CAIRO: Rumors of a LE 4,000 fee for issuing marriage contracts to be applied starting yesterday, Aug. 1, had couples diving head first into matrimonial bliss, dodging what was to be an additional sum to the already hefty cost of marriage.
News had circulated throughout Egypt that the Ministry of Justice issued a decree stipulating the extra fee, but sources inside the marriage registrars department at the ministry denied the rumors.
“This is simply a rumor that has no basis whatsoever, a ministry source told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Meanwhile, state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported in its Thursday issue that after the news broke out, engaged couples in Alexandria rushed to the ma’azoun, or marriage registrar, to get married before the end of July, before the new decree is implemented.
“Couples are lining up in front of marriage registrar’s offices to book an appointment, the paper said.
For the majority of couples in Egypt, LE 4,000 is not affordable, especially when in some cases the cost of the marriage totals less than this amount.
“I paid LE 1,000 for the wedding ring and the dowry and we are going to live at my parents house, my bride didn’t have to get any furniture except a new bed for the room so how could I pay LE 4,000 for the contract alone when my entire marriage will cost around LE 2,500, said Ahmed Osman, a driver in his late 20s who is getting married in October.
Other people predict that this will further impede marriage, raising the rate of unmarried women and men in Egypt.
“The age of marriage has risen and a lot of men and women are not getting married because of the high cost of marriage and with the marriage licenses also going up, I don’t think anyone will get married at all, said Soraya Abdel Wahab, a housewife.
While the Ministry of Endowments was not aware of the rumors, when Daily News Egypt contacted Dar El Ifta, the authority responsible for issuing religious editcs, they said that they have not received “any official statement from any government body saying that the fees for katb kitab, Muslim marriage contract-signing ceremony, have been raised.
Muslim marriage registrars also gave similar responses. Shawky El Bastawisy, a ma azoun, also denied the rumors. “This is a false rumor, nothing is going to be enforced starting Aug. 1.
He explained that currently they charge couples LE 250 and an additional three percent of the dowry.
“The [personal status] court didn’t inform us of such a decision and I was only there yesterday so it is definitely a rumor, said Amin Mohamed Ismail, another ma azoun in Heliopolis, right before he left to officiate a wedding where he was charging the bride and groom LE 3,000.
But this is not because of a decree or anything, these cover the expenses of all the documents and the office fees, which take into account electricity bills, and so on.