The Middle East and Gulf States
Family is very important in the Arab culture. Many Arab families, especially those from the Middle East and Gulf regions believe in arranged marriages and therefore most Arab women are not allowed to date before marriage. It is common for the man to rely on his female relatives to find a mate among friends. With the wide spread of shopping malls, however, these have been popular meeting places for young men and women. In the parts of the Gulf, a formal relationship is marked by a marriage contract and the man brings his future bride gifts such as jewelry and perfume each time he visits her.
When an Arab woman is dating, she usually keeps this a secret to protect her reputation and her family’s reputation. Shame is not taken lightly in Arab cultures, and if an Arab does something embarrassing or shameful, it not only affects her but her whole family as well. Because Arab women are supposed to be conservative, her chances of finding someone to marry may be ruined if she gets a bad reputation of being someone who goes out with different men. How she behaves and whether people gossip about her is very important to help guard her reputation.
Virginity is still honored in the Arab culture, and most Arab women would like to keep their virginity until marriage. This is also seen as reflecting the honor of the family. Most recently, a lot of Arab men and women who date may engage in sexual activities but still do not have intercourse.
United States and Canada
In Western societies it is easier for an Arab woman to date non-Muslim men because of their openness of mixed-gender interactions in school or at work. Although intermarriages outside Islam occur, it’s still quite rare. However, being able to have the freedom to attend school and go to work in Western nations also allows women to meet men and go on "hidden" dates.
Arab parents in the west look for other ways for their children to meet prospective mates. They usually organize events such as speed-dating sessions and matrimonial dinners where they can meet with potential mates in a highly monitored environment. However, people are still able to meet through online sites where they can chat and meet people through mutual friends.
Do not be surprised if you are dating an Arab woman who brings along a chaperone of friends or family because this is a normal situation even in Western societies since the concept of dating is strictly forbidden in Islam. Although men and women are allowed to choose their own partners, parents are still involved in the process.
In addition to family, respect, reputation and virtue in Arab cultures, education is very important when dating Arab women. The family sees education as a way of being able to secure a future for your daughter. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree or, even better, a post-graduate degree gives you an advantage when dating Arab women.