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Adam + Reema: A Cross-Cultural Wedding in Dubai

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

So this wedding is a little bit special.

It’s my little brother everyone! Adam and Reema met in Malaysia on their year abroad from Nottingham University, and from what I hear from his friends, Adam was smitten at first sight, but Reema made him work for it!

Anyway, across continents and years, they made it to their wedding day, and we made it to Dubai to celebrate with them. The intimate ceremony was at Reema’s family home and followed Iraqi traditions with Reema’s entrance led with incense, and surrounded by roses to fragrance the air and lots of ululating from the women (which I still haven’t mastered). She wore a simple white dress with minimal jewellery to represent a relaxed and natural life for the married couple in the future, an easygoing marriage! Reema made her way to her seat, past the Mez al Sayed items. These included phenomenally crafted flatbreads that looked like bouquets of roses, calligraphy blessings, a tray of herbs and spices to blind the evil eye and to burn the veil spirit, a tray of seven white foods to represent purity, a basket of decorated eggs, rose water, a basket of decorated nuts, pomegranates and apples, a candle and a mirror. It also holds the Qur’an, cardamom pods, a silk shawl, sugar and honey which are all crucial for the ceremony. The table faces East to welcome the sunrise. It was then time for the women to prepare Reema by placing her feet in water sprinkled with green leaves, to place the Qur’an on her lap and her hands delicately onto the passages, placing cardamom pods between her fingers and held the silk shawl above her head.

At this stage, with the room divided by a screen, the men were welcomed into the house with the Sheikh. Adam asked Reema (in Arabic) if she would marry him. She denied! He asked again - she denied! So he asked again, and she said yes. She told me she had been tempted to deny him for a good while longer, but thought it might be a bit mean of her! Adam had been learning Arabic and stumbled his way through the ceremony, with Reema’s dad pausing to translate at one moment. Chuckling, he said “He’s basically asking if you agree to buy my daughter?” and Adam goes, “Oh! Err... yes?!” Cue a few laughs from both sides of the screen! Throughout this, Reema has been seated with two cones of sugar slowly being rubbed together above her, over the shawl, to symbolise sweetness in their marriage. Finally, once the contract is signed by Adam and Reema’s dad, and the Sheikh has blessed the marriage, Adam is allowed to cross the partition and greet Reema with a kiss.

Then the two sides of the room join together. Adam and Reema lick the honey from each other’s fingers to bring sweetness to their lives, exchange rings, and drink pomegranate juice whilst linked together (which looked a little tricky!) and then the party could begin. Everyone made their way into the garden for an amazing buffet, and plenty of dancing!

The next evening Adam and Reema held their wedding celebration at Le Grand Meridian Hotel, Dubai. The date of a Friday in November was chosen to be an auspicious day and month and once all the guests had arrived and been seated, they entered to traditional Zaffa music and plenty of ululating (zaghareet) and slowly made their way to the kosha (a sofa) in front of an incredible flower wall. Then they started with their first dance with incredible dry ice and indoor fireworks (which made my mum jump and almost set her alight, much to our amusement), with Adam twirling Reema elegantly in her mink coloured Ana Radu gown, the beading sparkling in the light and the tulle giving the appearance of floating in a cloud. (Adam scrubbed up pretty well too in his tux.) One of their friends from the UK had asked, jokingly “but will there be a belly dancer? I hope there will be a belly dancer!” so Reema with some help from her mum and dad had ensured there would be one there to surprise them. She certainly got everyone up and dancing enthusiastically, I’ve never been so exhausted! Dancing went on throughout the night, and included learning some traditional moves and chair dancing, alongside the ever present Macarena and Cha Cha Slide. Well, is it even a wedding without the Cha Cha Slide??! Thanks so much for having us guys, we absolutely loved it. Proud to call you family. xx

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