JEDDAH: Like any other soon-to-wed couple, Sarah and Ibrahim were impatiently waiting for their big day this month. But little did they know that their wedding would fall victim to a diplomatic crisis between their countries.
Sarah, a Yemeni, was running from one shop to another ever since the wedding day was confirmed for June 27, coinciding with the second day of Muslims’ post-Ramadan festival Eid Al-Fitr.
“I learned about the news first thing in the morning when I woke up to my fiance’s call telling me that bad news will halt our plans,” Jeddah resident Sarah told Arab News.
Ibrahim is a Qatari and was planning to leave Qatar for the wedding party in Taif.
Their plans are now on hold after a diplomatic crisis of unprecedented scale erupted in the Gulf and wider region Monday. Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over Qatar’s persistent support for extremist groups.
The couple spoke to Arab News on the condition their family names not be published.
Ibrahim, 23, said that he stormed into his parents’ room the moment he knew about the recent developments.
Sarah, 20, was born and raised in Saudi Arabia and has never been to Yemen before.
“Saudi Arabia is the only country I know and consider as a home,” she said. “I would love to visit my ancestors’ home one day, though, when the situation (in Yemen) gets better.”
Yemen joined Saudi Arabia to sever relations with Qatar.
“My fiance is a Qatari national, I’m Yemeni and living in Saudi Arabia. It’s a hopeless case… It’s closed from all sides. I feel helpless,” Sarah said.
Ibrahim told Arab News that he regrets his government’s situation with fellow GCC countries, which will affect the lives of many people.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha over the tiny Gulf state’s support for terror groups — such as the Muslim Brotherhood — and its media inciting hatred and radicalism, before ties were restored on the condition that Qatar caters to its fellow GCC members’ requests.
Last week, it seems that Riyadh’s and Abu Dhabi’s patience with Doha ran out when it became evident that the latter will not comply with its commitments pledged in 2014.
“I don’t want to think that it’s my bad luck that this is happening at this specific time, but I really hope things will get better very soon,” said Ibrahim. “What really hurts us the most is that we planned to sign the marriage contract this coming Eid to have a double joy, but now our plans have gone down the drain.”
The wedding was not the only event canceled. Ibrahim and his sisters were planning to visit the Kingdom next week to throw an early birthday party for Sarah on June 24.
“This is her first birthday after they got engaged. First times always matter… we wanted to be there,” said Ibrahim’s sister, Hanaa, who already bought the present. “I may end up mailing it to her,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim arranged a birthday cake to be sent to Sarah’s doorstep with a love note. “I don’t want her to feel my absence on this important day.”
Sarah’s mother expressed her sadness over the couple’s unknown fate.
“Despite how difficult it is for a mother to marry off her own daughter knowing that she will move to another country… like any mother, I have always dreamed of this day,” said 42-year-old Fatimah.
The families’ plans are halted for now “until further notice,” Fatimah added.
Even though the couple’s lives already started with an obstacle and both are aware that the current circumstances may lead to an unpromising future, Sarah and Ibrahim are willing and ready to go down the rabbit hole.
“Sooner or later, things will turn out just fine,” Sarah said. “I don’t want to sound too romantic, but we will tell our children how hard it was to save this marriage,” she added, laughing.