Dating in middle eastern culture

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AMMAN -- At nine on a Thursday night, La Calle -- a popular bar in Amman -- is just starting to fill up.

A Jordanian woman in a low-cut shirt shares a love seat with a man with slicked-back hair; the two lean in close, talking quietly and laughing.

But for those interested in exploring, "there are more opportunities and there are better opportunities to keep it private," said Andrea Rugh, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D. At the bar in [email protected], Mohamed Qawasmeh and his friend Shadi Al-Saeed flirt with a group of American girls.

The two Jordanian 20-somethings said that a few years ago there were only one or two places where they could go to get a drink and meet girls. "It's not weird for anyone to say I'm going clubbing.

Today the trend continues, as people move to cities or abroad for work.

Upstairs couples mingle on the balcony where it's not uncommon to see a pair steal more than just a friendly kiss.

This is the scene of the new, trendy Middle East, where (for a small group) sex before marriage is possible.

How far young people take their relationship "depends on how you were raised and how open your parents are," Sheila said.

Additionally, the growing number of liberal hangouts afford couples and singles the opportunity to flirt and mingle without the possibility of running into someone who might report back to their family, said Khalil "KK" Hareb, who works at La Calle. "People are going out more, it's very open, and now you can walk down the street in certain places [in Amman] and no one will bother you." Read more from Global

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