Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Modern technology has once again facilitated the breaking of taboos in Saudi Arabia thanks to Bluetooth the short range wireless technology that is now available on most mobile phones. Saudi”s youth can confidently exchange messages between the sexes free from the familiar prying eyes of family in particular and society in general and without using the phone”s network service
Nasreen Hamd, a young Saudi woman praises Bluetooth technology saying, "After searching for another device that shares this service, you can send photos, or messages that express an interest in friendships, relationships or simply for entertainment! Personally, I use it to have fun at university."
As much as the service has attracted supporters, so too has it provoked much criticism in such a conservative society.
Sanaa Abdel Rahman, says, "It enables young men and women to become friends in social settings despite physical barriers, for example at restaurants," Sanaa admits that, "this form of modern technology is considered a violation of our social conventions." "However," she adds, "the same way in which society became accustomed to the idea of meeting a potential spouse over the internet, with caution of course, society may also get used to this new service. For now, only certain religious and social teachings are required."
Many youngsters are in favor of Bluetooth as it is practical and allows them to establish friendly relationships with members of the opposite sex, occasionally resulting in marriage.
Another Saudi woman who spoke to Asharq al-Awsat on condition on anonymity explained, "Modern telecommunications systems such as mobile phones have broken social taboos. We are only now beginning to enjoy such features that allow us more freedom. At the same time however, this form of advanced technology has deprived us of the concept of traditional romance."
Bluetooth has disgruntled many Saudis such as Layla Al-Majid who believes, "that modern technology will cause a transgression in social norms and traditions as it has facilitated the establishing of friendly ties between members of the opposite sex." Similarly dissatisfied with this technology, Fadwa Al-Jahni expresses her frustration with "ridiculous messages and scandalous pictures" that she receives causing her to turn her mobile phone off.
The question of technology”s facilitating of such freedom between men and women will continue to be the topic of heated discussions amongst older and younger generations of the conservative society of Saudi Arabia. The rapid and incessant development of technology awaits no body and no society for that matter. Saudi Arabia is now experiencing the complicated combination of traditional society and modern technology.