Two-riyal dowry: A centuries-old custom to fight spinsterhood



RIYADH: YASMINE NASR

Published — Thursday 30 May 2013

Last update 5 June 2013 2:39 am

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Spinsterhood is a growing problem in Saudi Arabia for many young women who are unable to marry as a result of the extravagant dowries and other costly marriage requirements.
Members of the Bani Thabit tribe in Namas governorate in Asir province pride themselves in having almost no spinsters.
Bani Thabit tribesmen offer the families of brides only SR 2 as a dowry as part of a more than 300-year-old tradition.
The tribe boasts its dowry custom, which reduces the financial burden of marriage on young people.
The custom has nothing to do with poverty or avarice. The Bani Thabit tribe started their dowry custom with the French riyal in the past, and then Saudi riyals. The tribe’s population consists of 10,000 people spread over six villages in Namas governorate.
According to Al-Arabiya channel, the tribe doesn’t suffer from a soaring divorce or spinsterhood rates, even though their dowry rate is much less than the customary dowry in Saudi Arabia and Gulf region, and may even be the lowest in the world.
The dowry problem has become a major obstacle to marriage in the Kingdom and has forced young men to delay marriage plans.
The amount of dowry varies from region to region, and many families boast of the huge amount of dowry they receive for their girls. However, there are parents who demand only a token amount from the grooms and they even help the men financially to set up a family.
Saudi Arabia has nearly 1.5 million spinsters and the number could soar to more than four million by 2015.

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