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“You know you’re getting serious if you’re on Snapchat,” said Dima, 19, a university student in Riyadh, the capital.At the food court of a popular mall in the capital, she donned the hair-concealing garment required of women here as she described juggling three men whom she met recently on Twitter and Instagram.
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.
If caught engaging in unsanctioned romance, people — especially women — face social stigma and harsh punishment from families.
They must also contend with religious police, who monitor not only malls and coffeehouses but also online forums.
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.
More recently, Saudis used wireless Bluetooth technology to connect with people in their immediate vicinity.