Ahmed Adam (fondly called Adam) remembers the first time he locked eyes with Fatima Yacin across a crowded Benny Benassi EDM concert at the Dubai World Trade Centre in 2011.
‘You know that look... one where you get a feeling the other person won’t bite you for approaching them?’ the 34-year-old account manager at a media firm explains, laughing. That evening, Adam left the concert very smitten and very lovelorn as he knew nothing about his mystery girl except her first name – Fatima. Just when he’d thought he struck out, he received a notification on Facebook – the girl from the concert messaged him.
Six years later, as the couple walked onto the lush lawns at the Danat Al Ain resort and saw each other in their wedding attire, they shared a look again. This time there was no scepticism, just unabashed tears of joy and gratitude at the sheer serendipity of how they’d found each other.
Despite growing up in the small town of Al Ain, belonging to the same community, Fatima and Adam had never crossed paths until Adam was unwillingly dragged to the gig by his colleague.
‘It was almost as if we were fated to meet,’ says Fatima, 28, a media network executive. ‘Adam doesn’t even like EDM, and I messaged him on a whim.’ The straight-out-of-rom-com-story culminated in a beautiful outdoor wedding in Al Ain that Adam planned from scratch (with inputs from Fatima) in two months – he organised the flowers, wedding favours (chocolates embossed with their logo in wooden boxes), the venue and a rustic swing, all without morphing into a groomzilla.
The ceremony itself was peppered with surprises – for Fatima that included a personalised rendition of their first dance song, Ed Sheeran’s Perfect, by Adam’s rapper brother Yassin. For the guests – a mix of Arabs, Indians and Westerners – the surprise was the couple’s re-entry during the cake-cutting ceremony dressed in traditional Somali attire – Ahmed in a white shawl and sarong, and Fatima in a hidi yo dhaqan, a long flowy tunic in Somalian bridal colours of orange, white and brown.
‘Everyone was so surprised, because usually Somali couples, especially expats, just stick to the white wedding gown and black suit’ says Fatima. For Adam, the sight of elderly relatives moving closer to the stage, breaking into the traditional sayalici dance when the English and Arabic playlist switched to Somalian music, made him realise that decision’s inclusivity.
Keeping tradition alive has always been integral to the couple’s relationship – Adam waited until his family officially sought Fatima’s hand in marriage before he gave her the movie-style proposal of her dreams in 2016 at Dubai’s Pierchic. ‘In [Somali] culture, there is no concept of an engagement. You go all in with a nikah. When I went down on one knee, she was shocked. I always said there won’t be a proposal,’ Adam laughs.
The next day Adam and his relatives arrived at Fatima’s house to conduct the traditional Somali nikah where the eldest members of the groom and bride’s tribes confirmed the couple’s union officiated by a mosque official, followed by women singing traditional songs and dancing. ‘It’s all about the singing and dancing in Somali weddings,’ says Fatima, now mum to five-month-old daughter Jawahir.
It’s poetic then that music brought these two together.