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Abdulrahman al-Shuqir, a sociologist at the Ministry of Higher Education who writes about the history of sexual relations in Saudi Arabia, said private communication channels available on social-media networks help foster meaningful relationships.
That in turn, he said, has led to an apparent rise in physical encounters between unmarried people.
Ahmad al-Ghamdi, a former chief of the religious police in the city of Mecca, said the force feels threatened by social media because “it makes it harder to supervise people.” He said he resigned from his position in protest of abuses committed by members of the religious police, which is tasked with enforcing Islamic law.
Their relationship evolved into secret excursions in his vehicle and steamy encounters, she said.
Because of the sensitivity of the topic, she and other people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Even though her mother has tried to introduce her to men in more traditional ways, she prefers courtship on social media. “I don’t want to be pushed into a relationship with a stranger.” [Saudi Arabia is reeling from falling oil prices.
His wife of nearly a decade and mother of his two young daughters eventually asked for a divorce over the incident, said Turki, who spoke on the condition that his last name not be used.
[How Saudi Arabia’s 79-year-old King Salman is shaking up the Middle East] Saudis largely avoid Tinder and other formal dating apps popular in the West, preferring less conspicuous wooing techniques. That’s when a Saudi might try to grab that person’s attention by liking photographs and then sparking a private conversation in Whats App, an online-texting app. That’s when Saudis might start exchanging pictures on Snapchat.