House of Horrors Plagues Groom

From a Times Staff Writer

Despite all the problems of getting married in the Arab world, perhaps few have suffered as much as Hassan Sabeh, a Beirut banker.

Sabeh, a Shia Muslim, was betrothed in 1982. But under a local Shia custom, the marriage could not take place until the bridegroom had a house of his own.

So Sabeh built a house in 1982 in Borj el Brajne, in the Shia suburbs south of Beirut. But before the wedding could be scheduled, Israeli troops invaded Lebanon and Sabeh's house was knocked down in the fighting. Sabeh rebuilt the house, but it was knocked down again, this time by government shelling. It was knocked down three more times.

Through it all, Sabeh was stoical. Nearly every night he would visit his fiancee and report on the progress of the house.

Finally, last summer, during a rare lull in Beirut's fighting, Sabeh borrowed more money, and this time managed to complete the house. Without wasting any time, he got married, four years after he had proposed.

Fighting continues in Borj el Brajne, but Sabeh says he is happily married and still a homeowner.

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