‘Marrying prohibitive for many Saudi men’
Jeddah, May 6: Getting married these days is seen as a mission impossible for many young Saudis. The rising cost of living expenses hinders many wanting to get married. Families who demand big wedding ceremonies are also discouraging young Saudis struggling to get by on a minimal income.
There are no figures on how much Saudis earn per month in the private sector. Some studies estimate average income at between SR3,000 and SR5,000.
Estimated figures on the cost of living published in Eqtisadiah reveals that Saudis pay a monthly average of SR500 for gas, SR200 for their mobile phone/telephone, up to SR2,500 for their groceries and at least SR2,000 for rent.
Saudis working in labor jobs such as security guards are regarded as living below the minimal wage, with salaries not exceeding SR1,500 per month.
Some of the young males Arab News met in coffee shops and local shisha places hold college and university degrees, but they cannot find jobs that pay enough to finance a wedding.
“I and some of my friends are in a race against time to get married. We are not getting any younger. The more time passes, the more difficult it becomes for us. There is this constant pressure from my family to get married quickly. With the SR3,500 salary I am earning every month, there is no way I will get married in the near future,” said 30-year-old Yahya Salem.
He said that it is very difficult to find a woman these days that would accept living with a man on such a low salary, not to mention the fact that life would potentially get more difficult if a child was later introduced into the equation.
“Even if I was able to save enough money for a dowry, finding a place to live is hard. I think owning a house is almost close to impossible nowadays, especially on the SR1,200 monthly salary I receive. My friends from similar backgrounds are still living with their families. They just can’t afford to rent a place on a SR2,000 salary,” said Belal Mosa, 32 years old security guard at a Jeddah shopping mall.
Recently, some families opt out from holding their own wedding ceremonies and organize joint celebrations on a huge scale instead.
A most recent example took place in Riyadh in 2009, where 818 men and women got married.
The rise in costs for weddings and dowries have encouraged Saudi charities to aid those who want to get married, such as the Ibn Baz Foundation.
The Saudi Credit and Savings Bank also lends up SR30,000 to those who earn less than SR7,000 a month.
“There is a long stretch between what one earns and what it will cost that person to get married. There is no such thing as middle class people. You are either rich or struggling to support yourself,” said 40-year-old Saudi Ahmad Al-Thubaiti.
He claimed that getting married nowadays was almost impossible without the help of family and friends. He said that the only solution young Saudis have is to take out a bank loan and then attempt to pay it back later.
Hattan Zainy, a 45-year-old father of four, said that it took him seven years to repay his debts to his bank and friends just to make his wedding ceremony a reality.
“I was loaned over SR120,000, which took care of the wedding and our home, not to mention the honeymoon. It was only three months later that I started paying back the loan. I started to feel the pressure because one third of my salary was going to the bank and the cost of living is continuing to rise,” he said.
“The time when the whole family and neighbors came together to help newlywed people is gone. Now it is either the case that you do not get married and start saving money or get a bank loan. Whatever the situation, it is getting worse and is not getting any easier for us,” adds 37-year-old single Saudi Bandar.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 6 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 6 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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