To the sound of drums and flutes, a freshly coiffed Palestinian groom dances with his brothers, cousins and friends, anxiously waiting for his veiled bride to arrive in her shimmering gown. It might have been a normal Gaza wedding, except for the venue — not a luxurious seaside hall, but a narrow alley in the Al-Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza City. Welcome to Gaza’s new pandemic-era weddings: they are small because of strict crowd limits, they are held outdoors, and they finish early to beat the curfews. And they are a whole lot cheaper than usual. “I’m not entirely happy because I would have preferred to celebrate it in a wedding hall,” said the groom, Mohammed Ahmed Ashour, wearing a blazer and burgundy tie. But for his family, the 24-year-old merchant told AFP between dances, the pared-down nuptials have also brought welcome savings at a time of economic hardship. Weddings in the Palestinian coastal enclave are usually extravagant affairs, held in large halls that dot the Mediterranean coastline. Despite staggering poverty and unemployment rates of around 50 percent even before the pandemic, many Gazans spend several thousand dollars on weddings.