Coffee Break (Part 2)

The second installment in a series of conversations between two friends – one from Saudi Arabia, one from the United States. You can read Part 1 here.

{5pm. The evening rush. The café is full, but not crowded. A young woman is seated at a small table next to the wall on the other side of the café. Her three-inch Jimmy Choos are crossed under her seat, the right shoe tapping nervously against the left}

“She looks anxious. Do you think she’s waiting for someone?”

“Yeah, and I don’t think he’s coming!”

{Laughs} “Okay, let’s see.”

{Walking up to cashier} “This one is on me. You like mocha, right?”

“I am a latté girl now! And no, thanks. Of course I’m gonna pay for both of us. Are you kidding?”

“Don’t worry about it, I’ve already have my credit card out.”

“Just keep it for another time! I insist on paying!”


{The cashier looks at us irritated and confused} “So…”

“Well you don’t have to beg me not to spend money! Where were you when I was paying my rent?!”

{As she pays, I turn out around and notice a young man approaching the woman at the table} “I guess I would have lost that bet, huh?!”

“Yay! Someone is getting married soon!”

“What?! CLEARLY they are meeting for the first time. What if one of them smells bad?! There’s a lot to figure out on a first date!”

“That’s right! I don’t know why, but I feel like they’ll make a good couple.”

“I feel like there should be separate sections of cafés just for people on first dates!”

{Laughs} “That would make the U.S. similar to Saudi with two separate sections in each coffee shop!”

“Yeah, that’s still the craziest thing I’ve heard all year. So is there some guy who is the relationship police asking people for relationship identification before they enter the café?!”

“Not exactly! But if a couple shows too much affection in public then they usually get caught! The typical image of Saudi couples is of the old-fashioned husband and wife who go out to have fun. Innocent kind of fun. No flirting or anything. That should be kept at home!”


“I think if this guy tries to show too much affection on a first date, he might get caught! But it doesn’t seem like you can have much fun when you have to flirt across the room with someone in a separate section! How do you all do it?”

“You are HILARIOUS! Once two people are separated in their sections the flirting ends! Unless they do it through WhatsApp or something!”

“Or through hand signals. Or through paper airplanes with love notes on them. Or you could just wear a love emoji t-shirt and stand so that the other person can see you!”

“Lol! That’s only if the partition was transparent so you could see the other person across the room! Unfortunately that ain’t the case.” 

“To be honest, it’s easier to date online than in a café when in Saudi! Lol!”

“Dating online is many things, but easy isn’t one of them. What if you swipe right on the wrong face?! Or accidentally DM a girl while her boyfriend is standing next to her?! I’d rather keep it simple, you know? Good ol’ face-to-face meetings”

“HAHAHA! Yeah! but what I meant is that it’s easier to meet your date online rather than face-to-face when in Saudi! That way they can talk normally without being afraid of being caught or anything!”

“I guess this means you wouldn’t have to get dressed up to go on a date, right? Oh wait, you would still have to look nice because you’d be on camera! But what about the lighting? How do you get the camera to stay at the right angle during the date? What if your battery dies?”

“Thanks to filters now everybody looks nice on camera!”

“This is true. But now I’m even more confused. Partitions, separate sections, no face-to-face dating…what CAN you do in a Saudi café?!”

“Why drink coffee of course HAHAHA! Let me go grab a sandwich and come back to tell you all about it!”

About the Authors


Noor is a Saudi blogger and educator, and the founder of Saudi Female Blog, a non-profit online organization for Saudi women and society. She likes to read about psychology and literature, eat bagels, and collect random people’s stories. Check out more of her work on her blog, Behind that Saudi Veil.


Deji is an American educator, and the creator/curator of Class of Hope & Change, a podcast documentary about millennials of color in the U.S. and online platform for ideas, music and good vibes. He likes good music, good movies, good people…and cookies.

The two authors met last fall for Noor’s interview on the Class of Hope & Change podcast. Listen to the full interview here.