Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saudi Dating Scene

Dating? In Saudi-Arabia?

It would appear that there is no such thing as dating in Saudi-Arabia. The countries strict laws on gender segregation make sure all contact between the sexes is minimized. There are no movie theaters, restaurants and cafe's are segregated by gender and single men are denied entry into malls and even parks.

This makes dating in the western sense practically impossible, driving young men and women to meet online in forums where the virtual dating scene is flourishing. Nevertheless young Saudis find ways to go around the rules. Where there is a will there is a way as the saying goes. Sometimes dating and flirting attempts from young Saudi males tend to go a bit overboard though.

Here are some examples of my observations of the Saudi ways of dating.

Going grocery shopping.
Tamimi supermarket seems to be a popular place to go looking for girls/boys. Some Saudi girls go here "grocery shopping" usually with a friend or a maid in tow. She will be donning her flashy abaya and most likely have very strong make-up on.
Any interested guys (all of them) will then have a chance to give her their numbers. This happens by standing close by and repeating the number over and over. She may or may not accept the offer. Some guys think the uninterested girl might not have heard him and keep following her in the store.

A couple that takes interest in each other must seem like they are casually picking up groceries while doing this to avoid getting thrown out by the security. It's sometimes hilarious watching these things going on in a grocery store!

Role playing
Another tactic is pretending to be husband and wife. The interested guy goes to the girl, grabs the cart and starts walking next to her as they were a couple. They can chat freely while pretending to shop together. The guy will pay for the groceries. This way they could also leave together in the same car and drive to a house where the parents aren't home.

This happened to me once, a guy just came and grabbed my cart and started pulling it from me despite my protests. We were yanking the cart back and forth for a while. First I imagined he thought that it was his but when I pulled out my mobile to call my husband the guy went nuts. He started frantically repeating his number to me while still hanging onto my cart. By the time he realized that I was in fact calling my husband and not eager to hear his phone number he ran like the wind out of the store!

Bluetooth and Blackberry Street
Tahlia street is a popular place for men to sit outside at its numerous cafe's and restaurants. Women or families are not allowed to sit outside, they are all  male-only singles sections. The boys will have their toys parked on the street waiting to attract the girls attention. This street gets very congested with traffic in the evenings, especially on weekends. Some girls go driving around with their drivers putting their Bluetooth on looking for guys with nice cars. Read more details here: http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/03/12/meaw_pm3_saudi_dating/


Boys cruising in expensive rides can try to attract girls to contact them by putting Blackberry PIN number stickers on their cars. Sometimes the guys can be seen hanging out of car windows waving papers with their numbers on the.

Mall madness
Another popular place for meeting people are the shopping malls, particularly Kingdom and Faisaliah mall. Although it might be tricky for the single guys to enter because security guards don't allow them inside. But there is an easy way around it. Either the men take their sisters or try to enter with a group of unknown girls as fake brothers. Some women are known to take advantage of the guys desperation and will walk in with the guy for a charge.

The napkin technique
Group of  two or more guys stroll around the mall searching for girls they like (all of them). They make sure to have their expensive watches and phones on display. If a girl sees a guy she is interested in, she will walk past and subtly drop a napkin with her name and number on it. The guys then rush to pick it up. They can continue strolling the mall and Bluetoothing or chatting on their Blackberries while flirting with each other from afar.

Desperate loosers
Some guys are so desperate they even resort to calling random mobile numbers hoping for a girl to pick up. When they do reach a young female, the game is on. The calls will keep coming constantly, usually in the middle of the night. Shouting, name calling and slamming the phone on them will only make the guy more enthusiastic.
These guys simply won't take no for an answer. I've found that having my husband answer the phone and have few words with them is the only way to stop the phone harassement.

Fair game
Naturally not all Saudi girls are looking for a date or to have some fun flirting with guys. In fact I think the majority couldn't care less for these types of guys. But whether the girl is in a grocery store, a shopping mall or happens to be in a car on Tahlia street they seem to be viewed as prey to some men. The certain type of Saudi male views all girls in any of these places as fair game.

This can lead to a lot of annoyance and even dangerous situations like guys chasing girls in their cars, speeding and violating traffic rules. Perhaps all the strict separation of genders and preventing normal human interactions is what makes many Saudi males so aggressive in their attempts to talk to women.


Heli said...

How did the Saudi "date" in the time before cell phones??! They seem to be such an important tool to get in touch with the opposite sex now.

And another thing, I wonder is what are the consequences if a boy and a girl get caught pretending to be husband and wife in a shop or even leaving in the same car? Since there are such strict laws on gender segregation, I assume there is a consequence.

An interesting post :)

Soile said...

Sulle on jotain mun blogissa :-)

Layla said...

