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“I like my job — I speak numbers,” she says, smiling.

Then she channels her father and says: “Why would you date — where does this go?

”It is both a blessing and curse that Lulwa is not searching for a partner in her native Riyadh.

Long forbidden, dating has arrived in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom with some Saudis meeting and marrying without the help of relatives.

Well-heeled millennials meet via Tinder, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.

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.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.While most restaurants still separate men and women into sections for men and “families,” young couples are increasingly appearing in public together in a handful of cafes and other eateries.“Two years back we wouldn’t even be able to sit together — people would get the wrong idea,” says Waleed, a 27-year-old software engineer with the square jaw of a model.“Change has come to Saudi Arabia.”Much of Waleed’s "love relationship" with his girlfriend has taken place online.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.And thanks to government efforts at increasing Saudi Arabia's employment rate, more and more women are working and studying near if not alongside men, providing a plethora of romantic possibilities. 24 when the powerful crown prince declared that the country would return to “moderate” Islam and “eradicate” extremism.Unlike her career, Fadila’s love life has been a string of disappointments.Afterward, Fadila decided to focus on academics, where she has excelled.She gained an honors degree in accounting and now has a good career.

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