Traditional, ultra-conservative societies like Saudi Arabia are learning to swipe right.
In Saudi Arabia’s infamously conservative society, interaction between single, unrelated members of the opposite sex is off the table, both culturally and legally. Being caught alone with a man who isn’t kin can put a woman in some serious hot water. Her reputation and marriage prospects could be out the window. As for men, they are forbidden from approaching women they don’t know.
The internet has opened new doors for single women in highly traditional societies, allowing them to chat with strangers discreetly from their homes, away from the eyes of family members. Saudi Arabia currently has the world’s densest population of Twitter users , and in books such as Girls of Riyadh (2007), written by a Saudi woman, you’ll discover how central and empowering internet communication has become.
But internet chat rooms are one thing and dating apps another. How do you date in a country like Saudi Arabia, where a woman’s every move is monitored?
Turns out that singles in Saudi Arabia don’t use Tinder or Badoo, which are currently the world’s two most popular dating apps . Instead, they log into WhosHere, the most popular meet-up app in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Nikia Johnson, who works for WhosHere, said in an email that Saudis use the app to make and meet new friends who are in their area or when traveling, as well as to chat and meet with people for dating purposes.
W ith the help of Susie Khalil, an American blogger living in Jeddah, we conducted a Facebook survey of current Saudi Arabia residents to get their views on dating and the apps that enable it. Most described a culture seemingly incompatible with a service such as WhosHere. In their view, older generations are mostly unaware of such apps and disapprove of dating itself. Continue reading How Do Dating Apps Work in Places Where Dating is Less Than Legal?