I’ve just emerged from a 15 hour Lord of the Rings DVD daze so my eyes are having some difficulty trying to differentiate between fantasy and reality, which is why I was taken aback from this little news report.
A strange venture has started recently over the phone that offers customers an opportunity to call a 700 number and talk to an operator who might find them a match, provided they stay on hold long enough.
The purveyors of this new 700 service are spreading their advertisements over the Internet, via SMS messages and in brochures distributed in coffee shops and cybercafes. Their main target: Young Saudi men. The service is trying to legitimize this operation by claiming it is sanctioned by Shariah. But the motives for the service appear to be less than pure.
Callers must first wait through verses from the Holy QurÃ¢??an and a recorded message about the matchmaking program that lasts more than five minutes before speaking to a Ã¢??sheikhÃ¢?Â Ã¢?? if theyÃ¢??re fortunate enough not to be put on hold again listening to another recording informing them that the Ã¢??sheikhÃ¢?Â is busy with another wife-seeking customer.
By now the main motive of this venture should be apparent: While on hold, customers are shelling out SR10 a minute.
For callers foolish enough to wait, they are met with an application form they must fill out over the phone that asks for name, age, gender, nationality, race, tribal affiliation, salary range, height, weight and other questions aimed at milking the forlorn customer out of more money.
The service also asks the customer to describe what kind of wife he is seeking, her ideal location, and whether he wants a Ã¢??misyarÃ¢?Â or normal marriage. The costly phone call ends by giving the caller a secret number to track his application, and the service asks for contact information to verify the customerÃ¢??s sincerity in his attempt to find a spouse.
Predictably, the service has faced criticism. Complaints by citizens have been filed to the Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) calling for a stop to this scam. STC officials have said that they only provide the technology and that it is up to telecommunications regulators to authorize or deny such ventures.
So, whatÃ¢??s the alternative?
There are not-for-profit matchmaking charity organizations sanctioned by the Ministry of Justice that are designed specifically for this type of service Ã¢?? free of charge.
Ã¢??I know that marriage arrangement is something that people do for free. There are many websites available online that arrange for marriage for free,Ã¢?Â said Musleh Al-Shamari, a Saudi citizen. Ã¢??This service is a scam because any number that starts with 700 is a scam. It is very strange that I hear of a 700 number that offers marriage for people. It should be stopped and people should not fall victim to it.Ã¢?Â [article]
Well on Friday I saw this sign posted on the street in Toronto and after reading this I’ve come to the conclusion that it must be a good thing that both the eastern and western civilization are finally coming together on different ends of the spectrum in order to destroy the sanctity of marriage.