Daily Archives: Thursday, 27 September, 2007

Saudi Arabia Conflicted about Bluetooth

This article http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Religion/?id=1.0.1355799787 in AdnKronos e-news says that Saudi Arabia has just banned

the use of wireless Bluetooth technology for sending photographs, video and audio on cellular telephones.

Cellphones equipped with Bluetooth are “haram” or prohibited according to the laws of Islam, the Council of the Ulema has declared.

But just a week ago, according to this article http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=1&id=10235,

the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in the Riyadh region has decided to embrace Bluetooth technology in its daily activities, despite it condemning it use by the Saudi public for a number of years.

However, they plan to use it to send a number of awareness messages to youths visiting the kingdom’s shopping centers.

Way back in early 2006, according to this article http://www.forbes.com/2006/02/13/arabian-diary-day-one-cx_daa_0213diary.html,

Some pull out their Bluetooth mobiles and check out the messages — boys and girls seeking to hook up in the dim light of the second floor where singles can mix and mingle.

Omar flipped on his Bluetooth. Immediately there were messages from “Love Maiden” and “Big Girl.”

“If you want a date, you come to the Java Lounge, turn on your Bluetooth and wait around,” says Omar, who’s 28 years old, divorced (far less of a stigma for a young man than a young woman) and very much a man-about-Jeddah.

Even all the way back in 2005 the genie was already out of the bottle*, per this article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8916890/

But for many Saudi youths, who have almost nowhere to meet members of the opposite sex, the technology is a godsend. It is replacing a favorite method of flirting: throwing phone numbers at women through car windows or in shopping malls.

With Bluetooth, men and women can safely flirt at malls, restaurants and even traffic lights.

On a recent warm night, Abdullah Muhammad sat in front of his laptop at a sidewalk cafe waiting for his computer’s Bluetooth to pick up nearby users.

“I use Bluetooth to meet girls,” said the 24-year-old businessman. “The religious police cannot catch me.”

His long, dark hair combed back, Muhammad said when he sees a woman walking past, he presses the search button in the hope her phone’s Bluetooth is on.

With women forced to cover up in the kingdom, how can he tell if she is someone he would like to start a relationship with?

“I check her Bluetooth ID,” he said. “If it’s cute, then I’m pretty sure she will be pretty.”

*Genie, bottle, see how I used Arab imagery there?

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