The first time I decided to marry my husband I backed out at the last minute, crying on the driveway of one of his family member's house. I knew to marry me the man that I loved risked alienating his family, and losing his job since he did not meet any of the requirements that allows a marriage to a non-Omani under the Sultanate's [unislamic and totally racist] marriage law regarding wedding foreigners.
In the end, we decided to marry anyway, but no Imam in Oman seemed willing to preform the marriage ceremony (melka/nikah) without permission (without a bribe of 300-800 OMR). So I borrowed a designer Omani dress from my friend, and we drove up to the UAE.
Same thing went on there though, alas, as all the GCC signed an agreement to not allow other Gulf states locals to marry non-locals without permission of their governments.
For a bribe of my entire maher (marriage dower) one creep was willing to do it, but that is until he found out all I asked for, for my maher was a seven rial ring and a box to keep it in.
One Tunisian Imam in Al Ain was willing to until some locals talked him out of it, telling him he would lose his job and visa to stay in the UAE. [BTW PLEASE DON'T COPY OR TAKE ANY PICTURES OFF OF THIS POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]
So we drove back unsuccessful. I was so hot and tired. My Omani dress was made of silk but so heavily beaded it weighed a tonne, and some of the gold threads from the embroidery kept getting caught on the dress. I was also totally veiled with a beaded fabric burka over my face the whole day as it is traditional for an Omani bride to remain veiled until after the ceremony, so I was majorly hot and exhausted and sad. The burka was made of velvet, not like the soft chiffon of a black niqab, and it was annoying me after over nine hours in it.
As soon as I got home, and my intended left me to try to find an Imam in Oman, I took off the dress, and washed off my beautifully applied makeup that I'd wanted my husband to see once we were married.
I went to sleep, early, after magraib prayer, simply because I was exhausted and heartbroken. It sickened me as a Muslim, these marriage laws, as if saying that one country was more suited for another, or the non-GCC one less of a person deserving of love happiness.
Shortly after my husband-to-be phoned me and told me to hurry and come down stairs. He'd found a lot of imams who agreed to do the melka/nikah but then backed out at the last minute. He'd found someone who said they were okay with risking their job in Oman to do what is allowed in Islam but didn't want him to have time to think it over and change his mind.
I didn't have time to get back into my wedding gear. I didn't have time to do my hair or makeup. I was wearing palazzo pants and a grubby t-shirt as my pjs, and that is what I wore when I got married, under a plain back (albeit designer) abaya that I tossed on. I DID wear my wedding sandals though, which were gold.
Normally in Oman, someone who doesn't have a male Muslim relative has to go to the Omani court to have the court act as one's wali/guardian to make sure all their rights are upheld and best interests at heart before the marriage is allowed. So girls don't run off with creeps and losers, generally.
But since our marriage was without permission we couldn't do this, so the Imam had to act as my wali (which is allowed in Islam). Which is why he took an extra lot of time with me explaining the rights and obligations of a husband and wife in Islam before he agreed to marry us.
My husband went inside the Imam's house with his 2 witnesses, and I sat in the car. Later the Imam came out and spoke to me through the rolled down window. He asked me if I agreed to my maher and informed me I could and should ask for more.
Less than ten rials is not an Omani-style maher. A usual Omani maher on the low end is 3000 rials (which is a little less than 10, 000 US dollars). Instead of asking for a high maher, I requested a specific maher of 300 rials a month plus 150 rials if I had children in the case of divorce where I would claim abuse or neglect. My husband would also grant me divorce for any reason if I asked it of him, though if I didn't state abuse or neglect but just unhappiness then I would not receive anything more than 4 months worth of 300 rials which I believed was fair since I didn't intend to let our marriage go to divorce but better safe than sorry. (Alot of women think that they can put it into their agreement that a husband can't take a second wife which they really can't----it doesn't hold up in Islamic law---and they forget that THEY CAN ask for something in the case of divorce or if he does). I HIGHLY recommend women not okay with the concept protect themselves with asking for a 'muakher'. A muakher is different from a maher in that it is paid in case of divorce.
This ammount would be paid until my remarriage or any future children coming of age. I find a 'muakher' to be more practical than a high maher which is usually wasted in showing off or the wedding itself. My actual maher was a peice of Omani silver jewelry and a box to keep it in costing under 10 rials (30 USD dollars).
After the melka was completed, and I told the Imam I wasn't coerced into the wedding, the Imam's family hosted us for a meal, which was eaten seperately, women with women, and men with men. So really I didn't see my husband until the night was close to over.
After that we left, husband and wife under Islamic law. We did go to get our photo taken so I changed into my Omani dress again, but was so tired I forgot to put the shawl on again over the hijab, or put on any ammount of makeup which would have made the wedddings pics alot nicer (and my cream coloured wedding dress less orange).
As it was, the photographer decided the whiten the dark circles under our tired eyes, so we look kind of alien. They also whitened my husband, and so, he hates our wedding photos. We never did a re-take, as I returned my friend's dress.
Being married under Omani law was a bigger deal. We had a baby before we had permission, so our case could not be decided by the Interior Ministry, but by the courts.
Sneaking the baby out before permission in order to get the paperwork for an Omani passport for our little darling was another ordeal. I probably shouldn't write it here, because it was shway shway illegal. Forgiveably so, thankfully.
Once our case was in the courts it was recommended that no action be taken other than that my husband pay a fine. To get the paperwork done in order for this recommendation scans had to be taken of our aqed nikah (the paperwork signed by Imam and witnesses + ourselves and since I didn't have a father the Omani government wanted my Embassy to sign it allowing it). We also got paperwork from the Islamic Ministy saying that I was a Muslim ect... It took a long, long time. Some parts of it are still in the process.
But I am lucky though. I was told if I was from Morocco or some poorer Asian, Eastern European, or Arab country, I would not have been given a friendly recommendation by the court, and could have been deported and my husband jailed. Which is why I say the law is a tad racist, as the Imam who married us had a very devout and perfectly adapted to Omani society wife, who happened to BE Moroccan. I undersand fully why such laws exist as many harmful marriages happened before the law regulating the ease of marrying foreigners, but I think each case should be individually processed for its merits, rather than certain countries blacklisted, ect.