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A bridal shop in Tehran
A bridal shop in Tehran

Registration officials in Iran supect there has been an increase of late in the number of informal and "unregistered" relationships. People are experimenting more with Western-style affairs of the heart, in other words — "shacking up" rather than rushing into marriage.

And they're not even going through the bother of entering a "temporary marriage," a legal loophole that exists in Iran for lovers who don't necessarily plan to make it a long-term thing. Last year, there were just 168 such arrangements nationwide, Ahmad Tuiserkani, head of the state registration body, told the daily Arman-e Emrooz.

Temporary marriages, to put it bluntly, allow couples to have sex without violating religious or cultural norms. They often serve the needs of bachelors or widows with money problems, divorcees, or anyone unable or unwilling to marry for good. Some critics call it "legitimate" prostitution as it usually involves payment of money to the wife.

Now, it seems, Iranian couples are dispensing with even that formality, instead dating and sleeping together like people elsewhere. Tuiserkani claims that the average lifespan of a couple in Iran is now "less than three years" and that 60% of the people who do marry lack a university education.

Shahla Kazemipur, a lecturer at Tehran University, sees the trend as logical given other changes taking place in Iranian society. "As society moves toward modernization, the marriage age goes up," she told the news agency ISNA.

Whereas men and women married at around 25 and 20 respectively in 1979, Kazemipur observed that they now tended to marry — in the proper, non "temporary" sense — at the ages of 27.5 and 23.4.

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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