Arab women are women who hail from the Arab world which consists of the Middle East and North African region. Nowadays you can find Arab women in the Western world as well as first, second or third generation citizens of these countries.
One common misconception that arises in regard to Arab women is that they are all Muslim. While majority of the Arab world follows the religion of Islam, there are still other religions that co-exist with Islam. Simply put, Islam is the religion whilst Arab is the culture. Another thing to note is that the reason for the confusion arises from the fact that most governments in the Arab world have followed Islamic principles as the basis for governance especially as pertains to women’s rights, roles and obligations in society. The position of women in Arab societies has been greatly misunderstood. A common misconception is that Arab women are generally oppressed and are acquiescent to men. However a closer look reveals that women are actually very highly respected with their most important virtue being that of modesty. Most Arab women are easily identifiable by their traditional dress which includes the Hijab, Abayas, Niqab and Burqa.
Arab Women and Dating
Generally, Arab women are not allowed to date. When discussing dating in the Arab world it is necessary to differentiate between the western version of dating and the Arab version. For Arabs today, dating is only allowed with marriage as the end goal of these interactions. The differences between western dating and Arab dating do not end there. In fact, in some parts of the Arab world, single Arab men and single Arab women who are not related are not allowed to interact and segregation of the sexes still exists even in public areas.
Arranged marriages are still the most popular way for Arabs to date and meet potential marriage partners. There are mainly two types of arranged marriages. The most common one is where the families of the prospective spouses arrange the marriage in the sense the bride and groom may not know each other or know of each other. When an Arab man decides that he wants to settle down he involves his mother. He tasks his mother with the job of looking for a suitable spouse. His mother with the help of aunties and friends will begin to network amongst the community searching for suitable single Arab women from good families. One thing to point out is that in Arab culture, a marriage is not only about the two individuals coming together but rather the joining together of two families who share similar goals and values. Once the family has settled on the suitable spouses, a meeting is arranged for the prospective bride and groom. This meeting is normally chaperoned and is held at any of the prospective spouses’ homes. The other type that is becoming more popular is one where the couple have known each other for a while and have decided to take the relationship to the next level that is marriage.
Contrary to popular belief, the prospective spouses normally have the last say as to whether the marriage will proceed or not. If both spouses agree to proceed with the marriage then the couple is allowed to date or court each other. However even though they may have the permission to date there are still certain rules that apply. The couple can meet and get to know each other however these dates must be chaperoned and must be in a public place. There should be no physical intimacy between the couple such as holding hands. The relationship should have at its foundation honesty and purity. It is not unusual for a couple to get engaged after the first meeting or after a few dates. Arabs believe that the process of getting to know each other occurs during the engagement and marriage. After the engagement, the couple then signs the contract of marriage. This contract stipulates the terms and conditions of the marriage. It contains each spouse's’ specific responsibilities within the marriage. Other terms may include the amount to be paid as dowry and in what forms. The contract is signed in the presence of witnesses. Once the contract has been signed then the various celebrations involved with the wedding process can begin. The most important for the bride is her henna party. The henna party is the Arab version of the Western hen night. During the henna party, the bride’s hands and feet are painted with intricate henna designs. Her female relatives and friends gather for a night of singing, dancing and henna painting. The last wedding celebration is normally the wedding reception.
As technology has advanced, a lot of single Arab women are turning to the internet in their search for suitable spouses. Online dating has offered single Arab women the chance to choose the partners they want without necessarily going against the rules of dating set-up by the culture.
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