Finding love and dating in Saudi Arabia is not as difficult as many expats think. Yes, it is quite unnerving moving to one of the most conservative countries in the world. Yes, it is a little odd being arrested for just walking next to someone of the opposite sex. But there is a hidden subculture that easily allows you to date and enjoy your time with a special someone in the kingdom.
First 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 is what you must respect. It doesn’t necessitate you having to marry the girl or guy you’re dating, but just be aware that it will always turn up during conversations.
If you’re a western guy, the Saudi girl will likely bombard your phone with pictures of babies. If you’re a western girl, the Saudi guy will constantly message and never want any other man to message you, not even your father. Ok, I kid, but Saudi men can get very possessive and jealous.
A second thing I need to point out is tribal thinking.
Dating in Saudi Arabia often involves keeping things under the radar
since any “wrongdoing” (aka dating) by either men or women could bring shame to the entire tribe, and every Saudi belongs to a tribe. Oftentimes, these tribes compete on an ethical level, and a girl who is found to have dated an expat, or slept with him, may suffer great loss of face for both her and her family. Gossip can last for years in Saudi Arabia.
Dating in Saudi Arabia: A Warning
Lastly, due to kingdom’s very conservative nature, dating in Saudi Arabia needs to be approached very delicately. The women, especially, are quite sensitive, almost naive. I recommend you never try to take advantage of them, as it can backfire and cost you dearly.
The punishment for sex outside of marriage is a hefty number of lashes. Do not–absolutely do not–date a married woman (and some may try to approach you).
The punishment for adultery is death.
Okay, so warnings aside, how does one start dating in Saudi Arabia and possibly find love in an exotic kingdom?
1. Social Media
Saudi Arabia has one of the highest worldwide ratios of twitter and facebook users when compared to population. A lot of this is attributed to the strict social life, so you’ll find many people meet online. Also, don’t be surprised if girls don’t post up their pictures. Remember, their family or tribes may lose face. She may be viewed as a woman trying to attract men and shame her family. You will often see the picture of some flower or artsy pic instead on her profile.
If you are looking at dating in Saudi Arabia, you should set up a twitter and facebook account which clearly states which city you are in, and where you are from. You can then do a global search for people in your area and message away.
Warning: It is very unusual for a Saudi not be married past the late 20s. If you do encounter one that is older than 30, be careful. They may be married (and will never tell you). I also recommend you sign up for the dating site Muslima–it is a very easy way to meet a partner.
2. Embassy Parties
An expat living in Saudi Arabia should immediately register with their embassy and ask for a list of events. All embassies usually throw parties at least once a month. These parties also serve alcohol, which is one of the easiest ways of getting alcohol in the kingdom. Western Embassy parties are fun and facilitate dating in Saudi Arabia since veils are not allowed, and you will meet both men and women that are open-minded.
You may also meet potential dates from your own home country, or another country.
A word of advice: many of these parties are not advertised. You may need to speak to an embassy employee or fellow countryman in the kingdom and ask them to add you to the list, since these parties are by invitation only. If you are American, go to the embassy gift shop and inquire about their events (sign up to the newsletter too) 😉 You can also buy a event membership there. Some countries automatically add you to events when you register with the embassy. Here’s an example of an embassy registration.
3. The Malls
A little more direct, but highly effective, is meeting your future lover in a mall. Dating in Saudi Arabia is really no different in this respect, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. First of all, you are not legally allowed to just walk up and talk to a girl. Secondly, Saudi girls usually walk around in groups. Thirdly, dress to impress. Don’t assume your beer gut will do the job.
There really is a science to the mall approach. You should make continuous eye contact, but be wary of mall security at the same time. Follow the group or, if they are following you, make sure you occasionally make eye contact to signal interest, and then go somewhere discrete, like a unisex store.
Stay very close and smile. Saudi girls may initially be shy, but many won’t hesitate making the first move (kind of a paradox there) and hand you their phone number. You must remain very close when in the store, they can’t be seen approaching you.
4. A Friend Of A Friend
Any expat working in Saudi Arabia will tell you they’ve been repeatedly approached by co-workers or acquaintances, asking if they’d like to meet their friend who happens to be a single girl or guy. Due to social restrictions, a lot of introductions are done this way. You just need to be open to the idea and accept the invitation.
Yes, it is true the intent here is to get you married off, but you’d be surprised at the open-mindedness and tolerance of many young singles. If you’re looking for discrete encounters, I would avoid this route, but it is one of the easiest ways of dating in Saudi Arabia. If you start acting like a player, though, your friends won’t introduce you to anyone else. You may even lose their friendship.
5. Hotel Restaurants
Despite the high price tag of hotel restaurants, many of these have weekly co-ed brunches. This is more of a group environment, so I would advise bringing someone with you. Dress your absolute best and make occasional eye contact and smile. This is probably the hardest way to meet that special someone, but you’ll be mingling with an elite caste of Saudis. You’ll also find the occasional prince or princess, and I always believe in constant exposure…
… You just never know what it can lead to.
Between all five of these methods, you should easily be able to meet that special someone. If you do end up dating in Saudi Arabia, be very respectful and tactful, it’ll go a long way. If you’re a woman and are considering dating or marrying a Saudi, please read my post about being a woman in Saudi Arabia. If you’re a guy, remember that Saudi girls have a very romantic view of chivalry.
If you decide to meet, the best place is your place. It’s very direct, but it is one of the safest ways of meeting without having the religious police stalking you. Another way is to invite them to an embassy party as your guest, or to go to a liberal co-ed restaurant, usually found in hotels.
Family also matters greatly to both men and women in Saudi Arabia, as does religion and God. Modern Saudis are very tolerant of other religions, but not of atheism. No matter who you are, if you overtly state you do not believe in God and rant on about it, you’ll be shutting doors around you faster than you can say your name.
I know that the hurdles of meeting someone there are great and the laws so strict, but if you’re looking for old-world love with a modern-minded lover, Saudi Arabia’s singles have a lot to offer.
Dating in Saudi Arabia isn’t a hard thing.
There are plenty of diamonds to be found,
But if you’re a bit shy, sign up for Muslima and you’ll soon find plenty women and men to meet.
A few resources you may be interested in:
- Being A Woman in Saudi Arabia
- People want to know your story! Start a blog with SiteGround and share your Saudi experiences!
- Should Non-Saudi Women Get Involved With Saudi Men?
- Agoda for the best hotel deals in Saudi Arabia.
Have you ever tried dating in Saudi Arabia or a similar country? Do you feel that these restrictions lead to a higher quality relationship?