Different Cultures, One Love: Exploring Romantic Love in the Arab World

  • Michael J. OghiaEmail author


Romantic love is a concept that is foreign to few cultures. However, romantic love has largely been overlooked within the social scientific and crosscultural academic literature in the Arab world. While there is a rich literary and artistic tradition concerning love in the region, contemporary feelings, manifestations, and conceptualizations, as well as the perceived value and utility of love remains unclear and undocumented. This is problematic because love, often connected to many social institutions and concepts, is becoming increasingly desired, and the region is bombarded with external cultural narratives and discourses of love and romantic relationships due to forces such as globalization and ubiquitous transnational mass media. This chapter addresses the cultural characteristics and intercultural tensions related to romance and love in the Arab world, and explores the features of the Arab romantic narrative and the contentious nature of love in Arab culture. This study also seeks to generate knowledge of how love is defined and valued using a sample of students from the American University of Beirut (AUB). The results reveal that romantic love is desired. Additionally, the participants’ conceptualizations of love were diverse and vibrant. The results also reveal that cultural narratives surrounding love and marriage are often confusing and contradictory, and a sample of Arab youth are incorporating alternative narratives into their conceptualization of love. Implications include the convergence and globalization of local and external romantic narratives, and the seeds of renegotiating how romantic relationships function and the redefinition of marriage and courtship.


Romantic love Relationship formation Arab world Lebanon Culture Arab youth 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.BeşiktaşTurkey

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