Egypt’s marriage ‘crisis’

A couple of interesting pieces on the perceived marriage crisis in Egypt. The high cost of marriage (about 4 times the average per capita GDP, according to one study) versus the low average income keeps many young Egyptians ‘in limbo, waiting to amass the necessary funds to enter marriage and the “adult” stage of their lives’. This, however, is tied to other factors, such as the entry of women into the workforce and the possibility of spinsterhood becoming more acceptable, with women now openly discussing whether to remain single or not.The marriage crisis has all sorts of knock-on effects on gender attitudes, as highlighted in the Diab article I linked to the other day.

While I was in Egypt I met several young guys who complained about the difficulty of getting married – interestingly though (and this is totally anecdotal and unrepresentative, but still) they always highlighted the financial difficulty rather than the reluctance of Egyptian girls. Mohammed – a native Cairene but living in Bahariyya – told me that he had given up on marrying an Egyptian girl because ‘the family want too much – a car, a good job, everything.’ He had had a French girlfriend and a Japanese girlfriend, he said, and with them the idea of marriage had been ‘more possible.’

Ursula Lindsey makes the point, however, that you can’t really call something a ‘crisis’ that has been a problem for a century. The changing nature of the marriage problem has led some to characterise it as acute, caused by changing trends in women working and becoming more career- than family-oriented. (Read to the end of the Arabist post for some interesting male comments on this.) Yet the crisis is not acute and has been going on for a long time, without an end in sight as long as Egypt’s economic woes persist.

In other marriage-related news, this is pretty sad/horrible.

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