Tuesday, November 30

Um Sultan (70) is an analogue of Tinder: – Most are very superficial

SPLES: For 25 years, Um Sultan has helped couples get married.

AMMAN (VG) In a country where many consider Tinder to be haram, Um Sultan (70) has set out to splice conservative spouses.

– What about the young woman, she who is an engineer? And a little short, says Um Sultan.

With the sigg in one hand, and the phone in the other, she is on the line with a family looking for a mate. The goal is to splice a potential bride and a groom.

– Aha, he thinks she’s a little short. The problem is that no one wants to marry a short woman, she says.

If she succeeds in splicing them, she will make money this day as well.

But before she can match anyone, she must know everything about them. Height, weight, what they have studied, whether they have been married before, whether they have had sex with someone out of wedlock and whether they come from a respectable family.

– It will be like a small CV for each person, she tells VG.

– As a rule, it is the mothers of the bride or groom who call to find someone for their son or daughter.

Then they send her pictures of the child they are going to marry off. Pictures in full profile, half profile and close up.

ABOUT SULTAN: She shows the picture of one of the men she is working on marrying off.

Jordan, this religiously conservative kingdom in the Middle East, has long had a less liberal dating culture.

Most often, it is the family that finds someone they want to splice their son or daughter with, because the norm is that families must approve a possible party.

It can also be a great shame for the family if it is discovered that someone has had sex before marriage.

– This is a society where everyone knows everything, and there is a lot of gossip between neighbors and family members, says Um Sultan.

FRIENDS: A group of girls hang out at a traditional café in Amman.

1000 weddings

Since online dating and checking in on the city is virtually non-existent in the country, Um Sultan has for 25 years helped to forge Jordanians in the hymen’s chains.

It started with her constantly being asked by friends and family members if she knew anyone who could fit in as a spouse, and as the orders flowed in, she chose to try herself as a full-time splicer.

Um Sultan laughs when she is asked how many marriages she has arranged.

– 1000, maybe, she estimates.

– Why is online dating not so big here?

– It happens here too, but it rarely goes well. I heard about a man who was going to meet a woman from Tinder, but then it turned out that she was lame. She had not told about it on Tinder. It is important to meet them in real life, see how her hips move and how she walks.

Those who bypass the family’s approval and traditional way of marriage are quickly stigmatized, she says.

– Those who check someone up online, we just call “a person from the street”, ie someone who has no honor, she claims.

WEDDING: A bridal party dances through the streets of Amman on a Friday night.


Inside a hookah restaurant in Amman, there is a flurry of cola boxes.

– Peaks are haram!, says one of the girls, and the gang bursts out laughing.

Then they nod to one of the girlfriends, one they describe as someone who has achieved a “dream marriage”. The friend has just had a new baby.

– They got married in the traditional way, where the families spliced ​​them, they say.

But the girlfriends also believe that the dating culture in Jordan is changing. Many of them want to break out of the conventional ways of finding love.

– I’m dating a man I met at university, but my family does not know. If they find out, I’m afraid of what they’ll do, she says dryly.

– If I had done the same, I think my family would have killed me, someone else shoots in.

AMMAN: Jordan is a religiously conservative society where honor is highly valued.


Brings some shame over the family, many resort to violence to, in their view, restore the family’s honor.

As a rule, it is the women who are to blame. Every year, between 15-20 women in Jordan are killed over so-called honor-related killings, which places the country at the top of the world of dismal statistics.

Women have been burned, stabbed, poisoned and beaten to death for having a girlfriend, or wanting to be with someone the family did not approve of.

The judicial system in Jordan has also traditionally been much milder against such crime, and family members often receive low sentences.

Honor killings are certainly not unique to Jordan. Southeast Asia, Mediterranean countries and Europe have all seen violence inspired by a code of honor – normally defined by men.

THE SPLIT BOOK: Um Sultan has gone through several books where she has listed all the info about those she is going to marry off. Now most of it takes place on WhatsApp.

For Um Sultan, it has become all the more important to do the job right, to find partners who can be good to each other for life.

But when marriages are to happen quickly, and the partners may never have been in a relationship before, things often go awry. 20 percent of divorces in the country happens already during the first year.

– People get married very quickly here, and that is probably why there are so many divorces. And once the woman has had children, it is very difficult for her to remarry, but it is not as difficult for a man.

– It does not sound very equal?

– No, really. For a divorced woman, it is almost impossible to be included in society again. It’s very unfair, and it makes me a little sad.

WATCH VIDEO: This is what it sounds like when Um Sultan splits married couples:

Bald and large belly

Another challenge is that her customers have received much higher and, according to herself, unrealistic quality requirements than before.

– Women can be skeptical if the man is bald, has a big belly and is not religious enough. The men want someone who is tall, thin, handsome and comes from a good family.

– And everyone wants someone who is a little lighter in the skin because they think they are more beautiful then, says Um Sultan.

– Most people are very superficial and do not care about their spouse’s personality.

For every person she splices, she earns around 2,000 kroner, depending on how difficult the marriage is. If they are easy to marry off, it is cheaper, it takes a lot of time, the price goes up.

Despite having turned 70, she wants to continue with the job. Because she loves it so much.

– I love life! And I love beautiful people!

VG I JORDAN: VG’s Middle East correspondent, Kyrre Lien, reports from Amman.


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