There is a dress code in Riyadh for women: loose robe-dresses called abayas have to be worn in public at all times, but the law does not require veils over faces or scarves covering heads.Yet more often than not women cover up almost completely. That baffles Abdulrahman and many other young men and women in Riyadh.But women stay inside, so we can finish our mocha coffees unnoticed. But some among the older generation fear that “freedom” for 20-somethings means vice like drugs, alcohol or premarital sex.All of which, they say, are advocated by foreigners on social media.The thought of courting (romantically) in Saudi Arabia is hard to believe, let alone casual dating. In a country with strict gender-segregation rules and ultra Islamic-conservative practices it’s hard to comprehend the idea of dating. So, for all you single expats venturing out to Saudi Arabia this may in fact be the place you find your soul mate (cheesy, I know).
“Even some families now accept that a couple are friends before their marriage,” she explains.The girls, 15-year-old Bassama, 17-year-old Selma, and their sister, 27-year Amani and her daughter, say the changes in their society, coupled by the maintenance of traditions, keeps them safe - at least from strict parents.Their parents allow them to go out as many nights as they want, says Selma, as long as they are veiled and refrain from contact with boys.Like most places in the popular dining district, it is for men only.If Saudi religious police drive by, it could be bad for business.