The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted almost all of life’s ordinary - and extraordinary - joys, one of which is the daily scene of a husband and wife trotting across the street in full marital attire to their wedding day. Although in some places in the Arab world, in spite of the myriad campaigns - governmental and non-governmental - taking place to encourage people to stay home and practice social distancing, weddings are still taking place.

One Yemeni couple - Mohamed Al Mashra and Rana - chose not to take the risk of spreading the virus - in spite of there being no recorded cases of COVID-19 yet in the country - and went along with their wedding via a Facebook livestream.

Guests were sent an electronic invite and shown a livestream of the zaffa which took place in the newly weds’ bedroom, where there was later a cake and an intimate - if you don’t count the 1000 Facebook users who tuned into the livestream - celebration gathering close friends and family.

The groom, Al Mashra, explained during the livestream that he and his wife did not wish to postpone the wedding or to interrupt their plans and that the wedding brought them joy in spite of the difficult circumstances.

Later, in an interview with BBC Arabic, Rana, the bride, explained that they could not bear the responsibility of potentially causing an outbreak of the virus, and that it brings them comfort to know they celebrated their betrothal without endangering anyone’s lives. 

Al Mashra has since used his Facebook and social media platforms to vehemently encourage people to stay home no matter what plans they made - using his own wedding as proof that life can still go on amid the tragedies of a global pandemic.

Illustration by Rashad Al Samie.

In spite of there being no recorded coronavirus cases as of yet in Yemen, the World Health Organisation warns of the danger that the pandemic poses for the country, which is experiencing its fifth year of a war that has debilitated its medical infrastructure and is thus unprepared for the amount of equipment and staff that COVID-19 calls for.

While the Houthis' National Salvation Government has taken some precautionary measures, including closing all educational institutions, cafes and wedding halls in Houthi-controlled areas, and even closing the Sanaa Airport, there has been criticism that these measures aren't being fully implemented.