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.

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  • HeliFebruary 23, 2011 - 12:32 pm

    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 :)ReplyCancel

  • SoileFebruary 23, 2011 - 4:27 pm

    Sulle on jotain mun blogissa :-)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahFebruary 24, 2011 - 10:07 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

    • ALISeptember 3, 2012 - 1:48 am

      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…looolReplyCancel

    • ALISeptember 3, 2012 - 1:51 am

      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!ReplyCancel

  • SafiyahFebruary 25, 2011 - 10:39 am

    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 ;)ReplyCancel

    • Ghetto Muslim ConnectApril 10, 2013 - 3:12 pm

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

    • NinaSeptember 19, 2014 - 10:18 pm

      Safiyah, I totally agree with you and Islam does not call for segregation…as you know there are only few Arab countries that force segregations while others don’t. Also, as you said, the fact that they make female look like forbidden fruit makes guys want them even more.ReplyCancel

  • mickeyMarch 8, 2011 - 11:59 am

    Laylah,

    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.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 7, 2011 - 8:25 am

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

  • LaylahApril 8, 2011 - 9:51 pm

    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 lolReplyCancel

    • Ghetto Muslim ConnectApril 10, 2013 - 3:09 pm

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

  • NicoolooApril 19, 2011 - 3:09 pm

    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 goReplyCancel

    • Ghetto Muslim ConnectApril 10, 2013 - 3:15 pm

      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 ? HivReplyCancel

      • HEY GHETTOFebruary 10, 2015 - 9:19 am

        Dude, that is 100% NOT true!! I live in the West, and I go to Super-Walmart, Denny’s, etc. all the time at 2 am with no problem. And besides my own personal experience, I have never heard of any case with that scenario. My parents are Pakistani, and the saddest thing they said is that they feel Ok with me going out in America, but not in any Muslim country. I don’t agree with the Western hookup and discard system, but the Arab system where man are panting after woman is disgusting too.ReplyCancel

  • Jean GrantSeptember 13, 2011 - 3:04 pm

    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 GrantReplyCancel

    • NinaSeptember 19, 2014 - 10:23 pm

      Hey Jean,
      I am assuming you are not from KSA, I live here and would really like to get a copy of your book and Laylah says its banned in Saudi, please tell me how to get a copy?
      Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahSeptember 15, 2011 - 1:29 pm

    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 :)ReplyCancel

  • AmirahOctober 5, 2011 - 3:57 pm

    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!!ReplyCancel

    • Ghetto Muslim ConnectApril 10, 2013 - 3:17 pm

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

    • adeel_769BD6A7October 26, 2014 - 3:01 am

      why would someone give an AUNTI 500 ???ReplyCancel

    • AzeeeeemSeptember 20, 2015 - 12:00 am

      I am living in Riyadh and I cant believe this……… I never believe this.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahOctober 6, 2011 - 12:39 am

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

  • Islam-A solution for mankindOctober 27, 2011 - 7:49 am

    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…ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 27, 2011 - 9:45 am

    zakhan:
    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 badlyReplyCancel

  • vampireDecember 31, 2011 - 12:57 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 1, 2012 - 11:55 pm

    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!ReplyCancel

    • adeel_769BD6A7October 26, 2014 - 3:00 am

      one should not give up :PReplyCancel

  • wyoming womenJanuary 5, 2012 - 10:03 am

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

  • AnonymousMarch 18, 2012 - 6:40 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1March 19, 2012 - 1:59 am

    Anon:

    Oh yes, those immoral women. Let them out and they will dishonor there families and husband.

    I mean lets not only force them to wear a bag but let put gps systems on them or how about electric collars on them so they can't get past their prison walls…oh home.

    Don't worry though, there husband who doesn't come home for the night is probablyReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 19, 2012 - 8:25 pm

    I agree with Anon.
    I am surprised that the Saudi women put of with this patriarchal system, being constantly put down by the men. You say they are well educated. What are they educated in? How to let men control them? Or are they just to lazy to fight for their rights?ReplyCancel

  • california guyMarch 20, 2012 - 12:54 am

    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 ownReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 22, 2012 - 10:14 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

  • LoloJune 8, 2012 - 4:51 pm

    I have a male gay Saudi friend who tells me that men with men is huge in the KSA even for heterosexuals. My straight Saudi male friends confirmed this as well…. As you say Layla, if there is a will, there is a way…. It’s human nature.ReplyCancel

  • Houston TexasJuly 19, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    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.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 6, 2012 - 3:04 pm

    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?ReplyCancel

  • GoriNiqabiWifeApril 27, 2013 - 6:38 am

    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.ReplyCancel

  • GoriNiqabiWifeApril 27, 2013 - 6:39 am

    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.ReplyCancel

  • […] country that strictly forbids mixing and all interaction between the sexes. How could anyone meet a member of the opposite sex here, let alone go out on a date, or fall in […]ReplyCancel

  • MinaMarch 9, 2014 - 9:29 am

    By the way,some of this guys trying togive their number and so might be married in my opinion!They just like foreign women because is something different and exotic to them!Also some of them are pathological cheaters!I imagine his poor wife wiping at home,depressed,while he is outthere trying to get him some date!It’s horrible!There was this lecture in Riyadh about women being cheated by their saudi husbands,saying they should suck up to it,not say any bad words to their husbands so they don’t break their home!Some of them abuse persciption medications in attempt to self medicate their depression!It’s sad!ReplyCancel

    • adeel_769BD6A7October 26, 2014 - 2:58 am

      thats why i think one should marry after he is over with his immature acts ….. one shall not seek marriage as a free sex sourceReplyCancel

  • GrantApril 6, 2014 - 12:04 am

    I’m reading this as a white British atheist and I’ve been chatting with a Saudi girl online recently. It has sparked some curiosity in me about the country and culture. Your website is very interesting. But I feel I need to address some comments about here about the west. Yes rape happen to some women here but it also happens everywhere including in Saudi Arabia. Rape comes in many forms including domestic violence in the home! There are many situations where women are raped but aren’t allowed to say anything! I know you know what I’m talking about.ReplyCancel

    • Xerxes2020September 18, 2015 - 2:21 pm

      Western people should stay the hell away from those damn Saudi women (even in the net) for their own good. Those creeps can`t be trusted one bit They`re all treacherous arab asses & their family checks on them constantly. If you want some damn Saudi after you just chat them.ReplyCancel

  • […] of all, dating in Saudi Arabia is nothing like in the west. On the back of everyone’s mind lies marriage. This is how they are raised to think, and this […]ReplyCancel

  • Mohammed AfzalOctober 20, 2014 - 1:40 am

    Wow thats some fascinating stories n I find it funny I wonder even in now days showing off can get u girl…. What to say I couldn’t stop laughingReplyCancel

  • […] rare cases, by randomly giving out phone numbers! I wrote a tongue in cheek post about it here: Saudi Dating Scene What do you miss the most in Saudi Arabia? Do you miss your homeland?  Of course I miss my […]ReplyCancel

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