Dubai royal wedding: Sheikh Hamdan and brothers celebrate Eid nuptials

UAE Rulers and VIPs attend royal wedding at Dubai World Trade Centre

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It was, first and most importantly, a joyous occasion, with family and close friends gathered to celebrate an Eid wedding.

This being Dubai, and the fact that the three grooms are all sons of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, it was also a little bit more than that.

The official celebrations for the marriage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and his brothers Sheikh Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Ahmed, Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, were always going to be on a grand scale, as was the guest list.

Among the first to offer congratulations was Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

“With joy and happiness, I congratulate my brother Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on the wedding of his children Hamdan, Maktoum and Ahmed,” Sheikh Mohammed posted on his Twitter account.

"The joy of Eid is complete today with this national wedding in which we celebrate our sons and rejoice in them and with them. I congratulate my sons and wish them a happy family life."

Speaking for the rest of country was Laila Al Mehairi, watching the celebrations after going out for lunch with her friend Aisha Al Hajj.

“All the country is happy today, no?” said Ms Al Mehairi, 49, who, in her Eid henna, looked dressed for the occasion.

“It’s a happiness because they are the first sons of the Dubai family to marry and it is not just one son but three marrying together. God bless them.”

Long before the first official guests arrived, crowds were beginning to gather outside the venue, the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Although private, the men’s wedding celebrations had attracted enormous interest, and followed the official Islamic wedding on May 15.

For those watching from the outside, the first clue that things were ready to get under way was a car park filling with Range Rovers bearing multimillion dirham number plates — a trademark of the UAE's elite.

Men adjusted the ghutras and igals on their heads in their car mirrors or in the tinted windows of nearby SUVs before heading towards Zabeel Hall.

Most were clothed in gold or cream bishts.

Other guests took more modest forms of transport, as neighbourhoods in smaller cities, like Shamkha and Shahama in Abu Dhabi and Dibba in Fujairah, organised buses so groups of men could arrive together in solidarity.

Videos posted on social media showed the reception line, as the three grooms and their father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the country's royals, to shake hands with a queue of arriving guests.

Many of the UAE's ministers, dignitaries, and prominent businessmen were also in attendance.

As is the tradition, the arrivals were also met by Emirati ayala dancers — not one but three troupes beating drums and cymbals at the entrance to the exhibition hall.

Inside, the voices of more than a hundred singers chanted, "my grandfather and your grandfather were brothers" in Arabic as a steady flow of VIPs in their finery flowed through corridors lined with dancers and flowers.

Glimpses on social media videos showed proceedings inside the hall, the largest in the WTC, which had been decorated in pale gold and cream, to match the men’s outfits.

A box screen suspended from the ceiling showed a live feed of the brothers, with cream sofas lining one wall, and tables adorned with bouquets of white and soft pink roses, lilies and orchids.

It was "spectacular" said wedding guest Hamdan Al Samt, who told The National, it was "amazing to be inside".

"The greetings took a few moments because everything was conducted smoothly. It was well organised,” he said.

"Everyone was happy, everybody was smiling. You could see the happiness of the nation inside."

First in the reception line to be congratulated was the grooms’ father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, followed by their uncle, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, and then the three grooms.

"It's a special moment for Dubai," said Mohammed Abdulla, 40, who arrived on one of the Roads and Transport Authority buses that brought guests to the wedding.

"I think a lot of people won't understand the relationship between us and the Crown Prince — when he's happy, everyone is happy," said another guest, Ali Ghazi, 35.

Ahmed Al Maziyud, a member of Farq Al Maziyud Al Harbia, a Dubai folk and arts group who specialise in a traditional Bedouin dance called harbiye, stood in the blazing midday sun on Thursday, swinging his cane above his head and ready to perform the traditional songs and dances that have remained unchanged since the time of his grandfather.

“We don’t train for the dance, it is in our brains,” said Mr Al Maziyud.

“We have one heart and one sound and that is also the foundation of a wedding and a marriage.”

As the sun began to set on Dubai, casting a warm glow over the city, dancers outside the venue continued to perform, their energy seemingly renewed by the cooling temperature.

As the guests drifted away from the WTC, the party was set to continue after at Zabeel Palace, spectacularly lit for the event, and where more dancers were performing the leiwah dance and other mariners songs.

The last word went to the grooms’ father. “May happiness and peace always surround my family, my homeland and my people,” Sheikh Mohammed posted on his Twitter account — along with a collection of pictures with his sons from the event.

*Additional reporting by Ramola Talwar Badam and input from James Langton