UAE Launches Online Weddings Amid COVID-19 Controls

A picture taken on March 28, 2020 shows a deserted street in the Emirate city of Dubai amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. KARIM SAHIB / AFP.

 

The United Arab Emirates has launched an online marriage service that allows couples to wed amid restrictions on movement and interaction imposed to counter the deadly coronavirus.

The UAE has taken strict measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 respiratory disease, which has claimed the lives of well over 100,000 people worldwide.

The justice ministry said on Sunday that citizens and residents can set a date for an online wedding ceremony conducted via video link with a cleric after their paperwork is submitted and approved — also online, according to the UAE’s official news agency WAM.

The procedure will see a cleric confirm the identity of the couple and witnesses, before a marriage certificate is relayed to a specialised court for validation.

The couple will receive confirmation of their marriage certificate via text message.

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The service was launched “to maintain the health of the public and that of people working in courts and to limit the presence of employees”, WAM reported.

This comes after Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, said on Wednesday it suspended “until further notice” marriages and divorces in the emirate. No announcement has been made about divorce proceedings.

Dubai has temporarily restricted the movement of people and vehicles, except for those working in “vital sectors” and with “essential needs” — such as food or medicine.

The UAE has recorded more than 3,700 coronavirus cases, including 20 deaths.

AFP

Australian Couples Cancel Weddings As Coronavirus Spread

(PICTURE USED TO DEPICT THE STORY) Justice of the Peace, Miles M. Keegan performs a wedding ceremony outside of Maricopa County Clerk of Superior Court on March 20, 2020 in Surprise, Arizona. AFP

 

A cluster of 35 coronavirus cases linked to a marriage ceremony near Sydney and new government measures have hit Australia’s multi-billion-dollar wedding industry and forced many tearful couples to cancel the big day.

Restrictions on gatherings of more than 100 people were announced this week in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.

Among the new rules was the stipulation that indoor events should allow at least four square metres (43 square feet) per person, while the government has advised people to stay at least one metre away from one another.

The outbreak and new rules have thrown the wedding industry — worth around Aus$4 billion (US$2.3 billion) a year in Australia — into limbo.

“You’re not just dealing with having to cancel an event… that people have been literally dreaming and thinking non-stop about,” Sydney-based wedding planner Lara Beesley told AFP on Saturday.

“It’s very heartbreaking to see and there’s been lots of teary phone calls.”

From florists to photographers, those working in the industry were already feeling the impact as weddings were put off indefinitely, she added.

A total of 35 cases of the virus have now been traced back to the wedding south of Sydney earlier this month, health authorities said.

Groom Scott Maggs told the Sydney Morning Herald the discovery of a cluster linked to his wedding had come as a shock.

“There was no hysteria or bans on March 6, it just wasn’t on the radar,” he said.

Couples are being urged to consider postponing or hosting smaller events, Elise James from wedding planning agency Easy Weddings said. “We’re encouraging couples to do that where safe,” she said.

Australia’s confirmed cases climbed to more than 900 on Saturday, with seven deaths in the country since the outbreak began.

AFP

At Least 20 Wounded, Many Feared Dead In Kabul Wedding Blast

File photo of an explosion in Kabul.

 

At least 20 people were wounded in a blast at a Kabul wedding late Saturday, a local hospital said, while a witness told AFP he had seen many dead bodies at the scene.

The explosion came just as the US and the Taliban are widely expected to sign off on a deal that would see American troops begin to depart Afghanistan in return for various security assurances from the insurgents.

“#Kabul #Afghanistan explosion in a hotel during a wedding party, about 20 patients arrived up to now at our hospital #masscasualty,” the Italian-run Emergency hospital of Kabul said on Twitter.

Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the blast occurred in a west Kabul wedding hall around 10:40 pm (1810 GMT).

He shared on Facebook photos showing several apparent bodies inside a dining area.

Afghan weddings are epic and vibrant affairs, with hundreds or often thousands of guests celebrating inside industrial-scale wedding halls where the men are usually segregated from the women and children.

Mohammad Farhag, who had been at the wedding, said he had been in the women’s section when he heard a huge blast in the men’s area.

“Everyone ran outside shouting and crying,” he said.

“For about 20 minutes the hall was full of smoke. Almost everyone in the men’s section is either dead or wounded. Now, two hours after the blast, they are still taking bodies out of the hall.”

No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Little Security

Government spokesman Feroz Bashari said the blast was “a clear sign that terrorists can’t see Afghans express happiness.”

“You can’t make them bow by killing them. The perpetrators of tonight’s attack shall be held responsible,” he wrote on Twitter.

Insurgents have periodically struck Afghan weddings, which are seen as easy targets because they frequently lack rigorous security precautions.

