Instead of the usual goods asked as dowry, such as camels and money, one Yemeni father asked his future son-in-law one million Facebook 'likes' for the privilege of marrying his daughter.
According to Arab media reports, Salem Ayash, a well-known Facebook user from Western Yemen, explained to a young suitor that he would grant his wish of marrying his daughter if the suitor managed to raise an extensive number of likes for his Facebook page dedicated to fighting rising dowry prices in Yemen.
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In an interview with Arabic CNN, the father explained that there is a social motive to his strange request, and that he means well: "My reason for such a request is soaring dowry prices.
I also wanted to encourage young people to surf informative social media sites instead of wasting their time."
The father stressed that he is not giving the intended groom a time limit: "He can take a month, a year, or even two years to collect the requested number of likes."
However, he admitted that he would be willing to show compassion if the task proved to be too difficult.
The father's Facebook page was flooded with responses. One wrote that he is thankful for Ayash's worthy efforts of raising awareness on dowry payments.
As of Tuesday evening, the number of 'likes' at the Facebook page was 25,744.
The issue of dowry payment is a popular subject of discussion in Yemen, in light of the rising prices fathers demand in exchange for their daughters' hands in marriage.
Two months ago, dozens of young men from southwestern Yemen held a protest demanding to reduce the dowry prices. Yemen is a very poor country with a fairly high unemployment rate, and the young men simply cannot afford to pay the customary fee.
The catalyst for the demonstration were 500,000 Yemeni Rial (about $ 2,500) that one father demanded for his daughter – an unaffordable fee for young suitors.
The men threatened to intensify their actions if families refuse to lower the dowry price, and argued that the reduction of the amount would help reduce the high number of bachelors in Yemeni society (30%) and encourage young people to marry.
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