Digital matchmaking leads to marriage in Saudi

Online relationship lasted 3 years


After three years of digital courtship involving instant messaging and webcam meetings a Saudi couple has decided to take their virtual relationship into the real world for their wedding, which will take place later this year.

The relationship began when a Saudi man, in his thirties, started chatting with a girl he met online through MSN Messenger. With the approval of the girl’s mother the couple began chatting regularly online.

Three years after meeting online and chatting, the mother agreed to allow the Saudi suitor to take a "legitimate look" at her daughter using a webcam.

According to Sheikh Abdul-Mohsen al-Obeikan, the couple viewing one another through the Internet is religiously permissible as long as others do not see them.

The wedding will take place in the Greater Bairam following the next Eid Al-Adha, the Saudi newspaper al-Madina reported last week.

According to one of the largest surveys of its kind, a 2007 poll found the rate of spinsterhood, or women that had not married by age 30, in Saudi had reached 2.6 percent. Spinsters in Saudi are estimated at more than 180,000, or one in sixteen women.

According to the same study, the percentage of divorced women and widows are both 5.4 percent.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)