Getting married in Kuwait means happiness, family bliss, and a lot of jewellery. Other than attending a party for the women at the expense of the husband-to-be, women have few responsibilities when it comes to marital commitment. Besides the dowry that is paid to the bride, the wedding party, and other expenses, the bride receives a Shabka, one of the most favourite parts of a wedding.
The Shabka tradition also known to exist in other Arab countries entails the mother-in-law to gift a set of gold ornaments to her daughter-in-law which usually consists of a set of nucleus, earrings, bracelet, and a ring. Depending on the size and the jewelry in the set, the price of Shabka differs and may range between KD 1000 and KD 5000, or above. Usually, the Shabka is made of yellow gold. The modern styles of Shabkas are also adorned with diamonds.
Fatma, a 29-year-old bride, has chosen a white gold Shabka with diamonds. “In my family, it is shameful not to have a diamond shabka. All my cousins received a diamond shabka, so I also chose a set with diamonds,” she said, explaining that she went with her fiancÈ and his sister to buy the shabka. “I chose it but he paid for it,” she said. Fatma’s shabka cost KD 3500 after a lot of bargaining in the shop,” she said. One of the features of the shabka is its investment value. Due to its high price and value, shabka may serve as security in case of need.
Amal, a 27-year-old girl narrated that after a little more than a year of marriage, she started having differences with her husband. “We decided to separate,” the mother of a two-month-old baby said. “I moved back to my family home, and I needed money for the baby but my husband refused to pay me for the child’s essential needs,” she said. She explained that she needed a maid to stay with the baby while she was at work. “Under these circumstances, I was forced to sell the shabka. In fact, I do not feel guilty for doing so because I do not have any emotions for this shabka.
I am angry at the one who bought it. It cost KD 2500, and I sold it for KD 1700, which is very good,” said Amal. Young generations prefer the white gold shabka. “It is a tradition to accompany the future mother-in-law to buy the shabka. Because my mother is dead, my two sisters and my mother-in-law accompanied me to buy the shabka from Mubarakiya. The shabka I chose four years ago cost KD1200. I keep it at home as it has emotional value for me,” says 50- year-old Huda. The shabka of Huda, a 30-year-old Kuwaiti, is made of white gold and decorated with zircon stones. “I find the white gold more fashionable.
Yellow gold is old fashioned,” noted Huda. But 50-year-old Nida from Jordan chose yellow gold shabka with some precious stones when she married 25 years ago. “I and my husband did not want our families to interfere in our choice, so I went with my husband alone to the gold market in Kuwait city and I bought one. In fact, after all these years, I do not remember what the price was. For me, this shabka is precious and I would never sell it. In Jordan, we have the same tradition of buying the shabka,” she said. For some nationalities, it is not necessary for the bride to choose the shabka herself. “As part of the marriage rituals and traditions, the husband’s family has to buy the shabka for the bride. I am practical and believe in useful things, so I chose the shabka myself and bought her a pure gold one without any stones to preserve the best value of it.
That was 11 years ago, and it cost me KD 300 only. Today, its value is about KD 1400 as gold was much cheaper in those days,” stressed 42-year-old Yunis from Jordan. In Kuwait, the most popular gold markets are the Mubarakiya gold market, the gold market in Salmiya at the old Souq, in Hawalli at Bin Khaldoun Street, and in Fahaheel. Also, there are some jewelry shops in various shopping malls, especially Layla Gallery, Salhiya, Al Raya, and others. These stores mostly provide brand jewelries that are not available in the traditional markets.