Two Saudi brides who demanded the lowest dowry were rewarded with a cash prize at a mass wedding in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province on Monday night, Arab News in Jeddah reported. The grooms accepted the cash award of SR15,000, or $4,000, on behalf of their brides at the charity event, which was meant to help newlyweds start their families.
The youngest groom with the lowest dowry at the function was a young man with special needs. There were also raffle drawings for household utensils and gold jewelry at the wedding, which married 420 couples. The chairman of the Charity Society for Simplifying Marriage and Family Care of Ahsa, which organized the event, told Arab News it was the largest mass marriage the charity has arranged in the Eastern Province.
Islamic law requires the groom to pay a dowry, or mahar, as a gift of money or goods to his future wife at the time of the wedding. Islam does not set rates and maximum or minimum limits for the dowry but recommends moderation. The average dowry for middle-class families in Saudi Arabia is SR30,000 or $8,000, but it can be hundreds of thousands of riyals for the wealthy. The bride often uses the money to cover wedding costs or to furnish their new house, according to Gulf News.
Enforcement of the Islamic dowry has not been without controversy, because women who divorce their husbands must return the dowry. Many Saudi women who are victims of domestic violence have been denied divorce in Shariah courts until they pay back the dowry money, despite suffering under the hand of abusive husbands, the Saudi Gazette reported.