Arabs. We do things in ways so varied, so creative, convoluted at times but always effective. We burst into a scene, find some way to burn ourselves into your memory, and then exit stage left. This applies to nearly all situations, but especially – and most dramatically – when it comes to wedding proposals.
1. He dispatches his mightiest foot soldier... his mom.
We've all heard stories of couples who have met via an encounter with the guy's mother at a casual azeema, a wedding or even a funeral. It's true. No occasion is safe from the wife-hunting mama, not even the most somber ones.
It normally goes like this:
Mother sees a "decent" girl at a wedding, and she gets a vision (subhan Allah) of the girl bearing her beautiful grandchildren and raising them virtuously. She issues furtive whispers to the women to her left and right. She wants to learn everything there is to know about the girl. Then, she can't get home soon enough. She bursts into her son's room and demands that he look her up on Facebook. Does he like what he sees? Ain't no mountain high enough to keep mama getting to 'Aroussa! This is matchmaking in the fast lane, and delivered straight to your doorstep. This is the fast food of marriage proposals.
2. Cousins... need I say more?
Cousin matchmaking is almost always due to the fact that the guy knows a girl is "benit ayle"... and that's because she is from his ayle.
3. Plain old tolbe, aka the jury convenes to assess your proposal (sort of)
Your elevator's out of service because that's just happens when you live in an Arab world plagued with power outages. No matter. What better way to get the guy you've known for less than a month to prove his love for you than to climb 10 flights of stairs? He and his jaha (cohort of men typically accompanying a groom-to-be) arrive in your living room and breathlessly...ask...for...your..hand, please. This is super traditional, and usually the bride and groom say nothing, with the elders of the family waxing lyrical about uniting the families. Still, it's got its own special charm.
4. He'll secretly ask your dad for your hand before the surprise proposal
This is a cute combination of tradition and romance. He'll kill the potential drama without killing the thrill of...you know...spending the rest of your life with the person and all that. They speak man-to-man about him having his daughter for the rest of his life. And he hopes he'll say yes, say yes cause he needs to know. Hopefully, your dad's not rude, cause you know your guy's human too!
5. A dabke flash mob, brought to you by the guy who's so over traditional matchmaking but not over traditional dance
We can't say this is the most romantic gesture on earth (she has a favorite song, you know?), but the effort will be appreciated. It's a total surprise and definitely is much more groovy than being proposed to by his mom.
6. Over-the-top at Burj Khalifa
They go over-the-top with the planning to finally get to the top of the tallest building in the world. It redefines cheesy, and speaking of cheese, what's that shiny thing in your 500 Dirham quattro fromaggio pizza?
This guy is probably looking to spend a fortune on the wedding, a somewhat similar cost to your college tuition.
7. He simply... doesn't propose at all
Something also typical of Arab men in our day and age is a shaky financial situation. For this reason and the fact that he takes himself way too seriously (also not unusual in the region) he keeps you clinging to a thin and long string of hope that maybe one day you'll hear that four word question. Ladies, if it's been five years and he still needs more time and marriage is in your plans (it may not be), you need a reality check, not a ring. He's not going to commit.