Tue, 27 Jul 2021

CAIRO, June 18 (Xinhua) -- After several friends successfully got married thanks to her matchmaking efforts, Sohair Mansour, a 55-year-old Egyptian woman, was encouraged to establish a professional business to help more to find the other half and tie the knot.

As a former manager of public relations and now a manager of a marriage matchmaking office located in the highly populous province of Giza, Mansour collects information about families in the neighboring districts and publishes details of marriage seekers on Facebook and YouTube.

In 2020, 500 couples inside and outside Egypt got married as a result of Mansour's matchmaking. Every day, she receives hundreds of phone calls asking for dating meetings between families.

Many families don't have good social relations and prefer to consult a matchmaker, Mansour explained.

Egypt has recently witnessed a rise in the number of marriage matchmaking offices, both physical and online, which play the same role as an al-Khatbah (matchmaker in Arabic) that had long helped faciliate the marriage in both Egyptian villages and cities until more women began to receive education in the 1970s.

Nowadays, the traditional matchmakers have almost vanished in cities but are still considerably visible in rural areas.

With the sharp decline in the number of marriage registration in Egypt, matchmaking started to flourish again at the beginning of 2000, Mansour said, adding she takes about 10,000 Egyptian pounds (638 U.S. dollars) from families when the couples agree to conclude the marriage contract.

According to a report of Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics in 2020, there were more than 760,000 men and women aged between 40 and 50 who remained unmarried.

Mohab Zakaria, a 35-year-old accountant working for a bank, said he saw Mansour in a TV program and contacted her later for help.

"I saw several photos of women and after three weeks I met a suitable one and we happily got married," Zakaria said.

I was confused at the beginning about getting married in such an old-fashioned way but I have to say I was lucky to meet my wife, he added.

Ahmad Zayed, an Egyptian sociology professor and a member of the National Council for Women, told Xinhua that there are more than 15,000 online marriage offices in Egypt.

Acknowledging the existence of the marriage offices as a technological development in matchmaking, Zayed called for drafting a law to standardize them to prevent violations and maintain the families' bonds.

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