The government of Qatar is worried about the nation's falling marriage rate, and one of the reasons it cites for the decline isn't your standard fare: Weddings have become so expensive that would-be grooms—who traditionally foot the bill—are balking. How expensive? Al-Jazeera talks to one guy who says he saved nine years to pay for his $123,000 wedding. He's now getting a divorce, and officials think too many other couples are buckling under similar financial strain.
The government last week began rolling out a series of initiatives, including financial help for newlyweds, free wedding tents, and the construction of wedding halls that can be used at no charge, all "in a bid to reduce marriage expenses and help preserve the institution of marriage," says the national news agency. One Qatari explains the pressure: "People are expecting you to invite them to your wedding. It is not an option to say, 'I want to have a small wedding.' Because if you wanted to have a small wedding, people might be insulted."