Real-life Cinderella story lights up drap BelarusPretty girl from Belarus meets prince charming from DUBAI, live happily ever after.
By Nadia Popova - MINSK
Alexander Demyanovich sounds pretty understanding for a young man who's been ditched by his sweetheart. Then again, she left him for a billionaire prince from Dubai -- and you don't get that every day in drab Belarus.
"I don't regret that Natasha married a prince," says Demyanovich, 21. "She always wanted to do something great."
That sense of admiration is palpable in Minsk, capital of a country best known for the repressive policies of Soviet-style President Alexander Lukashenko, gas price wars with neighbouring Russia, and the production of tractors.
And in a place where young people don't get many chances, Natasha Aliyeva, 19, took hers.
She was only two months into her 10-dollar-a-day (seven euros) waitressing job at the Minsk Hotel when she was told to bring an orange juice up to the 820-dollar-a-night "presidential suite."
The man ordering? Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Rashed al-Maktoum, son of the late ruler of Dubai and nephew of the current ruler, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum whom Forbes magazine listed as worth 14 billion dollars in 2006.
The 31-year-old prince, who happened to be in the ex-Soviet republic for an international shooting competition, liked orange juice. He ordered several more.
And he also liked Aliyeva, who discovered they both had an interest in volleyball, according to her colleagues in the hotel.
Just two weeks later, on August 27, they were married and Aliyeva was soon on her way to Dubai to join the emirate's ruling family.
Back in the uniform greyness of Minsk, her friends and former colleagues are on tenterhooks to know how the real-life Cinderella is doing.
"Natasha was an ordinary Belarussian teenager who liked to wear jeans and miniskirts and hang out in nightclubs," said Natalya, manager at the Minsk Hotel restaurant. "She never thought she would marry a prince... (but) she has really fallen in love with him."
Yevgeny Ivanyuk, who studied at Belarus State University until being expelled for his opposition to the country's authoritarian government, applauded her good luck.
"She is just very cool and terribly lucky," he said. "In this country you will never be able to live well. There's no freedom, no way to express yourself. With the sheikh her life will at least be interesting. Yes, it's a fairy tale Cinderella story."
Aliyeva's mother said she was also happy despite temporarily having two daughters move out -- in addition to Natasha, her 25-year-old sister Galina, who speaks English, has gone to Dubai to act as interpreter.
Both women converted to Islam and in fact have roots to the religion, since their father is originally from Azerbaijan, another ex-Soviet republic inhabited mostly by Muslims.
In Dubai, all matters pertaining to the private life of members of the ruling family are strictly confidential and even considered taboo in the Gulf Arab monarchies.
It is believed there that Natasha has taken the name Aysha and is the prince's second wife. Muslim men may be married to up to four wives, and the prince already has five children with his first wife.
Back in Minsk, Natasha's mother, Liliya Aliyeva, is pleased.
"My daughter is just happy and I am happy for her," said Aliyeva, 52, who works as a nurse.
But not everyone in Belarus, a predominantly Christian country of 10 million people, is applauding.
Yekaterina Lychkina, a former teacher of Aliyeva at Belarus State University's physical education faculty, said she was "very worried" for the fate of a girl who "always had bad marks" in class.
Alexei Gatatulin, deputy dean of the physical education department where Aliyeva specialised in working with pre-school children, said she should have kept to her homeland.
"Judge for yourself: what is better, to lose your normal lifestyle, religion, not to see your parents and to leave your motherland, then live in luxury in a foreign country with lots of strangers, or, to stay in your native country, work with kids and be happy with your family?" Gatatulin asked.
If Aliyeva had stayed, she would have graduated in three years and might have earned around 200 dollars a month as a kindergarten gym teacher.
But Alexander Demyanovich, the first love of Natasha, says his ex was always likely to do something special.
"Our relations were very complicated. Natasha is very hot tempered. It was impossible to convince her to change her mind on anything. However, there was a positive aspect to her character -- she is very passionate. On top of that, she's a real Eastern beauty."
p/s: cinta tak kenal bangsa dan agama..... beruntung atau tidak semuanya sudah ditetapkan oleh yg maha esa..