On July 12, at least six people were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a wedding ceremony in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. The Islamic State group, which has a growing footprint in the region, claimed the blast.

Expectations are rising for a deal in which the US would start withdrawing its approximately 14,000 soldiers from Afghanistan after a two-decade war that has turned into a stalemate.

US President Donald Trump has said since the start of his presidency that he wants troops out of the country where Washington has spent more than $1 trillion on military operations and reconstruction since 2001.

In return for the US departure, the Taliban would commit to various security guarantees, including that the Islamist hardliners who long harboured Al-Qaeda would not allow Afghanistan to once again become a jihadist safe haven.

On Friday, Ahmadullah Azkhundzada, brother of Afghan Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, was among four people killed in a blast at a mosque in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan, a senior official with the provincial government said.

Dwayne Johnson Shares Photos From His Wedding In Hawaii

Dwayne Johnson, The Rock has announced that he has married girlfriend Lauren Hashian.

The actor made the announcement by sharing a series of photos from their wedding on his official Instagram handle @therock.

He shared with the caption, “We do. August 18th, 2019. Hawaii. Pōmaikaʻi (blessed).”

His new wife, Lauren Hashian, also shared photos from the wedding on her Instagram handle, using the same caption.

The announcement was met with a lot of congratulatory messages from their friends and fans.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We do. August 18th, 2019. Hawaii. Pōmaikaʻi (blessed) @laurenhashianofficial❤️ @hhgarcia41📸

A post shared by therock (@therock) on

Johnson’s new movie “Hobbs & Shaw” is another partnership which has got the actor excited.

After the second week of box office business, the movie has hit $437million worldwide.

Ozil Slammed For Reportedly Inviting Erdogan To His Wedding

Mesut Ozil                                                                         Recep Erdogan

 

Arsenal’s German midfielder Mesut Ozil has been criticised for reportedly inviting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to his wedding as his witness.

Bild on Sunday ran the story on its front page with Ozil, 30, and his model fiancee Amine Gulse, 25, a former Miss Turkey, pictured inside presenting Erdogan with an invite to their wedding this summer.

Ozil, who has Turkish family roots, sparked controversy last May when he was photographed with Erdogan, raising questions about his loyalty to Germany on the eve of their disastrous World Cup campaign.

He quit the national squad soon after, accusing German football officials of racism.

Bild did not disclose the wedding date in the report which stated Ozil wants Erdogan to attend as his witness.

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The reported invite drew sharp criticism in Germany, whose government has been sharply a odds with Ankara over a range of human rights questions in recent years.

“I think it’s inappropriate,” German politician Cem Ozdemir, whose parents are Turkish, told Bild on Sunday.

“Everyone is allowed to invite who they want to their wedding,” he said. “That also obviously applies to Mesut Ozil, but former and current national team players are also role models.

“They must ask themselves if they live up to that role, when they give themselves up to autocrats, who enrich themselves at the expense of their country and make dissenters disappear into pits.”

Ozil has dated Gulse since 2017 and the couple announced their engagement in June 2018.

The Arsenal midfielder, a third-generation German, sparked controversy when he was pictured alongside Erdogan last May, raising questions about his loyalty to Germany on the eve of their disastrous World Cup campaign in Russia.

Criticism intensified after the red-faced defending champions crashed out of the first round of the World Cup.

In the wake of the World Cup fiasco, Ozil announced his resignation from the national squad in a withering statement citing “racism and disrespect”, aimed partly at German Football Association president Reinhard Grindel.

AFP

Bollywood Star Couple Announce Wedding Dates

Indian Bollywood actors Ranveer Singh (L) and Deepika Padukone attend the BIG Star Entertainment Awards 2015 ceremony in Mumbai. AFP

 

Bollywood superstars Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh announced Sunday that they are tying the knot, ending months of speculation about their relationship.

The pair confirmed they will be married next month in a statement posted on their official Twitter accounts in Hindi and English.

“With the blessings of our families, gives us immense joy in sharing that our wedding is set to take place on the 14th and 15th of November, 2018,” it stated.

Padukone, 33, and Singh 32, reportedly started dating in 2013 but had kept details of their relationship largely out of the public eye.

Padukone is one of Bollywood’s highest-paid stars and one to break into Hollywood, starring in “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” opposite Vin Diesel.

The soon-to-be-weds have also shared the silver screen together, including a controversial Bollywood epic earlier this year that sparked violent protests in northern India.

Padukone played a legendary Hindu queen and Singh a medieval Muslim ruler in the flick, which angered hardliners, some of whom burned down cinemas and made threats towards the two stars.

Singh debuted in 2010 and has worked in 14 films. Padukone has acted in about 40 movies since 2006.

