Dating in Saudi Arabia

Updated 2022-03-03 12:55

If there was one adjective that could describe dating in Saudi Arabia, it would be the word 'discreet'. Dating in Saudi Arabia is not really something people talk about. This doesn't mean that it doesn't exist - but you will most definitely find it more challenging than back home.

What is dating like in Saudi Arabia?

Technically, Saudis do not date - at least, not in the open. The traditional approach to families is quite straightforward: once someone is ready to get married, their parents match them with an appropriate candidate. Naturally, how strict these formalities are observed depends on the particular family.

In general, however, dating is basically illegal in the country. Two people of the opposite sex who are not related and not married mustn't spend time together alone. As you can imagine, this makes meeting people and getting to know them quite complicated.

Where to meet people in Saudi Arabia?

Despite the complications described above, there are still options for meeting people and dating in the country.

One of the safest ways to meet people in Saudi Arabia is online. Popular dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and others are all available in the country.

While getting to know people online is definitely convenient, you should always exercise due caution and be very careful about meeting people in person - as, technically, you would be breaking the law. You should all avoid sharing personal information online (like your address, where you work, etc.) with people you don't know well. When meeting someone for the first time, make sure to do this in a public place and let your friends know where you are going and with who.

Socializing with other expats is also a good way to, potentially, meet ‘the one'. To meet foreigners in your city, you can join expat groups and clubs and also socialize within your compound. In fact, this may be the easiest way around Saudi Arabia's strict rules as expat compounds are generally not affected by them. This means that you will be able to hang out in the open and spend time together as you would back home.

Meeting people in person, though not easy, is also possible. While there are still a lot of establishments that don't allow gender mixing, some restaurants and coffee shops are starting to bend the rules. Note, however, that any public displays of affection are a big no-no.

Relationships in Saudi Arabia

Moving into the next stage of your relationship in Saudi Arabia can be complicated. Unmarried couples aren't allowed to live together or stay in the same hotel room. This means that you will need to be very careful when it comes to intimacy and displays of affection.

If you are dating a Saudi national, things are even more complicated. Note that your Saudi boyfriend or girlfriend probably won't introduce you to their parents - as this is only done when two people intend to get married. Marrying foreigners is a very rare occurrence in Saudi societies - and something you should be aware of from the start. However, it is not uncommon for Saudi men to initiate dating with foreign women while hiding their marital status.

Dating in Saudi Arabia: summing things up

So, here's the gist.

Dating in Saudi Arabia is officially illegal (even though some young people do find their way around the restrictions).

Avoid spending time with people of the opposite sex in public.

Public displays of affection are not allowed and can have serious consequences.

Unmarried couples are not allowed to live together or stay in the same hotel room.

Dating a Saudi national can come with a lot of complications and may not be accepted by their family.

Useful links:

Riyadh Expatriates

Expatriates Jeddah

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