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Matchmaking Scams Are New Enemy In Saudi Arabia

Matchmaking Scams Are New Enemy In Saudi Arabia

RIYADH — With more than 257,000 unmarried women in the country, and strict religious codes, traditional matchmaking is a lucrative business in Saudi Arabia. Yet with the rise of social media and online marriage websites, the industry is coming under pressure to stay financially viable, which has led to several recent reports of scandals that have broken both hearts and the country's strict Islamic laws.

The recent allegations of matchmaking abuses led to an uproar that prompted the Saudi government to launch multi-ministry investigations and seek new regulations. The Saudi ministries of Justice, Interior and Social Affairs have highlighted particularly outrageous cases, in which matchmakers — sometimes operating with fake licenses — “tricked” their clients, Al-Arabiya reported.

For instance, a matchmaker "engaged" one of her female clients to two different men at the same time, receiving money from both. Another case reveals that a matchmaker bought several SIM cards to pose as a woman interested in marrying one of her clients. Others are under fire for posting photos of single women online, including very private information about their body type and height. Pictures of clients are never publicly displayed in Saudi Arabia — they remain in the hands of matchmakers.

Matchmakers play a crucial role in the Saudi society. The country's strict gender segregation makes it very difficult for potential mates to meet. Though the Internet has proved a boon for those looking to get married without familial interference, traditional matchmakers often provide more confidentiality.

Photo: hamza82

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Ideas

Joshimath, The Sinking Indian City Has Also Become A Hotbed Of Government Censorship

The Indian authorities' decision to hide factual reports on the land subsidence in Joshimath only furthers a sense of paranoia.

Photo of people standing next to a cracked road in Joshimath, India

Cracked road in Joshimath

@IndianCongressO via Twitter
Rohan Banerjee*

MUMBAI — Midway through the movie Don’t Look Up (2021), the outspoken PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is bundled into a car, a bag over her head. The White House, we are told, wants her “off the grid”. She is taken to a warehouse – the sort of place where CIA and FBI agents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in Hollywood movies – and charged with violating national security secrets.

The Hobson’s choice offered to her is to either face prosecution or suspend “all public media appearances and incendiary language relating to Comet Dibiasky”, an interstellar object on a collision course with earth. Exasperated, she acquiesces to the gag order.

Don’t Look Upis a satirical take on the collective apathy towards climate change; only, the slow burn of fossil fuel is replaced by the more imminent threat of a comet crashing into our planet. As a couple of scientists try to warn humanity about its potential extinction, they discover a media, an administration, and indeed, a society that is not just unwilling to face the truth but would even deny it.

This premise and the caricatured characters border on the farcical, with plot devices designed to produce absurd scenarios that would be inconceivable in the real world we inhabit. After all, would any government dealing with a natural disaster, issue an edict prohibiting researchers and scientists from talking about the event? Surely not. Right?

On January 11, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), one of the centers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), issued a preliminary report on the land subsidence issue occurring in Joshimath, the mountainside city in the Himalayas.

The word ‘subsidence’ entered the public lexicon at the turn of the year as disturbing images of cracked roads and tilted buildings began to emanate from Joshimath.

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