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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Islamic matchmaking sites thrive in UAE

The defining cultural and religious difference between Islamic matchmaking sites and popular western dating sites such as Match.com or eHarmony that are blocked is that they advocate matchmaking with an acceptable end in sight: marriage.
The site Zawaj. Courtesy Zawaj
The site Zawaj. Courtesy Zawaj

Dozens of Islamic matchmaking sites are widely accessible here, including Qiran.com, ­SingleMuslim.com, Shaadi.com, MuslimMingle.com and ­Zawaj.com.

The defining cultural and religious difference between these sites and popular western dating sites such as Match.com or eHarmony that are blocked is that they advocate matchmaking with an acceptable end in sight: marriage.

Set up in 1998 by the American-Egyptian Wael Abdelgawad, Zawaj means “marriage” in ­Arabic.

“Islam teaches that marriage is half of your religion,” says Ahmed, a 37-year-old member of SingleMuslim.com, referencing a hadith by the Prophet Mohammed. “It’s a cornerstone of our faith, so there’s nothing wrong in pursuing it, even in a way that is modern and more fitted to the 21st century.” Ahmed, who lives in Alabama and has family in Dubai, has been a member of the site for 13 months and has already “met” a few contenders.

“It’s not discouraging; having a religion in common with someone doesn’t actually guarantee you have anything else in common, so you still have to put in the effort to meet someone, but at least by using an Islamic site, I’m attempting to meet the ‘right’ kind of someone for me,” he says.

“I don’t really meet Muslim people in everyday life; I don’t go to Muslim events and my social circle isn’t particularly Muslim. For people such as me, these types of sites are a solution far better than Tinder, which I think has everything but marriage in mind.”

As for singles eager to meet other singles in the hopes of landing a date, there are certainly a number of niche sites available, including Arabdating.com, Arabelove.com, Arabicdating.com and Lovehabibi.com to Arablounge.com and Arabmatchmaking.com.

However just like the western sites, they are blocked in the UAE.

* Hala Khalaf