Yes, it is a little odd being arrested for just walking next to someone of the opposite sex.
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Dating in Saudi Arabia is really no different in this respect, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. You should make continuous eye contact, but be wary of mall security at the same time.
First of all, you are not legally allowed to just walk up and talk to a girl. Follow the group or, if they are following you, make sure you occasionally make eye contact to signal interest, and then go somewhere discrete, like a unisex store. Saudi girls may initially be shy, but many won’t hesitate making the first move (kind of a paradox there) and hand you their phone number.
If you do encounter one that is older than 30, be careful. I also recommend you sign up for the dating site Muslima–it is a very easy way to meet a partner.
An expat living in Saudi Arabia should immediately register with their embassy and ask for a list of events.
The punishment for sex outside of marriage is a hefty number of lashes.