Matchmaking a growing business

One matchmaker, who is well-known in the matrimonial business, says she only handles marriage proposals from those serious about getting married and not dating.  

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Mai al Abria –
Muscat, Feb. 17 –

Matchmaking — once practised by well-respected community elders who rarely shared the secrets of their trade — is now growing rapidly online, with a new generation of matchmakers adopting social media to help prospective brides and grooms tie the proverbial knot. ‘Khataba Omaniya’, meaning Omani matchmaker, is a generic title of a slew of new online sites and accounts that have proliferated across a number of social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.
These matrimonial sites offer a wide array of matchmaking services that involve helping people to meet, communicate, interact and eventually entering into wedlock. They enable people who are single or looking for a second wife or searching for partners they are compatible with, start to interact and eventually get to know each other so well that they can start a relationship independent of the matchmaker.
The matchmaker is responsible for bringing people who he/she feels are a perfect match together. When a person registers with a matchmaker, the matchmaker would ask some basic questions, such as the name of the candidate’s tribe, background, age, job, likes and dislikes in the prospective partner, education and so on.
One matchmaker, who is well-known in the matrimonial business, says she only handles marriage proposals from those serious about getting married and not dating. The fee is set at RO 30 at the time of registration, but upon a successful match, the bride and bridegroom pay RO 120 each.
“At first, I began to offer my services as a matchmaker for free, but for financial reasons, I eventually developed this service into a full-fledged business,” the matchmaker, who did not wish to be identified, said.
Matchmaking is handled with great deal of care and discretion, according to the veteran matchmaker. In particular, care is taken to ensure the prospective bride and her family are not embarrassed or slighted by the prospective groom’s actions or indiscretions.
“The guy does not get to meet the girl directly or obtain her phone number unless he meets her family first. They then get to decide whether or not to take things forward.”
It is not uncommon for men to agree for a meeting with the girl’s family, but fail to show up — actions that the matchmaker frowns upon. “I feel sorry for these girls who keenly anticipate these meetings but are stood up by these ungallant men. I now entertain only serious proposals and requests, and I know they are serious only when they pay the registration fees.” Compatibility is the single most important factor in the matchmaking trade, she stressed. “Compatibility issues are taken very seriously in the matchmaking business, and I take adequate steps to ensure that a boy and girl are compatible.
Of course, compatibility is not a full-proof science – there are couples who got along very well before marriage but got separated after tying the knot due to compatibility issues.”
Online matchmaking sites are popular with Omani men and women who believe they are past the ‘most eligible’ threshold for marriage. Some desperate people also falsify their details in the hope of snagging a good match.
Take the example of 34-year-old Muna, who had recently approached a matchmaker for assistance.
“Having crossed my thirties, my chances of getting married were not too bright. In desperation, I decided to seek out a matchmaker. But in the information that I had disclosed, I did not furnish my exact age – a mistake that came back to haunt me. Not long thereafter, a man came to propose to me but found out I was older than I had claimed. I was truly embarrassed.”
Muna is determined to get the help of a matchmaker in her quest for wedded bliss, but she urges prospective brides to furnish their correct details because, as she stresses, the “entire matchmaking process and the build-up to a relationship between two individuals requires truthfulness”.
Muna cautions against matchmakers who charge exorbitant amounts of up to RO 1,000 per couple upon a successful match. “I think since she is doing this business for a good cause, she should keep the prices affordable. After all, the cost of wedding arrangements is huge,” she lamented.
Al Kharousi, a 27-year-old man, opines that prospective brides and grooms have their own reasons and circumstances for depending on matchmakers to find suitable spouses. “For me, although I am still relatively young, I stammer when speaking. I proposed to many girls but with no luck. So I sought the help of a matchmaker. She is still searching for the right girl for me.”