Finding love can be hard for Pakistani singles in the UAE
For the fashion designer Homa Qamar, a hectic work life and few opportunities to socialise with fellow Pakistanis make it difficult to meet Mr Right.
The unmarried 29-year-old, who was born and raised in Dubai, believes many men also feel intimidated by her success.
"I think when you are successful, it does become very difficult to meet the right person," she says. "There is a pressure from my family to get married and I always felt 30 would be the best time but it's so difficult to meet the right people."
Although there is a large Pakistani population in the UAE, it is not a particularly unified community, she says.
"In the UAE everyone tends to focus on themselves and their careers so that makes [meeting other Pakistanis] difficult."
Qamar, who has three adult sisters and a brother, none of whom is married, said she would prefer to have an arranged marriage.
"Being a little older now, I think I'm more certain of what I want in a partner than I would have been if I was younger. I guess looking in Pakistan is an option but I've been brought up in Dubai, which is completely different to back home," she adds.
Qamar's views are echoed by a growing number of young Pakistanis living in the UAE. "I think that when you hit your mid-20s there is an expectation from your family and friends that you should settle down," says Mobisher Rabbani, a 29-year-old Pakistani diplomatic consultant who lives in Sharjah.
Although the UAE has a large Pakistani expat community, there are not enough events or social gatherings that allow for the chance to meet potential partners, he says.
To help cater for Pakistanis searching for a marriage partner, www.pakistanimatrimony.com, a popular website in the US and UK, recently opened an office in the UAE.
"We have had a great response since we launched here a few months ago," says Tehmina Faraz, the website's business development manager. She claims the company receives dozens of calls a day from people wanting to know more.
Visitors to the website register for free, which allows them to set up a profile, add photos and provide details about themselves. However, to contact other people, you are required to pay for a subscription.
"We tend to find that in many cases the parents or siblings of the person who wants to get married create the accounts and they are the ones that check for partners for their family," she says.
The advantage for people who sign up is that they have a much wider pool of candidates from around the world, including the US and Europe, she says.
Sara Hussein, 27, of Dubai is one of those who has benefited from the website. She signed her brother up to a Dh250 three-month membership and was impressed by the number of people already online. "There are thousands of people on the website and they are from all over the world," she says.
"I check the website on a daily basis. It's something the younger generation is more comfortable using compared to our parents but I think they are becoming more open to the idea," she says.
The lack of social events for young Pakistanis to meet in the UAE is something the Pakistan Association of Dubai says it's addressing.
"It is true that we don't really have much in the way of these kinds of social gatherings," says Rizwan Fancy, the organisation's community welfare secretary.
"This was one of the reasons we decided to have people from the website at our National Day celebrations. If there is a way we can work with them and the community to help improve the situation, then we will look into that."
Updated: May 16, 2012 04:00 AM