Black women living abroad on their experiences.
iluv2globetrot.com cofounder, 35
Location: Nizwa, Oman, 3 years
“I told myself that I wouldn’t date in the Middle East, and yet not even a week after moving to Nizwa I met a man who became my boyfriend. He was African-Omani and our first encounter was at a local hotel bar with friends. It was a whirlwind romance and we had a great time while it lasted. In Omani culture it is looked down upon to date a nonlocal, so he wanted to hide our relationship and we parted ways. It can be challenging dating here, since families usually set up potential mates for their children. As an expat,
Location: Amsterdam, 2.5 years
Hometown: New Orleans
“Amsterdam is a city of passion and hookups. You meet someone, go out a few times, cohabit without marriage and then have a baby. Folks move really fast. There appears to be little courtship and romance. I have met guys attending events, through friends and just out exploring the city. I have definitely found it hard to date as a single Black professional woman in Amsterdam, but it is no different from the struggle I faced in the U.S., with the exception that a lot of guys here are smokers.”
Educator and cofounder of Wandering Moms, 33
Location: Abu Dhabi, 3 years
Hometown: Beaumont, TX
“I moved to the United Arab Emirates three years ago with my three kids. Dating as a divorcée and single parent can be complicated whatever your geographic location, and doing it abroad is difficult. The expatriate community is a revolving door, which makes it more challenging to have a stable relationship. How long is your employment contract? becomes a must-ask question by date number two. On the upside, you have access to a new breed of well-traveled and educated men. I was once approached by a Muslim man in the parking lot of the grocery store. He gave me his number and assured me he didn’t have a wife, something I had to ask since polygamy is legal here. By our second date I had become a pro at navigating Google Translate as he spoke little English and my Arabic is nonexistent. We also communicated with images. I asked if he owned any camels and he just stared until I produced a picture. He then yelled out “Jamal” and nodded yes. We got looks from native women who attempted to figure out why an African-American expatriate sat with a local guy in traditional garb. He kept saying, “You very nice. Your skin beautiful” while tapping his wrist to show he was complimenting my skin color. All I could do was smile and throw shukrans, “thank you” in Arabic. Before the end of date two, he went in for the kill with “I take you wife” in a serious tone. In shock, I lost all verbal filter and said, “I like bacon and I love Jesus.” He continued to attempt to tell me my religion was no issue but he never addressed the bacon. We haven’t spoken since. I’ve taken a break from dating but know that one day my guy will find me. For those seeking love in the UAE, we have a very vibrant social life.”
This story originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of ESSENCE.