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To the sound of drums and flutes, freshly washed Palestinian The groom dances with his brothers, cousins ​​and friends, waiting anxiously for the arrival of his veiled bride in her sparkling dress.

It might be normal Gaza Wedding, except for the venue – not a luxurious ballroom by the seaside, but a narrow alley Al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City.

Welcome to the new weddings of the pandemic era in Gaza: They are small due to strict crowd restrictions, take place in the open air, and finish early to get around curfews.

And it is much cheaper than usual.

The groom said, “I am not completely happy that I would have preferred to have it in the wedding hall.” Mohammed Ahmed Ashour, Wearing a burgundy jacket and tie.

But for his family, the 24-year-old merchant told AFP in between dances that the watered-down weddings also brought welcome savings at a time of economic hardship.

Palestinian groom Muhammad Ahmad Ashour dances with his male relatives and friends while waiting for his bride during his wedding amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Gaza City.

Palestinian groom Muhammad Ahmad Ashour dances with his male relatives and friends while waiting for his bride during his wedding amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Gaza City. Photo: Mahmoud Hams / AFP / Getty Images

Weddings in the Palestinian coastal sector are usually extravagant, and are held in large halls dotted on the Mediterranean coast.

Despite staggering poverty and unemployment rates that stood at around 50 percent even before the pandemic, many Gazans are spending several thousand dollars on weddings.

This year, the virus has further affected the economy in the Strip, which has been under the Israeli blockade since 2007 and is currently spreading rapidly throughout Gaza.

In recent weeks, injuries have multiplied and that “the situation is out of control,” warned Dr. Ahmed Al-Jaddba of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

To contain the spread of the Coronavirus, the Islamist Hamas movement that runs the Strip, like authorities elsewhere, has banned large indoor gatherings.

Families were forced to hold smaller weddings in less fairytale venues – such as alleys and backyards – but the packages were saved in the process.

Ashour said that these days, many couples choose daytime weddings that last “a little over an hour”.

Once the Assyrian wedding was over, the musicians – three percussionists and a traditional reed flute player – returned home before the evening curfew.

They booked more shows for the next day, as their small and mobile business is now booming.

Palestinian groom Ahmed Omar Khallah takes his veiled bride from a beauty salon in the northern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian groom Ahmed Omar Khallah takes his veiled bride from a beauty salon in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo: Mahmoud Hams / AFP / Getty Images

After a few days they entered JabaliaCity in the north of the strip, for a wedding Ahmed Omar KhallahHe is a 28-year-old postman.

Khallah said that the timing is also right for him: “There is no work or money, but we have saved a lot by getting married now.”

He used to take his bride from a beauty salon called “Houris al-Ain,” an Islamic term for the beautiful eyes of the women of Paradise.

Its owner, Fadoo, He emphasized that “a lot of young couples prefer to get married during the Corona period because the costs are lower. They don’t have to rent wedding halls or pay for big buffets. “

Fadawi has changed his work hours to accommodate the new routine as Hamas police patrols enforce night curfews.

He said, “We start work now at about 7:00 in the morning, because people only get married in celebrations until 5:00 pm.”

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