Behind the Harem Doors: What the Real Life of Arab Wives Is Like

Polygamy and harems, the absence of education and legal lack of rights, glittering diamonds and hijabs — the lives of Arabic wives have so many stereotypes in the eyes of foreigners that it becomes difficult to distinguish the truth from the myths.

Bright Side decided to find out what the real life of beautiful and mysterious Eastern women is all about.

Arranged marriage

  • Half of the marriages in Arabic countries are still arranged according to the parents’ will.And most people think that nobody asks the opinion of the girl. In fact, if the future bride doesn’t like the groom, she can refuse his proposal.
  • The signing of a marriage contract is compulsory. Unlike the rest of the world, it’s a mandatory rule in Arab countries.
  • Behind the Harem Doors: What the Real Life of Arab Wives Is Like
  • Arabic women rarely marry men from other religions because they can be deported from their country for such a marriage. Men have more privileges in this situation and are allowed to marry Christian and Jewish girls. But in this case, the girl will not get citizenship and the children will stay with their father if they divorce.
  • The age for getting married. In most Arabic countries there is a minimum age for grooms and brides, which is 18 years old. For example, citizens of Tunisia can get married at 18 according to the law, but the average age of brides is 25 and grooms are 30. However, in some developing countries, early marriages are still popular. In Saudi Arabia and Yemen, for example, most of the girls get married before the age of 18.

Wedding ceremonies

Traditions vary in different countries, but an Arab bride and groom celebrate their wedding separately.

  • The “male wedding” can be celebrated on a different day to the wedding of the bride. As a rule, it is very simple: tea, coffee, dinner, and communication lasting not more than 4 hours in total. The weddings of brides are celebrated much more widely in a big town hall with waiters and artists.
  • The “female wedding” is an occasion to show off in diamonds, designer shoes, and evening outfits because usually all this beauty is hidden behind hijabs (or abayas) and veils. That’s the reason why only women can attend such a wedding. Men are strictly forbidden here. The staff are only women, including singers, photographers, and DJs. If a famous singer is invited to the celebration, he will see neither the bride nor the guests because he will be performing behind a screen or in the next room and broadcasting the songs to the main hall.
  • Behind the Harem Doors: What the Real Life of Arab Wives Is Like

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