Heli-maybe they used to secretly exchange letters> I have no idea how they did it before all this technology! I guess the previous generation was even more "deprived" than this one.

Yes you're right there are consequences! Thats why it's not that common but does happen that girl and boy go in same car, they might go to a frineds house if their parents arent home or so on. But its risky because if the muttawa gets suspicious and stops them they will be in alot of trouble.

Safiyah said...

Nice post, Laylah :)

I think this very strict segregation isn't natural, and will lead, as you say, to men being more aggressive and not taking no for an answer. In Europe bad things happen too of course, but I have a feeling the men here are more able to control themselves when they see a strange girl on the street. I'm not saying Saudi should become like the West, because that's not Islamic and not good either, but I do think women should be less viewed as "forbidden fruit" and more as a person with more than just her looks and sexuality.
I'm not sure if this is very realistic, but I think the segregation should be less enforced, and more coming from the Muslims within. I think, especially in primary school, it doesn't harm if the schools are mixed, because they are just kids, and they will get to know the other gender in an innocent way (or am I just being idealistic here? :p)
There are Muslims in the West too, and most of the Muslims I know personally seem to do fine in finding a balance in their interaction with the other gender, based on their Islamic values. They have the freedom to mix should they wish it, they are not forced to live segregated, and still most of them don't get tempted and stick to their values.
Just my thoughts ;)

mickey said...


nice post. i just happened to find your blog from your comment in someone else's blog. it's nice to read a blog of a 'revert' who really understand the religion. btw, am an expat workin in saudi, from a muslim country too but there is no gender segregation in our country.

Anonymous said...

hi buddy..ur dating tips and tricks webpage goin to be blocked soon..

Layla said...

hi there
I think you understood the post the wrong way maybe..
its not meant to be tips and tricks :D
just my observations from what I've seen going around.
I dont think saudi youth need my "tips and tricks" anyways lol

Nicooloo said...

Hello Laylah

Salam from UAE. We kind of have the same things going on here in terms of how guys hit on women. Of course here it is more open, but I think that just allows for more opportunities for the guys to approach us!
I don't live in the big cities (Dubai or Abu Dhabi), but I live in a smaller city Al Ain. It is more conservative, and lots of locals here.
When I go grocery shopping alone, many guys follow me and do the same as you described in your post haha. I have had many men follow my taxi all the way to my house all the while shouting their #s at me. I can joke about it and make fun of it, but it can be inhibiting - sometimes I don't go out alone because I don't want to be bothered.
Just thought I would share that us sisters in UAE and pretty much everywhere in gulf have to go through this!

Jean Grant said...

Hi there,
Thanks for your wonderful blog. I lived in the kingdom for 9 years 77-86 and was a journalist for Arab News. Your blog helps me keep up with the changes--important for me as I frequently speak on the kingdom.
Can anyone help me with info about untraditional veils and women not veiling in public? I'm giving talks on this at libraries. I want to be accurate.
BTW, I'm the author of The Burning Veil--check on Amazon--set in the kingdom. It's won an award for fiction-religious.
Once again, so many thanks for your blog.
Jean Grant

Layla said...

Hi Jean and welcome to my blog! I am VERY flattered by your comment!And I've read your book, loved it, as far as I understand it's banned in Saudi though?
I can help you with you questions, just drop me an email pls :)

Amirah said...

haha!! once in saudi arabia my aunt was in a supermarket and a guy comes up to her and asks "come with me i will give you 500 riyals." crazy right!!
and lol @ the blackberry pin at the back! how desperate are they!!

Layla said...

Amirah thanks for sharing :)
I cant imagine any girl taking their PIN and messaging these guys, I mean seriously its so pathetic :D

Islam-A solution for mankind said...

Chasing and lookng for hunting opposite gender and begging any stranger man/women for date is the worst thing a normal person can imagine but it is quite common in arabian culture where even though people do multiple marriages and women got married in teenage or in early 20's. seems Blessing :-) To my surprise even women are so much desperate and mostly talk about dating romance love etc and converted european muslim women seems more reasonable. I think getting married in early 20's , loving and respecting society , strong family system and family values is what we should strive for...

Anonymous said...

it is said
if you can stop stop the rain
wet mud will spread fragrance it is its nature

If you move away from nature you will have problems as youth in Saudia is facing... single women also suffering from this badly

vampire said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Layla said...

vampire-do you seriously think any Saudi girl will email you their BBM pin? Come on!!Get a life! This is not a dating site!

wyoming women said...

Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day

Anonymous said...

This is kind of enlightening and horrifying to read... even in one of the most Islamic countries on earth these things happen. I assume dating leads to other immoral activities. It must be easy for any woman to cheat, all they have to do is walk outside. I hope at least some of the women respect their families and husbands.

california guy said...

