Hundreds take part in Yemen mass wedding

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The event was organized by a local charity to help young people who are unable to afford expensive ceremonies.

Dressed in traditional white robes, with white scarves wrapped around their heads, about 250 grooms filled a sports hall, carrying curved golden swords on their shoulders.

The women waited at home for them.

Among the grooms was Abdulghani Ali Ghalib, who said he was excited about his big day.

“I'm overwhelmed with such great joy that I can't describe this blessed and happy moment which also overwhelms all the grooms. God willing, it will be a blessed wedding,” he said.

Mass weddings have gained ground in recent years in Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries.

Apart from arranging the ceremony, the organizers also help the couples in other ways.

“We began with educating them before marriage, and then carried out medical examinations to detect genetic diseases and dangerous viruses. Thirdly, we provide limited financial assistance,” said Abdulsalam al-Salami, who chairs the charity that organized the event.

“We also provide household items for the new house, then the feast. This collective wedding relieves the grooms of many burdens that he would have if he were to hold as a wedding on his own,” Salami said.

Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa attended the ceremony along with government ministers and religious leaders.

Preacher Abdulrahman al-Emad commended the efforts of the charity.

“The organizers are keen to help only those who have a job or a source of livelihood, so that these marriages don't have problems and end in divorce,” he said.

A third of Yemen's 25 million-strong population lives under the poverty line of two U.S. Dollars a day and unemployment is estimated at around 35 percent - with youth unemployment at 60 percent.

For decades Yemen has suffered critical food shortage affecting nearly half the country’s population, including hundreds of thousands of children.

A popular uprising against a decades-old dictatorship and the consequent instability further damaged the country’s already poor infrastructure and weakened the government’s ability to provide basic services to the poor.

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