RING OF LOVE: Philip Go Beltejar and Katherine Salazar-Beltejar, both 29, exchanged wedding vows at the Philippine consulate in Dubai on December 27 last year Image Credit: Supplied photo

Dubai: Despite the many hurdles to tying the knot in the UAE, the number of Filipinos exchanging “I dos” in Dubai has jumped more than three times compared to six years ago, XPRESS has learnt.

This month, 112 couples are set to exchange marriage vows, up from a monthly average of 30 in 2006, based on online and existing records.

“What we do are literally, weekly mass weddings,” said Geronimo Suliguin, vice-consul in Dubai.

“Thirty couples is the ‘normal average’ number we solemnise per week. That is the maximum number we can take, though weekly applicants can go up to 40 couples.”

The consulate opened in January 2005. By mid-2006, it saw an average of only 10 couples tying the knot per week. Today, there’s an estimated 450,000 Filipinos in the Dubai and the northern emirates.

The huge demand means that five or so couples are called in at one time to exchange marriage vows. 

On February 7, a week before Valentine’s Day, dressed in an immaculate white flowing gown, Annaliza took the hand of her beau Geraldo in a rather simple marriage ceremony, joined by four other couples in a conference room packed to the brim with their friends and well-wishers. 
It’s a regular scene at the consulate on Thursdays, the end of the UAE work work. Marriages, however, are only solemnised when both parties are Filipino citizens.

Since last year, the consulate has been publishing an online list of couples applying for civil marriages. 
“It’s a public bulletin to inform everyone so that if someone has evidence of any legal impediment that could prevent a person from signing a marriage contract, they can lodge a complaint and we will take necessary action. But so far, no one has filed a complaint based on our online listing.”

Philippine laws do not allow divorce among its Christian citizens, who constitute about 85 per cent of its 100 million population.