She spent years studying abroad and has an American boyfriend whom she says she would “never” introduce to her family.
But the relationship has no future unless Lulwa leaves her country, or he proposes marriage and converts to Islam. Finding and maintaining a relationship is a challenge even for those who haven’t fallen for a foreigner.
“I like my job — I speak numbers,” she says, smiling.
Since her experience, the religious police have been stripped of much of their power.
Afterward, Fadila decided to focus on academics, where she has excelled.
She gained an honors degree in accounting and now has a good career.
Fadila, 29, an accountant, has been looking for love in all the wrong places since she was a teenager.
Early on, her beguiling smile had boys asking for her telephone number.
“They said, ‘If you sign, we’ll take you home and not tell your parents.’ Instead they took me to jail.”Her mother and brother got her released the next day, and the episode has been kept secret from everybody else except her best friend.
Secrecy is the norm, particularly when it comes to sex.“The elephant in the room is that everybody engages in it, but nobody talks about it,” says Lulwa, an aspiring filmmaker who wears bright red lipstick and lets her headscarf slip off when she thinks she can get away with it.
Lulwa, 27, bridles at a deep-seated sexism in Saudi society that she says reduces women to their reproductive functions, even among some members of her liberal circle in which the genders mix and alcohol is sometimes served at parties.“You were born to give birth — that’s your mission in life,” she says.
She tried Tinder but that didn’t work.“They think you’re bad because you go out with them and make out with them,” she laments.
“My friends say, ‘If you like him, don’t let him touch you.’”So about six months ago, her heart aching, Fadila gave up and decided to do the unthinkable. Single Saudi adults hardly ever live outside the family home. Then the respective fathers and brothers gathered in Fadila’s home, which is when she first met and assessed her future fiance.