Marriage, a "luxury" for Iraqi youths

BAGHDAD, (Xinhua) -- Khalid Majeed, a 29-year-old man, considered himself luckier than most his peers in Baghdad. The reason is simple: he can afford a marriage.

   With rocketing housing prices, soaring unemployment rate and expensive wedding parties, marriage has become a "luxury" for many young Iraqis.
   Dressed in a fancy suit, Majeed sat proudly with his bride at the wedding party recently.
   "People who can get married are those who have the financial ability to do so," the young groom told Xinhua. "The most important thing is to have a stable or full-time job."
   In Iraq, job opportunities are shrinking as the economy is heavily dependent on the oil industry, with the unemployment rate reported to be 30 percent. Many college graduates end up being taxi drivers, or jobless.
   At Majeed's moment of happiness, everyone seemed to forget the harsh ordeals of daily life in Baghdad, until one or two growling patrolling helicopters unpleasantly brought them back to reality.
   Gazing at his bride who smiled coyly in a white wedding veil, Majeed danced merrily to drum beats. Even at his happiest hour, the groom seemed to silently wary about the safety of his guests.
As security situation in Baghdad remains a grave concern, Majeed said he had to provide the guests with reliable security measures. "It's not realistic to wait for security situation to stabilize," he said.
   After the party, the newly-weds drove to the old house of the groom's father, which would be their new home. Although "rich" enough to throw a wedding party, Majeed was yet able to buy a house on his own.
   Nowadays, a simple apartment with two bedrooms costs 100,000 U. S. dollars in Baghdad, and a house costs double the price. Housing prices in downtown districts are even higher, at least three times higher.
   Mohammed Majeed, the groom's father, said he hoped his son will one day "settle down, get his own house and have kids and everything."