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“They’re quite shameless about it.” Talal, a Syrian who moved to Riyadh in 2000, calls the Saudi capital a “gay heaven.” This is surprising enough.
But what seems more startling, at least from a Western perspective, is that some of the men having sex with other men don’t consider themselves gay.
If they catch a boy and a girl on a date, they might haul the couple to the police station.
They make sure that single men steer clear of the malls, which are family-only zones for the most part, unless they are with a female relative.
“I disapprove,” Rania, a 32-year-old human-resources manager, told me firmly.
“Women weren’t meant to be with women, and men aren’t supposed to be with men.” This legal and public condemnation notwithstanding, the kingdom leaves considerable space for homosexual behavior.
As long as gays and lesbians maintain a public front of obeisance to Wahhabist norms, they are left to do what they want in private.
Last July, Jameel was seen cozying up to supermodel Naomi Campbell at the Summertime Festival in London’s Hyde Park. Though she joked “I’m an actress now, Andy” — Campbell ultimately said she doesn’t have a feud with anyone, “especially with black women, who are in the same thing and doing the same struggle.” Rihanna was previously linked to rapper Drake, whom she dated briefly in 2016.The air conditioner of his dusty Honda battled the heat, prayer beads dangled from the rearview mirror, and the smell of the cigarette he’d just smoked wafted toward me as he stopped to show me a barbershop that his friends frequent.Officially, men in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to wear their hair long or to display jewelry—such vanities are usually deemed to violate an Islamic instruction that the sexes must not be too similar in appearance.Jameel and Rihanna, who was dressed in a strapless brown bikini, relaxed in a pool and sipped champagne in between their steamy smooching.The businessman’s family owns Abdul Latif Jameel, the organization that – among many other ventures – owns the right to sell Toyota Motor vehicles in Saudi Arabia and several other Middle Eastern countries.