Muscat: In a welcome move for its officers, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) personnel will now be able to avail of marriage loans without interest.
Speaking to the Times of Oman, an official at ROP said, "It is not the first time that the ROP will be providing social loans for its officers, but it is a first as far as marriage loan is concerned."
The law concerning the marriage loan decision states that according to the social loans system in ROP No. 41/97 and the recommendations of the Inspector-General of Police and Customs registration for loans for marriage expenses is now open.
As per the decision issued on June 16, loan seekers could register with the authorities from June 17 and until July 18.
"Officers who have completed two years in service as a bachelor are eligible for the marriage loans.
"Those whose wife has died or is ill can apply," the official clarified. Many bachelor officers have welcomed the move.
Omani weddings can cost up to OMR30,000, while dowry can be as high as OMR15,000. The bride's family sets the dowry value, and the bride typically has little say in the decision.
The expenses include the cost of renting halls, serving food and beverages to guests, and paying the dowry to the bride's family.
"Besides the amount spent on dowry, I bought new furniture worth OMR4,000 for my apartment and have spent several thousand rials on my wedding expenses, which include OMR800 for the hall, OMR800 for the decorations, video and music, and about OMR2,000 on food for the guests," explained Mohammad, who married last year.
That is why thousands of Omani men, finding it difficult to meet the annually increasing costs of wedding, are waiting for the General Marriage Fund to be activated.
The Marriage Fund is administratively and financially independent but comes under Public Authority of Charity Works, which in turn is chaired by the Minister of Legal Affairs. Branches of the Marriage Fund will be opened in all governorates to make it easier for Omanis to apply for grants.
"The fund would help youth who want to be married once it becomes a reality. Many could not afford the wedding expenses, starting from huge dowries to the wedding parties," said Ali Khalfan, working with the government sector.
He added that citizens keep asking the authorities concerned to activate the fund, so that many young men can be saved from forced bachelorhood. "The dowry nowadays ranges from OMR2,000 to OMR30,000," suggested Ali.
The move comes in response to the focus of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on assisting the country's youth to build a better future.
"We call all the government and private sector organisations to follow the ROP's initiative," said Ali Al Muqaimi, working in the private sector.
He also said that Omani men have been waiting for the marriage fund for the last four years. He added that the marriage expenses are heavy and organisations should support its employees in bearing wedding expenses.
Majlis Al Shura had put up the report for Marriage Fund project to the Ministers' Council for approval, in May 2013.
Around 2,500 to 3,000 Omanis are expected to benefit from the fund every year, according to Majlis Al Shura.
The Article on Marriage Fund grants financial support, sponsoring and organising mass weddings across the country.
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