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Umm Eed is a 40-year-old professional matchmaker who has arranged about 20 marriages between young Qatari men and women over the past ten years. This has secured her an outstanding reputation among female matchmakers in Qatar.
She says that she works in this field for two reasons: one being a quest for Allah's approval through arranging lawful marriages, and the second as a source of income.
There are many female matchmakers in conservative Gulf States where intermingling between the two sexes is still prohibited. They undertake the task of searching for girls of marriageable age, and then speaking with them and their families about setting them up with prospective husbands.
If the family agrees, the matchmakers present the girl and her family with a number of young men who wish to marry, along with a detailed account of each man's background. They also take pictures of the girls, and subject to their approval, present them to young men searching for wives.
The matchmaking profession is very old. However, it is still very popular in Qatar, where telephone numbers for matchmakers appear in daily and weekly newspapers, with services made available to Qatari nationals exclusively.
In an interview with Al-Shorfa, Umm Eed said the idea of working as a matchmaker came to her after one of her friends asked for her help in arranging her marriage. "I succeeded in this mission. Since then, I have become a matchmaker, a profession that has become very popular today," she said.
Ahmad ibn Abdullah supports marriages arranged by female matchmakers. "The matchmaker usually knows many women and can make a better choice. That is why I support this kind of marriage especially since their fees are not high and don't exceed 10,000 riyals in most cases," he said.
Meanwhile, Noura, a single Qatari woman, told Al-Shorfa that she decided to use the services of a matchmaker after her plan to find a husband over the Internet failed.
"I am over 35 years old and still unmarried," Noura said. "No one has ever proposed to me, in spite of the fact that I am employed. So, I thought of subscribing to a marriage site hoping that I might find the right man. And indeed, I carried on with my plan without telling my family."
"I chose a young man based on the information that he sent me. He was living in the same town and this gave us the opportunity to meet several times until we agreed about everything."
But it later turned out that the young man was already married and had children back home, Noura said, and he wanted to get married without the knowledge of his family.
"After this incident, I decided to stay away from Internet matchmaking sites and asked a traditional female matchmaker to help me because she has real and correct information about the men who are searching for wives, and I want to settle," she added.
There are no accurate statistics about the number of marriages arranged by female matchmakers or the success rate of such marriages.
Jumaa Al Nuaimi, a social researcher, believes that these marriages can succeed or fail like any other marriage. "The majority of the matchmakers' customers search for their life partners in communities that are still conservative, and that is why the likelihood of success or failure for such marriages remains unknown," Jumaa said.