Myths

  • Most men have four wives.​​

According to Sharia, a man may have up to four wives at any one time, provided he is able to treat them all equally. In practice, only a minority of men have the financial means or the energy to provide for such large families. Two or three-wife families are not uncommon, but in general, younger generations of women are less willing to share a husband.  

  • A woman has no choice who she marries

Both the man and the woman must formally agree to a pairing before an engagement is announced. A woman will also generally request a pre-nuptial agreement before she allows a ring on her finger. ​

  • Child marriage is commonly practiced

Saudi Arabia is one of six countries in the world with no minimum legal age for marriage. In rural areas and among poorer families some girls are still married in their mid-teens. However, the average is now around 26, not dissimilar to the USA, with girls and their families coming to value education and financial security over early nuptials.  

  • Saudis don't date

Officially, unrelated adult men and women are forbidden from socialising unchaperoned. Unofficially, bluetooth link-ups at the traffic lights, Skype sessions and discrete drivers mean many young lovers still enjoy their trysts, their tiffs and their heartaches. 

How to find a Saudi husband

A pair of university students in the capital give a brief presentation on the etiquette of Saudi courtship.

LOVE & MARRIAGE

"If the first wife can’t have children, or if they have many children but have serious issues as a couple, it’s better for him to get another wife than to divorce her, than to abandon her. I think even in the West, people could appreciate this." - The Designer 

"I don't want to see my husband before I get married. If he sees you before, he won't marry you. It doesn't matter how well he knows you, he won't respect you. He'd say, "She calls, she sees me, she'll see someone else too!." - The Student 

"I want my mother involved, honestly! Your parents, they just want the best for you. If they say no to a match, it's for a reason. They have more experience. Maybe they can see something in him that you can't." - The Artist

"I mean, if that was the case, that love marriages are always better, you woudn't see people all over the world getting divorced.  Sometimes, arranged marriages work very well actually." - The Princess

"I think in some cases it [polygamy] can be a good thing , [...] but for me personally? No! I'd kill him! - The Secretary

Saudis speak