Bad breakups are made a hundred times worse by running into your ex… Social circles are small and very close-knit in the Middle East, so if a relationship goes sour, you’ll still ‘see’ your ex multiple times a week. The morning after pill is not sold over the counter in any Middle Eastern country (though access other hard prescription-only drugs often come under and over the counter) and visibly single women (without a ring on it) purchasing birth control pills — or braver yet — condoms may be judged or risk rejection by pharmacists! Chaperoned dates are still common in the Middle East. You’ll get judged if you date non-local-but-still-Arab-looking people.
But, by far, these are the most interesting (and controversial) statistics I’ve encountered lately.
I was initially writing this text as part of the next article but it became so lengthy that I decided to make it a separate post.
All the data presented in this article are based on user behaviours and responses to questionnaires on Ok Cupid, a popular (but not the most popular) dating site in the US.
We’ve gathered our ten favorite dating quirks that are unique to the Middle East. While discussing religion on the first date is pretty uncommon in the West, religious affiliation will come up within the first five minutes of a date in the Middle East - and certain religious pairings (such as Christian men with Muslim women) might be an automatic "NO"!
Whether you're a seasoned single, returning to the field, or looking to try dates in this region, these observations will help you navigate MENA match-ups. Your “date” might also include a friend or a cousin.
This from a mainly-expat outsider perspective and does not account for all Arab or local experiences and possibilities.... Just be sure not to put these hacks in use until after the fasting month has run its course and we're into EID! Chaperoned dates are still common in the Middle East. You’ll get judged if you date non-local-but-still-Arab-looking people.
You won’t have to worry about your date making inappropriate advances - but a third party asking prying personal questions might get a little awkward! Not only can you not kiss your date in public, but many malls and public spaces have signs prohibiting hand-holding! What might be okay in a Lebanese cafe could get you thrown into jail in Saudi Arabia! Basically, you're going to get judged on the race or religion of your date no matter what!
While hookup culture is widespread, insinuating that someone might not be a virgin (especially an Arab woman) is one of the most offensive things you can do in the Middle East.
Approach conversations about past romantic entanglements with caution.