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Gulf lovers use smartphones to beat segregation

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Posted June 28, 2013

Jaber and his girlfriend flirt the day away, never wasting a minute to sweet-talk and dream of a future together, but like most Gulf Arab youths they can only do it virtually.

In the United Arab Emirates and all across the conservative Gulf countries, dating is unacceptable among nationals while arranged marriages are the norm.

To beat the segregation imposed by a stern society, young men and women meet through chatting applications available on smartphones.

Sitting in a coffee shop in a luxurious Abu Dhabi mall, the love-struck Emirati young man holds a tea cup in one hand while the other one is busy typing love messages on the keyboard of his BlackBerry.

“I saw her at the movies. I asked an employee there to hand her my BlackBerry PIN code,” Jaber recalls with a grin the day he met his girlfriend.

“I didn’t really expect her to add me to her contact list, or for such a love story to evolve between us,” said Jaber, who is in his 20s.

But it did and the first cyberspace encounter took place two months later when the young woman mustered enough courage and linked up with Jaber via Skype.

It was a short meeting, said Jaber, who staunchly refused to reveal his girlfriend’s name because making their relationship public would trigger a scandal in their conservative society.

That first Skype date was enough “to affirm our love,” said the university graduate.

Read more at: Phys.org

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