AFP

Austria FM Bowing To Putin At Wedding Dance Goes Viral

Russian President, Vladimir Putin dances with Austrian Foreign Minister, Karin Kneissl during her wedding over the weekend.

 

The Austrian foreign minister’s deep bow to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a dance at her wedding made waves Monday, causing more furore for the already-controversial visit.

Putin was one of around 100 guests at Karin Kneissl’s wedding to a businessman in southeastern Austria Saturday.

Since the private visit was announced last week, the opposition has criticised Kneissl, saying the country’s reputation for political neutrality has been damaged. Austria currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency.

Adding to the fire Monday was a screen grab from a video made by the pro-Kremlin RT television network that shows Kneissl, radiant, bending her knees in a deep curtesy bow in front of Putin at the end of a dance with him.

The photo was widely published in Austrian media on Monday with headlines such as “Kneissl prostrates on her knees in front of Putin”.

“How unprofessional can a foreign minister be — to produce photos that show you kneeling in front of Putin? Even if it’s just a funny courtesy gesture after a dance, one knows that one should not produce such photos,” left-wing essayist Robert Misik said.

Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), who was also a wedding guest, defended Kneissl, saying she had attended the prestigious Vienna dance school Elmayer and knew her manners as the gesture was a tradition after the dance and Putin in turn bowed.

“Dancing wedding diplomacy with politeness, friendliness and good manners, one can’t represent Austria any better than this!” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Though Kneissl is independent, she was nominated for the foreign minister post by Strache’s FPOe, which since 2016 has had a “cooperation pact” with Putin’s United Russia party.

Thomas Schaefer-Elmayer, head of the Vienna dance school Elmayer, reportedly confirmed that the gesture was done at the end of the dance as “a deep compliment”.

After briefly attending the wedding, Putin was accompanied to the airport by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and then headed to Germany for a planned meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Even before the wedding, Austrian opposition politicians had criticised the invitation to Putin, saying it undermined the country’s claim to be an “honest broker” between Europe and Russia, with the Green party calling for Kneissl’s resignation.

Russia has been accused of seeking to weaken and divide the EU, notably by maintaining links with populist parties in several European countries.

AFP

14 Killed In Vietnam Wedding Party Car Crash

Debris is pictured across the road after a van headed to a wedding party crashed in the early hours of the morning along a road in Quang Nam province on July 30, 2018.  Vietnam News Agency / AFP

 

14 members of the same family were killed in a car crash in central Vietnam Monday en route to a wedding party, including the groom who died instantly when their van hit a container truck, police said.

Road accidents are the leading cause of death in Vietnam, where traffic laws are loosely obeyed and road infrastructure is patchy.

The victims of Monday’s car crash in Quang Nam were members of an extended family, including the groom, who were heading to the bride’s family home in a neighbouring province, a police officer told AFP.

Their 16-seater van collided with a container truck at around 2:30 am (1930 GMT Sunday), killing 13 people instantly. Another died later in hospital.

“All victims’ bodies were brought back to their home for burial. We are treating some of the injured in a local hospital,” the policeman said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

Local authorities said Monday they were investigating the cause of the deadly crash.

Around 8,200 people died in traffic accidents across Vietnam last year, down from about 8,600 the year before. Most of those killed were on motorbikes.

Vietnam’s densely packed cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are crowded with motorbikes and cars competing for space with pedestrians and street vendors.

Meanwhile, transport trucks increasingly line newly built highways delivering goods across Vietnam, or into neighbouring countries.

AFP

Bride Weds In Hospital After Losing Arm In Croc Attack

Zanele with her husband Jamie Fox.

 

A Zimbabwean woman who lost her arm after a crocodile attack whilst holidaying with her fiancé, wedded days later in a hospital chapel, state media reported Tuesday.

Zanele Ndlovu-Fox exchanged vows with her husband Jamie Fox in a hospital chapel before 60 guests in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

A picture in The Herald showed Ndlovu-Fox decked out in her white wedding gown with her remaining upper right limb covered in white bandage.

The lovers were canoeing along the Zambezi river, near the Victoria Falls, when they were attacked by a crocodile few days earlier.

“The crocodile just jumped out of the water and bit a chunk of my arm together with the side of the boat,” Ndlovu-Fox told the newspaper.

“The canoe started deflating and it all happened so fast. The crocodile bit me again and pulled me into the water. My husband was thrown out on the opposite side, so the boat was between us.”

She said her husband and their tour guides wrestled the crocodile which later released her before she was airlifted to a hospital by a helicopter where the crushed part of the arm was amputated.

Hospitalised, she walked up the aisle to wed Fox at the infirmary.

“I spent a lot of time preparing for my wedding day, running around for venue, decor and so forth. I didn’t know that fate would have me wed in a hospital chapel, with one limb missing,” she said.

