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Though popular, with some 100,000 visitors in a population of 2 million people in Gaza, the website is not universally liked. Women are not a sack of onions,” says Lina Zein, 25, a single woman from Gaza City, explaining that Wesal felt too transactional in its approach to arranging weddings.“It limits my ambitions in marriage to someone’s income.” Amal Seyam, the head of Gaza’s Women Affairs Association, an NGO, says the service appeared to have come at an opportune time to take advantage of changes in Gazan society.
Part of Wesal’s immediate success appears to be how closely it hews to Gazan tradition, despite the digital medium.
Some 1,400 men have been killed in the three wars with Israel since 2008, leaving many widows who would like to remarry.
Tradition, however, can make it difficult for them to wed single men.
Through Wesal, she and her fiancé met in less than 24 hours.
She requested an educated man who didn’t smoke and who could secure a home in Gaza.
The man then has 48 hours to propose, something still typically done over the traditional coffee at her home.
Kholoud Sobouh, 27, said she got tired of being shown to men who knocked on her door with their mothers to propose.
Hamas itself has been trying to encourage marriage by paying the equivalent of £1,200 to any male who memorises the Quran, a bit of cash to help finance the next step in life.
inspects the prospective bride: body shape, skin colour, teeth, hair and other physical features.
“Polygamy has hit high rates in Gaza over the few past years, seemingly due to an increase in people’s religious inclination, especially after Hamas took power in 2007,” says Seyam, referring to the militant group that rules over Gaza.
Marriage rates overall have been on the decline in Gaza, and divorce is on the rise because of high poverty and unemployment rates, says the head of the Supreme Sharia Judicial Council in Gaza, Sheikh Hassan al-Jojo.
Traditionally, the polite way for a groom’s family to signal a proposal request is to ask to go to the bride’s family’s house for a cup of coffee.