Considered the birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia contains two of Islam’s most holy shrines located in Medina and Mecca, destination for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
This fact, in addition to a strict interpretation of Islam termed Wahhabism, has resulted in the creation of a highly religious national identity.
Yasser is homosexual, or so we would describe him in the West, and the barbershop we visited caters to gay men. Leaving the barbershop, we drove onto Tahlia Street, a broad avenue framed by palm trees, then went past a succession of sleek malls and slowed in front of a glass-and-steel shopping center. Whereas most such establishments have a family section, two of this area’s cafés allow only men; not surprisingly, they are popular among men who prefer one another’s company.
But in pursuit of love, oppressed Saudis -- especially men -- are desperately using mobile apps to try to find a date (or spouse? One such app is Caller Smart, an i Phone service providing caller I. It was the the user comments that caught Arabic speakers using the app romantically. We ran those comments through Google Translate and they seemed to be harmless flirting. You are pretty,' type of stuff." Caller Smart's founder Brian Crane told me in an email.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.Yasser, a 26-year-old artist, was taking me on an impromptu tour of his hometown of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on a sweltering September afternoon.The air conditioner of his dusty Honda battled the heat, prayer beads dangled from the rearview mirror, and the smell of the cigarette he’d just smoked wafted toward me as he stopped to show me a barbershop that his friends frequent.