I really do not want to start an argument or flame war on her blog but I feel the need to post one response...

You have no right to judge or change the Saudi way of life. If you don't like it, don't go there. Western civilization is very, very far from perfect yet Europeans and Americans feel the need to tell everyone else what to do. Let them come up with change on their own if they want to, and lead by example if your society is so special. The West grew rich and powerful off slavery and child labor and screwing over pretty much ever other world civilization, and now it tries to be world police on every little thing.

Women and men should be held accountable for their actions. In America girls are socialized to defy their parents, be materialistic, dress provocatively, among other countless evils. Everyone thinks of themselves as individuals and their own selfish, transient, and emotional desires. I could go on about how arranged marriage is often better than "love" marriages and more but I will not.

Saudi women can be educated in many things. There are videos of them as successful doctors. They have power through their family and friend networks. They can control and influence their husbands, and apparently have sex with any man they want if they are sneaky enough. Some Saudi married women buy webcams to dance nude online and give their numbers out to men. While the country appears conservative, sometimes it is just an illusion. Even in Kuwait a working women cheated on her husband at a family camping trip! How savage is that? And people say that it is wrong to "make" women go out in groups or with a male relative, but in this society it seems that would be safer and that the chaste women would do so to avoid unwanted attention.

I really could go on a huge rant, but I need to end this post. The West needs to stop whining and judging and back off to work on their own problems. Enjoy your radical feminism, alcoholism, and sexual immorality but do not force it on others. You are entitled to be slaves to unchaste women and consumerism, and the rest of the world is entitled to decide how they want to live.

As for Saudi dating, I guess if this is the extent of it then that is good. I assume this is the big city and that the suburbs have more women who go out in groups and with family to avoid unsavory men preying on them.

Anonymous said...

I have all the right to care for women anywhere in the world. Or other people. If the culture go against human rights, I will not accept it.

Houston Texas said...

I loved your blogs, read few very insightful. I grew up and lived in Saudi Arabia till 1992 in Jeddah and Yanbu, teenagers back then had the similar issues, girls or guys. Girls wanted attention and guys were just deprived. I am sure technology made it easier. I have to say women in KSA are equally active in getting attention and hook up with guys, they are just afraid of strict laws, these are the same women and guys that end up doing these things in neighboring countries more openly.

I have to say I have seen with my own eyes how men were involved with their maids and mothers of the house and their wives were fine with it.

ALI said...

Well..i was raised here in Riyadh. Guys used to call random telephobe numbers and sit next to the land line phones all night after throwing their numbers everywhere...loool

ALI said...

Well..I was raised here.Let me tell you what they used to do..throw their telephone numbers around and call random numbers..and spend hours sitting next to the house phone...also letters and sending roses with notes...And driving around staring at open windows. I took off when I was 17 for ten years..Thank God!

Anonymous said...

i was born and brought up in saudi arabia...i've lived here....infact the only thing i hate about here is the date scene....infact nowadays guys are so desperate that they dont prefer girls 2 date...they prefer guys 2date and get laid......true rite?

Unknown said...

I sure they know every trick under every stone.Im from UK and lived in Riyadh a short while - I love Saudia.

Unknown said...

You obviously dont know many 'young' muslims. School girls, yes muslims, with staggering abortion rates..not exactly healthy..in the UK. This is a fact

Unknown said...

Its not a joke in the west, women get raped in broad daylight - on buses, at night. You should be thankful that theres a system. Imagine that your daughter too was dating strange men ? Hiv

Unknown said...

Real desperate - but live in the west, UK. The situation is a thousand times worse

- said...

Assalam alaikum,

I literally laughed out loud when reading this. Your way of writing is so comical, I love it. Please don't stop posting! It's actually very sad to hear about how young Saudi's are in supposedly the most Islamic country, where Islam was founded by our Prophet (SAW), and yet men and women still try to find ways around the strict rules so they can date and do haram. I never would have guessed this is what goes on in Saudi Arabia. I guess even with all the strictness in the law, there will always be rebels. And the influences of the West will reach there in some ways (unfortunately).

Anyway, thank you again for this insightful and extremely funny post.

- said...

Assalam alaikum,

I literally laughed out loud when reading this. Your way of writing is so comical, I love it. Please don't stop posting! It's actually very sad to hear about how young Saudi's are in supposedly the most Islamic country, where Islam was founded by our Prophet (SAW), and yet men and women still try to find ways around the strict rules so they can date and do haram. I never would have guessed this is what goes on in Saudi Arabia. I guess even with all the strictness in the law, there will always be rebels. And the influences of the West will reach there in some ways (unfortunately).

Anyway, thank you again for this insightful and extremely funny post.