Despite all this, “my wedding was the best,” Ndlovu-Fox said.

Her husband told the same newspaper that the crocodile attack strengthened their union.

“This incident actually made me feel the deep meaning in our vows. For the better or worse, in sickness and in health, that’s just how our love is going to be,” said Fox.

The couple is reportedly preparing to relocate to Britain soon.

Meghan Markle Ties The Knot

Meghan Markle, the US fiancee of Britain’s Prince Harry.         Credit: TOBY MELVILLE / POOL / AFP

 

A little less than a month before her royal wedding to Britain’s Prince Harry, Meghan Markle has said “I do” — on television.

Markle fans who can’t wait until the actress walks down the aisle next month can tune into the seventh season finale of the legal drama “Suits” — which sees Markle’s character Rachel tie the knot with Mike, played by Patrick J. Adams.

“I wanted to marry you from the second I met you,” Mike says in a preview of the episode, to air Wednesday.

“You are the husband I’ve always wanted,” Rachel says, marking a happy ending for the two actors leaving the series.

“We know there’s another wedding on the horizon for Ms. Markle but just seeing her here in all of her bridal resplendence is a fairytale come true,” said the network USA, which airs the series, on its website.

The characters Mike and Rachel had already tried getting married in a previous season — but police arrested the former and thwarted the nuptial plans.

Shortly after announcing her engagement to Prince Harry, the future Duchess, 36, said she would leaving acting to focus on humanitarian work.

Her final appearance on “Suits” — in which she has starred since 2011 — will be a dress rehearsal of sorts for her big day on May 19, when she will marry Prince Harry in a chapel inside Windsor Castle before 600 invited guests.

Another 2,640 people will be welcomed onto the castle grounds.

American, mixed-race and “fiercely independent,” Markle is widely seen as a breath of fresh air for Britain’s royal family.

“I was born and raised in Los Angeles, a California girl who lives by the ethos that most things can be cured with either yoga, the beach, or a few avocados,” she once wrote.

She will be the second American to join the British monarchy after socialite Wallis Simpson — who married King Edward VIII after he abdicated and like Markle had once divorced prior to marrying royalty.

AFP

600 Invited To Prince Harry And Meghan Markle’s Wedding

 

Some 600 people have been invited to the wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle, Kensington Palace announced Thursday.

The invitations were posted earlier this week, Harry’s official residence said — without revealing who had made the guest list.

Harry and his US actress fiancee are set to tie the knot at Windsor Castle, west of London, on May 19.

The 600 invitees will attend the service in the castle’s St George’s Chapel, followed by the lunchtime reception hosted by Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II at St George’s Hall.

Later, around 200 guests are being invited to a private reception at Frogmore House given by Harry’s father Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.

The venue for the evening party, in the park outside Windsor Castle, is where Harry and Markle posed for their official engagement photos.

The invitations, issued in Charles’s name, were on thick white card gilded along the edge, which was die-stamped in gold and then burnished.

The invitations read: “His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales… requests the pleasure of the company of… at the marriage of His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales with Ms Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on Saturday 19th May 2018 at 12 Noon followed by a reception at Windsor Castle.”

The names of the invited guests were added in later by a calligraphy printer.

Uniforms and elderflower cake 

The invites indicated that the dress code is uniform, morning coat or lounge suit, or day dress with a hat.

Harry, a former soldier who also holds ceremonial military roles, is therefore likely to be wearing his highest-ranking uniform for the wedding.

The prince and his bride-to-be have been increasingly busy this month in the build-up to the big day.

On Tuesday, the couple announced they had chosen London-based US pastry chef Claire Ptak to make a lemon elderflower wedding cake, to be covered with buttercream and decorated with flowers.

Queen Elizabeth published her formal consent to the marriage on March 15.

By law, the monarch must give consent for the marriage of the first six people in line to inherit the throne.

Harry, 33, is fifth in line after his father Charles, brother Prince William and William’s children Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

He will be bumped down to sixth place when William’s wife Kate gives birth next month.

On March 12, Markle took part in her first official event with Queen Elizabeth, accompanying Harry to a Commonwealth Day service at London’s Westminster Abbey.

Markle, 36, was baptised by the leader of the Church of England earlier this month out of respect for the sovereign’s role as head of the denomination.

AFP

Prince Harry To Marry Meghan Markle Next Year

Britain’s Prince Harry will marry his US actress girlfriend Meghan Markle early next year after the couple became engaged earlier this month, Clarence House announced Monday.

“His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle. The wedding will take place in Spring 2018,” said the official statement.

The couple became engaged in London earlier this month, his office said, adding that the 33-year-old prince had informed his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, close members of the royal family and had sought the blessing of Markle’s parents.