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Feature: Abbas sponsors mass wedding in West Bank refugee camp

2017-08-11 05:18:33 (Beijing Time)         news.xinhuanet.com

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A Palestinian couple attends a mass wedding celebration in the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Fara'a, north of the city of Nablus in the West Bank, on Aug. 10, 2017. Joy seemed overwhelming on the faces of 65 pairs of brides and grooms, who joined a mass wedding on Thursday evening in the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Fara'a, north of the city of Nablus in the West Bank. The wedding was held under the patronage of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the first of its kind in the camp, which accommodates 7,000 people suffering from difficult economic conditions. (Xinhua/Nidal Eshtayeh)

WEST BANK, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Joy seemed overwhelming on the faces of 65 pairs of brides and grooms, who joined a mass wedding on Thursday evening in the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Fara'a, north of the city of Nablus in the West Bank.

The wedding was held under the patronage of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the first of its kind in the camp, which accommodates 7,000 people suffering from difficult economic conditions.

With the theme "weddings despite suffering," the collective wedding took place at Salah Khalaf cultural center in the camp, which was formerly a large Israeli prison that housed dozens of people from the refugee camp.

At the wedding ceremony, artistic and heritage shows were presented in an atmosphere of joy and pleasure, witnessed by hundreds of guests including the relatives of the brides and grooms, Palestinian personalities and official leaders.

"The goal of President Abbas and our goal is to bring joy to the hearts of the Palestinian people everywhere," said Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy head of Abbas Fatah movement.

"We want the life in which we practice joy, marriage, childbearing, education, art, literature and culture. This is the life we want for the Palestinian people," Aloul said in a speech on behalf of Abbas.

Standing next to his bride, Ahmed al-Aarja, 46, was radiating great joy since his dream of marrying his beloved girl finally came true.

Al-Aarja, the oldest among the grooms, said his economic plight deprived him of getting married, "but this opportunity has revived my hope and brought me back to life."

Yasir Abu Kishk, coordinator of the mass wedding, said the ceremony was a tribute to President Abbas, who sponsored 200,000 U.S. dollars for the whole preparations.

"The ceremony provides an incentive for young people who could not marry due to the high costs and high unemployment rates in the Palestinian refugee camps," he noted.

According to a recent report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of the unemployed in the West Bank has reached to 154,000, and the unemployment rate rose from 17.9 percent in 2007 to 18.2 percent last year.