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Matchmaking Agencies Annoy Married Women

RIYADH, 24 January 2006 — Matchmaking agencies are spreading in Riyadh and they openly advertise in public places, according to a report in Al-Watan newspaper.

The phenomenon is strange to local society and has created confusion and anger among women to the extent that many of them are calling these agencies and begging them to stop advertising. Others are threatening them and accusing them of blackmail and only thinking of profits.

Naser Abdullah, a Saudi, said that he did not trust the matchmaking agencies because he had tried to use and found them concerned only with profit.

“I tried them once and they demanded that I wire some money to them. Then they asked me to wire more money and they would give me the bride’s address. And then I would have to send more money before the marriage took place. I do not think that they are serious because they only care about the money which is non-refundable,” said Abdullah.

Some women said by advertising openly these agencies persuade their husbands to try their services, while others complain that their husbands use the agencies to look for new wives. The women want the practice to be stopped.

The matchmaking agencies charge between SR500 and SR1,500 and sometimes the money must be paid even before the bride’s age is disclosed. The money is transferred by wire to account numbers given by phone or e-mail and many men who use this service lose contact once the money has been transferred.

The matchmaking agencies are now everywhere. In the past, such things were done by female matchmakers.

Their activities confined to the neighborhood they lived in. At present, matchmaking is better organized and covers a much wider area with the use of the Internet. Matchmakers give the impression to men that they are the only link between them and their dream woman.

Al-Watan contacted an employee of a matchmaking agency. He said they do not reveal the name of the bride and only give some information about her personality and her level of education. If the applicant wants more information about the girl and shows signs of seriousness, only then do they charge him a down payment with the understanding that he must pay no less than SR4,000 if a marriage is agreed upon.

Abdullah Ibrahim, owner of a matchmaking agency, said occasionally he receives phone calls from angry wives in which they swear at him, portraying him as an evil creature out to destroy their homes. Some women give him full information on their husbands and promise to pay him large sums of money if he supplies them with information about their husband if he tries to find another wife. Some women, however, simply offer to pay him a large sum of money for closing down his business.