Hard to explain? Arranged marriages really can lead to love

For many people, the words "arranged marriage" stir visions of oppression, cruelty or domination. It is a sensitive topic because many people find it hard to explain and others hard to accept. Polite acknowledgment and a quick change of subject usually end the conversation.

Selecting the perfect partner is extremely personal in countries where arranged marriages are not practised. Years are spent searching for a soulmate. The very idea of allowing your family to choose the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with is downright unacceptable in many cultures.

Then there is the subject of love. It is incomprehensible for many that getting married to an absolute stranger can ever lead to the feelings found in "love marriages". From an outsider's point of view, arranged marriages seem like a partnership of convenience that can end in mutual respect but has no basis in love.

But for most Emiratis, and many other Arabs, the idea of arranged marriage is quite the opposite. It is seen as not only a reliable union but also as a means to find love everlasting. To understand these ideas, it is important to understand the process right from the start.

It begins, as most marriages do, with a man and a woman. Once a candidate is chosen, the mothers begin by meeting to discuss matters that Emirati men can only theorise about. It is an ancient, perfected conversation that is filled with the knowledge of centuries of experience and the natural wisdom of mothers and wives to discover if the bride and groom are truly matched in all aspects of life including family background, personalities and much more.

If both mothers give the green light to move forward, this is when the men are permitted to take part. A date is set for the fathers to meet to officially start the process. If the meeting goes as planned and the father of the bride accepts the son as a good match for his daughter, he may ask for some time to consider.

Contrary to what many may believe, the decision falls, in the end, to the bride. Her father will share his opinion with her about the groom and she will be left to decide.

The process of involving the family not only allows many opinions to be shared, but also involves relatives in the decision of the marriage, which later can prove to be extremely helpful if the couple needs assistance in difficult times.

The marriage begins with a clean slate with no expectations or misconceptions. But it cannot be denied that the first few months can prove to be quite difficult. Getting to know a person while you are already married needs a period of adjustment. During this period, the bride and groom begin to learn each other's weaknesses and flaws. Yet, in these difficult and sensitive times, the family offers full support, helping the couple to learn patience and to understand one another.

Once the initial period is passed, the magic of arranged marriages begins. Since the union began in complexity, every moment of harmony proves to be more rewarding than the one before it. What began as a complicated task becomes an effortless pleasure. The couple begins to work together to mould their personalities to complement each other's wants, needs and dreams.

Unlike many love marriages, which begin with a roaring bonfire that dies down over time, arranged marriages ignite a small flame of love and understanding that is fuelled over time with the respect and admiration the couple learn to have for one another. As years pass, the flame grows with the understanding and acceptance they each have for each other.

Many believe a person's true soulmate can only be found in love at first sight. For most Emiratis, a true soulmate is found when two people put their hearts and souls together to build love. This is then filtered to their children who are raised in a loving, peaceful home with parents who have built a foundation for the family to grow on.

This is not to say that love marriages in the UAE are doomed for failure. For every type of marriage, there are successful unions and others that do not make it. Yet for arranged marriages, the success rate in the UAE is higher than the norm. Against the powerful force of modernisation and globalisation, it is for this reason that arranged marriages not only continue to be practised but are encouraged by many in the UAE.

Taryam al Subaihi is a freelance writer from Abu Dhabi who specialises in corporate communications

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The major Hashd factions linked to Iran:

Badr Organisation: Seen as the most militarily capable faction in the Hashd. Iraqi Shiite exiles opposed to Saddam Hussein set up the group in Tehran in the early 1980s as the Badr Corps under the supervision of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The militia exalts Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei but intermittently cooperated with the US military.

Saraya Al Salam (Peace Brigade): Comprised of former members of the officially defunct Mahdi Army, a militia that was commanded by Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr and fought US and Iraqi government and other forces between 2004 and 2008. As part of a political overhaul aimed as casting Mr Al Sadr as a more nationalist and less sectarian figure, the cleric formed Saraya Al Salam in 2014. The group’s relations with Iran has been volatile.

Kataeb Hezbollah: The group, which is fighting on behalf of the Bashar Al Assad government in Syria, traces its origins to attacks on US forces in Iraq in 2004 and adopts a tough stance against Washington, calling the United States “the enemy of humanity”.

Asaeb Ahl Al Haq: An offshoot of the Mahdi Army active in Syria. Asaeb Ahl Al Haq’s leader Qais al Khazali was a student of Mr Al Moqtada’s late father Mohammed Sadeq Al Sadr, a prominent Shiite cleric who was killed during Saddam Hussein’s rule.

Harakat Hezbollah Al Nujaba: Formed in 2013 to fight alongside Mr Al Assad’s loyalists in Syria before joining the Hashd. The group is seen as among the most ideological and sectarian-driven Hashd militias in Syria and is the major recruiter of foreign fighters to Syria.

Saraya Al Khorasani:  The ICRG formed Saraya Al Khorasani in the mid-1990s and the group is seen as the most ideologically attached to Iran among Tehran’s satellites in Iraq.

(Source: The Wilson Centre, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation)

Pakistanis at the ILT20

The new UAE league has been boosted this season by the arrival of five Pakistanis, who were not released to play last year.

Shaheen Afridi (Desert Vipers)
Set for at least four matches, having arrived from New Zealand where he captained Pakistan in a series loss.

Shadab Khan (Desert Vipers)
The leg-spin bowling allrounder missed the tour of New Zealand after injuring an ankle when stepping on a ball.

Azam Khan (Desert Vipers)
Powerhouse wicketkeeper played three games for Pakistan on tour in New Zealand. He was the first Pakistani recruited to the ILT20.

Mohammed Amir (Desert Vipers)
Has made himself unavailable for national duty, meaning he will be available for the entire ILT20 campaign.

Imad Wasim (Abu Dhabi Knight Riders)
The left-handed allrounder, 35, retired from international cricket in November and was subsequently recruited by the Knight Riders.

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No more lice

Defining head lice

Pediculus humanus capitis are tiny wingless insects that feed on blood from the human scalp. The adult head louse is up to 3mm long, has six legs, and is tan to greyish-white in colour. The female lives up to four weeks and, once mature, can lay up to 10 eggs per day. These tiny nits firmly attach to the base of the hair shaft, get incubated by body heat and hatch in eight days or so.

Identifying lice

Lice can be identified by itching or a tickling sensation of something moving within the hair. One can confirm that a person has lice by looking closely through the hair and scalp for nits, nymphs or lice. Head lice are most frequently located behind the ears and near the neckline.

Treating lice at home

Head lice must be treated as soon as they are spotted. Start by checking everyone in the family for them, then follow these steps. Remove and wash all clothing and bedding with hot water. Apply medicine according to the label instructions. If some live lice are still found eight to 12 hours after treatment, but are moving more slowly than before, do not re-treat. Comb dead and remaining live lice out of the hair using a fine-toothed comb.
After the initial treatment, check for, comb and remove nits and lice from hair every two to three days. Soak combs and brushes in hot water for 10 minutes.Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay.

Courtesy Dr Vishal Rajmal Mehta, specialist paediatrics, RAK Hospital

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