“Oh shit, it’s a checkpoint,” he said, inclining his head toward some traffic cops in brown uniforms. I rummaged through my purse, realizing that I’d left my passport in the hotel for safekeeping. As he resumed his narration, I recalled something he had told me earlier.

Yasser looked behind him to see if he could reverse the car, but had no choice except to proceed. “It’s a lot easier to be gay than straight here,” he had said.

We refer to these individuals throughout this report as “online daters,” and we define them in the following way: Taken together, 11% of all American adults have done one or both of these activities and are classified as “online daters.” In terms of demographics, online dating is most common among Americans in their mid-20’s through mid-40’s.

"In the last 30 years, public space in Saudi Arabia is getting smaller, there is less room for liberals, for women, for minorities.

They are less visible in the streets, so no one wants to watch a film in a public space," Mahmoud Sabbagh, the director of the film, told Al Jazeera.

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.

But Yasser wears a silver necklace, a silver bracelet, and a sparkly red stud in his left ear, and his hair is shaggy.

One in ten Americans have used an online dating site or mobile dating app themselves, and many people now know someone else who uses online dating or who has found a spouse or long-term partner via online dating.

General public attitudes towards online dating have become much more positive in recent years, and social networking sites are now playing a prominent role when it comes to navigating and documenting romantic relationships.

Yasser, a 26-year-old artist, was taking me on an impromptu tour of his hometown of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on a sweltering September afternoon.

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.

When it comes to cinema, Saudi Arabia does not have much of a tradition, with only a few feature films and documentaries produced every year.