 5 of them..hahaha..syok sendiri kot..! But the highlight of it was when 3 teenagers came, dressed in minis, dancing provocatively on stage to the dismay of one parent who nearly, literally pulled them by the hair off from the stage. If it were not for the other ladies, I guess we would have bunches of hair on the stage. Well, it could have benefited some who often goes for extensions..free extensions what..duh.
Later on, the bride then made her appearance and entered the hall accompanied by selawats and zikirs. She made her way on to the stage and walked from left to right displaying herself like a model. Then she sat on a white chaise lounge, regal enough to be a throne, but alone as the groom was not there. As she was sitting, relatives and friends came up to congratulate her and took photographs with her.
And then, after two hours later of dancing and a mom getting pissed off, food was finally served. When food was served, I was once again offended by the lack of hospitality. Where other people were invited to eat in a very warm manner with members of the bride's family serving food on the guests' plates, we were only given a hand gesture to signal us to eat sans their smiles or eye contact..waa..I felt like crying..kalau kat Malaysia, tak kira Melayu, India or Chinese..we would treat our guests like kings and queens. So, as my tummy was already grumbling..letak malu ketepi,..balun ajalah makanan tu.. Luckily my new friends had taken over the task of the host by inviting me to eat and in fact were shoving me with masses of food. Oh yeah..expect a LOT of food to be served..a whole lot of food! There was mandi rice with laham, mixed grills (delish...), taboulleh, hummus, fatayers, bread, pasta bake, labneh and two types of dessert and free flowing tea. I was absolutely stuffed to my brains at the end of the day. I ate like a pig (not really..politer lah but pig-like quantity) and made a dash to the car, to the arms of my loving husband and son.
This experience is one to be cherished though I was not hosted well..not many are fortunate enough to be able to attend an Emirati wedding for they are a really closed community, not allowing many outsiders into their privacy. I am, however, looking forward to another invitation, if there is any, just to prove me wrong with this conceived idea that Emirati ladies are arrogant and unfriendly especially towards fellow Asians, then again, they might have perceived me the same way...