Small is beautiful: Gaza’s toned-down coronavirus-era weddings

Small is beautiful: Gaza’s toned-down coronavirus-era weddings
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A veiled Palestinian bride covers her face as she leaves a beauty salon in the northern Gaza Strip on November 13, 2020, ahead of her wedding ceremony amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
Small is beautiful: Gaza’s toned-down coronavirus-era weddings
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A veiled Palestinian bride leaves a beauty salon in the northern Gaza Strip on November 13, 2020, ahead of her wedding ceremony amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
Small is beautiful: Gaza’s toned-down coronavirus-era weddings
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Palestinian groom Ahmed Omar Khallah (L) dances with male relatives and friends while waiting for his bride outside a beauty salon in the northern Gaza Strip on November 13, 2020, ahead of their wedding ceremony amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
Small is beautiful: Gaza’s toned-down coronavirus-era weddings
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Palestinian groom Mohammed Ahmed Ashour (C) dances with male relatives and friends while waiting for his bride during his wedding ceremony amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Gaza City on November 12, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 27 November 2020

Small is beautiful: Gaza’s toned-down coronavirus-era weddings

Small is beautiful: Gaza’s toned-down coronavirus-era weddings
  • Pandemic-era weddings in Gaza are small because of strict crowd limits and finish early to beat the curfews
  • Weddings in the Palestinian coastal enclave are usually extravagant affairs, held in large halls that dot the Mediterranean coastline

GAZA CITY: To the sound of drums and flutes, a freshly coiffed Palestinian groom dances with his brothers, cousins and friends, anxiously waiting for his veiled bride to arrive in her shimmering gown.
It might have been a normal Gaza wedding, except for the venue — not a luxurious seaside hall, but a narrow alley in the Al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City.
Welcome to Gaza’s new pandemic-era weddings: they are small because of strict crowd limits, they are held outdoors, and they finish early to beat the curfews.
And they are a whole lot cheaper than usual.
“I’m not entirely happy because I would have preferred to celebrate it in a wedding hall,” said the groom, Mohammed Ahmed Ashour, wearing a blazer and burgundy tie.
But for his family, the 24-year-old merchant told AFP between dances, the pared-down nuptials have also brought welcome savings at a time of economic hardship.
Weddings in the Palestinian coastal enclave are usually extravagant affairs, held in large halls that dot the Mediterranean coastline.
Despite staggering poverty and unemployment rates of around 50 percent even before the pandemic, many Gazans spend several thousand dollars on weddings.
This year the virus has further impacted the economy in the strip, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007, and is currently spreading rapidly across Gaza.
In recent weeks infections have multiplied and “the situation is getting out of control,” warned Doctor Ahmad Al-Jadba of Gaza City’s Shifa hospital.
On Friday, the Palestinian health ministry announced 922 new cases for the last 24 hours in Gaza, a daily record which takes the total number of people known to have been infected with the virus in the enclave to 18,333, including 86 deaths.
Hamas, the group that runs the strip, has banned large indoor gatherings to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Families have been forced to hold smaller weddings in less-than-fairytale settings — like alleys and backyards — but saved bundles in the process.
Ashour said these days many couples opt for scaled-back daytime nuptials which take “a little over an hour.”
Once the Ashours’ wedding was over, the musicians — three percussionists and a player of the traditional reed flute called a ney — headed home before the evening curfew.
They had more performances booked for the next day, as their small, traveling business is now thriving.
A few days later they were in Jabaliya, a town in the north of the strip, for the wedding of Ahmed Omar Khallah, a 28-year-old postman.
Khallah said that for him, too, the timing is good: “There is no work, no money, but we have saved a lot by marrying now,” he told AFP.
He was picking up his bride from a beauty salon.
Its proprietor, Fadwi, confirmed that “many young couples prefer to get married during the corona period because the costs are lower. They don’t have to rent wedding halls or pay for large buffets.”
Fadwi has changed his business hours to accommodate the new routine as Hamas police patrols enforce the night-time curfews.
“We now start work around 7:00 am,” he said, “because people only get married in ceremonies until 5:00 pm.”


Model Imaan Hammam takes a break from social media

Imaan Hammam is currently one of the most in-demand models on the scene. File/AFP
Imaan Hammam is currently one of the most in-demand models on the scene. File/AFP
Updated 23 January 2021

Model Imaan Hammam takes a break from social media

Imaan Hammam is currently one of the most in-demand models on the scene. File/AFP

DUBAI: Model Imaan Hammam is taking a social media break “to reset and reflect,” she revealed this week. 

The Dutch catwalk star, who was born to an Egyptian father and a Moroccan mother, took to her Instagram platform to raise awareness about mental health in light of “Blue Monday,” the third Monday in January, which is dubbed to be the most gloomy day of the year.

Urging her one million followers to prioritize their mental well-being, Hammam posted a photo of herself wearing a yellow t-shirt bearing a number for the mental health crisis hotline. 

She wrote: “(Wednesday) was a really exciting step forward for the US. But as we celebrate, I also want to remember that the day-to-day struggles people are facing — especially with mental health — don’t just disappear with a new administration. This past Monday (#BlueMonday) was the supposed scientifically proven most depressing day of the year.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

She went on to encourage her followers to check out music collective Enjoy Being in Transition’s new trilogy of mixes curated by one of fashion’s favorite sound designers, Michel Gaubert, in order to bring peace and harmony and “to be a source of relief and inspiration for a society feeling the fatigue and the effects of depression from this past year.” She even plugged the link to the Blue Room playlist in her Instagram bio.

The 24-year-old also announced that she has started releasing monthly Spotify playlists in an effort to help uplift her fans’ spirits. 

“Speaking of mental health,” she concluded, “I am going to take a little break from social for a bit, just to reset and reflect. Sending you guys love and I’ll be back soon.”

Hammam isn’t the only supermodel to take a break from social media to prioritize their mental health in recent weeks. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

Part-Palestinian catwalker Bella Hadid briefly abandoned the photo-sharing social media platform at the beginning of this month. 

A few weeks after departing, Hadid explained to her 38 million followers why she felt she needed to quit. 

“I took some time away to reflect and learn about myself in a way that would be too much to explain at the moment, but with time I will express,” the model wrote. “The memories and fortune I came back with are pure wisdom, a closer relationship with myself and my spirituality, a sense of self-love that I have always lacked, a few great friends, and these books that saw me through.”