Tuesday 31 March 2009

The Algerian dating phenomenon

A new dating phenomenon has appeared on the Algerian social scene, I noted.

It seems the international dating rules and etiquette do not apply to the Algerian dating scene, the players make their own rules and play their games against a participating public who is oblivious to these rules, therefore claiming victory at each game and collecting the trophies and titles, leaving behind indignant or wounded parties both on the physical and emotional level, turning this game into a vicious circle that would ultimately have long-term effect on the overall socio-behaviour of the society.

We all know that "dating" comes from western cultures and that it is not really recognized in Islamic cultures, due to the strict rules of non-mixing before marriage, but due to the westernisation of most Islamic nations and the globalisation trend as well as other social activities such as Immigration; dating has become more tolerated and sometimes even encouraged, though it does remain frowned upon and even strictly forbidden in certain countries where free mixing is non-existent such is the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Now Algeria seems to be a completely different case; generally speaking you'll find a bit of everything in Algeria. you have the group where social free mixing is completely unheard of and dating is as common as the rain in the Sahara, and other groups where dating is a social activity that is completely accepted and tolerated, although this was not the case 10 years ago, things have changed and a sight of a couple walking down the street hand in hand is not totally shocking, providing you are talking about a big city with busy streets and local caf├ęs and tea-rooms where these couples could sit and enjoy a hassle-free date.
The first group is not so fortunate, as you'll find couples struggling to meet or even talk on the phone, where everything has to be scheduled and schemed carefully or it could mean trouble with the girl’s father or brothers or even in some cases, cousins and uncles, it could even go as far as neighbours in some extreme cases.

Now, in this blog, what I am concerned about isn't the dating itself but the new dating rules or should I say the abolition of these rules and etiquette. Where women have become important players despite the fact that men are still the more prominent ones and are still holding the dices. They have taken it to new levels, where women are usable and disposable and are actually okay with this; Marriage doesn’t even enter the agenda or at least is very cleverly hidden. It is all about non exclusivity, open relationships and affairs. You are a women, therefore you should know this is an open relationship and of determined duration, do not expect more than your given time and do not question the fact that there are more than two in your “relationship”, if you do (question) then you’re jus not open minded enough or at least not interesting – there is an expiration date and limit; its in fact expiration dating.

These players of both genders view their lifestyles as very westernised and therefore very developed and cultured; this is mainly due to the effect of westernisation and viewing everything European or American as cultured, developed and THE standard to follow, leaving indigenous and inherited “social” principals visibly diminished and neglected, which results in a very westernised generation that is torn between the old and the new, Islam and westernisation which could be explained by the socio-behavioural evolution that occurs naturally with the mixing of races and religions through trade and immigration but that is generally speaking, in Algeria specifically, the change is most significant in the younger generation of higher economic status, where financial freedom makes for an easy mean or access to the western world through travel, TV, mobile communication, cinema and fashion. This new generation it seems adopted their own culture and created their own “new” traditions which are a more contemporary urban set of traditions adopted from what they view as suitable for their lifestyles and times, this can be witnessed through the new dating behaviours mentioned above, the mixing of races (international marriages are now becoming a more common trend in Algeria), the wedding celebrations, this behavioural change extends to new dialects created and considered more “HIP”, hair styles and body arts, though we have to visit the issue of the recent Islamic revivalism, many young Algerians have a new found faith, wearing of Hidjab (Islamic veil) is high amongst the youth of middle and lower classes, putting this group in direct conflict with the latter which holds more liberal views. Can this be viewed as diversity? Or a new social concern?

So this brings us conclusively to the question of marriage since dating – the new dating phenomenon has created new rules and criteria’s that surely would affect the marriage decision of the players.
If the core values of the society have been modified, what are the criteria they based their searches for life partners on? Keeping the same dating criteria is not something impossible but quite rare, showing the hypocritical behaviour this dating phenomenon has engendered.

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