ADEN // Valentine’s Day came a little early this year for two Emirates Red Crescent workers in Yemen.
The romance between Ayat Husain Al Authali, 24, and Emad Wagdi Anwar, 27, began 11 months ago after they met while working on a campaign to provide food and medicines to resistance fighters defending their city, Aden, from anti-government rebels. It culminated with the anouncement of their engagement on February 6.
“Our relationship went deeper when we started to work with the ERC more than three months ago, as we were meeting every day, and then Emad told me on my birthday that he loves me,” said Ayat. “He gave me a cake at our work headquarters in the ERC in Aden, and written on the cake were the words ‘HBD [happy birthday] Mom Yoota,’ which is my favourite nickname.”
Ayat and Emad have been distributing humanitarian aid for the Red Crescent in the Bab Al Mandeb area of Taez province and got to know each other better during the daily four-hour journey there from Aden, along with fellow workers for the charity.
It was there that Emad announced their engagement to their colleagues.
“I did not plan with Emad about the celebration of our engagement and he surprised me with a small party with our colleagues in Bab Al Mandeb, and this has deepened our relationship,” Ayat said.
“I had thought that Emad would announce our engagement on Valentine’s Day, but he chose to surprise me. He usually likes to do new things, so he announced the engagement in the middle of work.
“I did not imagine before that I will choose my husband in this way, and I did not imagine that I will have my engagement party in public. Really, it was an unforgottable moment when he put on the engagement ring and our colleagues were clapping and trilling cries of joy.
“I was supposed to celebrate with my family, but also I celebrated with my other family here,” Ayat said, referring to her colleagues.
While the engagement was a little unorthodox, the couple have both recieved permission from their families to get married. Traditionally, the family of the suitor goes to the house of the girl to ask for her hand in marriage.
Emad said there were reasons for the way he announced their betrothal.
"I chose this kind of celebration to break the Yemeni traditions of engagement and to change the situation of war and fighting to love,'' he told The National.
“Emad was very romantic to put on my ring in front of our colleagues, with happiness showing in his eyes,” Ayat said. “Love is very beautiful when it leads to marriage.”
Since the couple’s engagement was in Bab Al Mandeb, Ayat wants to spend their honeymoon on Perim island, located in the strait at the southern approach to the Red Sea, after getting married next year.
The couple’s plan for this Valentine’s Day is to go together to distribute aid in Lahj province, Emad said.
“I want to say to my fiancee that you are an angel that came from the sky, and the big gift to me is that I am working shoulder to shoulder with you on Valentine’s Day,’’ he said.