I received a recent email from a follower of American Bedu who wishes to have some questions answered. The individual brought up some good points, especially when you apply logic with the rules and regulations of Saudi Arabia. Dating and public mixing of the sexes is prohibited in Saudi Arabia. Many marriages are arranged. Therefore, the reader wished to know with such regulations and traditions in place are there “love marriages” in Saudi Arabia or are they isolated to the upper class and Royals? Additionally, with such strict laws in Saudi Arabia, then how does a man flirt with another woman or marry another woman?
These are powerful questions and sensitive questions. Yes; dating and public mixing of the sexes is prohibited. However, that does not prevent young Saudis from contact with one another. The young Saudi men (and women too) can be creative when it comes to having contact with one another. I am not necessarily referring to meeting for a tete-a-tete but rather the increase use of social networking. Some young men may continue to use their Bluetooth on their mobile phone to exchange phone numbers and messages with young women. Some young men may also toss a paper to a woman with their mobile phone number. However more and more are going to social networking sites like Facebook or arabfriendz where they can “virtually meet” and get to know one another.
Contact between unrelated Saudi men and women remains frowned upon. As a result, there are many within Saudi Arabia who view the use of social networking as haram (forbidden). Naturally there are risks to the use of social network sites too. A Saudi woman must always consider her reputation, honor and that of her family. The Saudi men should take the same factors into consideration but in reality he is allowed much more leeway than a Saudi woman when it comes to interactions with unrelated females. I am not going to go further into interactions or consequences of the use of social networking sites other than to reiterate it is a venue where some unrelated Saudis have made initial contact which eventually led to a traditional meeting of families and marriage.
Traditional arranged marriages take place between families which know one another and believe their children would be compatible for one another. Or is some cases, the marriage is viewed as a connection between tribes which has been a tradition even prior to the Kingdom being known as Saudi Arabia but simply as Arabia. Marriages between cousins remain commonplace in Saudi Arabia.
It should also be pointed out that “love marriages” are not isolated to the case of upper class or Royals. In fact, Royals will marry within the family, usually to a first, second or third cousin…at least for the first marriage.