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The New Arab Staff

'Visionary' groom: Thousands attend blind man's wedding in Yemen after online plea for friends

Mohammed Ali Abdullah requested the public's attendance at his wedding [Twitter/Ahmed Shihab]

Date of publication: 19 July, 2020

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When blind Yemeni, Mohammed Ali Abdullah posted a humble request for friends to attend his wedding celebrations, he did not expect the largest celebratory convoy in Aden's history.
Thousands of Yemenis filled the streets of the temporary capital city on Saturday to respond to calls from a young blind groom that requested locals attend his wedding.

The unprecedented celebrations saw the coastal Aden city jam packed with hundreds of cars in a traditional celebratory convoy to celebrate the wedding of Mohammed Ali Abdullah.

Two days earlier, Abdullah had taken to Facebook with a modest request for locals to join his celebrations, noting he did not have many friends.

"My name is Mohammed Ali Abdullah - or as they call me, Mohammed 'the blind'. I'm so happy now that my life has been tinted in rose - not that I know what that looks like, but I hear roses are nice. I've finally found my life partner and will no longer be consumed by my damned loneliness," he said in a post on Facebook.

"I do not have many friends and hope you can all be my friends and join me in my celebrations so I can prove to the world that I too have the right to be happy like every other normal person. It's true I won't see your attendance at the wedding, but I will feel your presence," Abdullah said, before providing details of the location and time.

The humble invitation swiftly picked up speed online and his message was catapulted across all social media platforms under the hashtag "We Are Your Friends".

The social media campaign saw businessmen, companies and shops race to shower the young man with gifts, as well as financial contributions to go towards costs of the wedding and his new marital life.

Videos that emerged online early on Sunday showed thousands of Adenis had gathered outside the wedding hall to await the newly weds, before later following their car home, beeping in celebration.

"Aden has never seen anything like this," one Yemeni said online. "Our city will sing and celebrate for the rest of the morning - so hear our message, O' executioners," he added, addressing Yemen's warring factions.

Another social media user who attended the festivities prayed for Aden's happiness in a message addressed to 'Mohammed the blind': 

"The biggest celebrations in the history of Aden. May your happiness be eternal, Aden. Congratulations to Mohammed 'the visionary'".

Yemen's war between the Houthis and pro-government troops escalated in March 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition intervened against the rebels who control large parts of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa.

Since the rebels pushed out the internationally-recognised government in 2014, Aden has played a role as the temporary capital, though has seen battles of its own. 

Read also: Wedding-turned-funeral: Yemen's Houthis kill mother of bride shopping for wedding dress

In April, the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council secessionist group declared self-rule in Aden after years of disputes between its fighters and the Saudi-backed government.

More than 100,000 people have been killed across Yemen, with an estimated four million displaced and 80 percent of the country's 29 million people dependent on aid for survival.

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