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So meeting, dating and getting married can be a treacherous obstacle course.
Secrecy is the norm, particularly when it comes to sex.“The elephant in the room is that everybody engages in it, but nobody talks about it,” says Lulwa, an aspiring filmmaker who wears bright red lipstick and lets her headscarf slip off when she thinks she can get away with it.
Whole families can be disgraced if one member — particularly a female — is seen to have stepped outside of society’s strict social norms.
Afterward, Fadila decided to focus on academics, where she has excelled.
While applicable the world over, Shakespeare’s words are particularly true in swiftly changing Saudi Arabia.
Long forbidden, dating has arrived in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom with some Saudis meeting and marrying without the help of relatives.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The course of true love never did run smooth.
But the relationship has no future unless Lulwa leaves her country, or he proposes marriage and converts to Islam. Finding and maintaining a relationship is a challenge even for those who haven’t fallen for a foreigner.
Fadila, 29, an accountant, has been looking for love in all the wrong places since she was a teenager.
The two used to sit in his car, where she felt safe.
But the couple was, in fact, being watched by the religious police. She says it later emerged that he had been having affairs with a number of women and drinking regularly.“They wanted him, but they used me to get to him,” she says.