In September last year, after scanning dozens of profiles, All Rasik Panchal met his perfect match.
Don't rule out online, say marriage success stories
DUBAI // All Rasik Panchal wanted was a partner from his home town in Gujarat, India. But working thousands of kilometres away in Dubai made that a challenge.
So Mr Panchal, 33, decided to try the matrimonial website Shaadi.
"Since I was living out of India, I felt out of reach from my community," he said. "Whenever I travelled back home my family would also help me. But I couldn't do that frequently."
After verifying his identity with the site, he stipulated what he was looking for in a wife. She had to be Gujarati and vegetarian.
"Most people back home are vegetarians anyway, but in today's world you can never really know for sure," Mr Panchal said. "I wanted to make sure we lived a similar lifestyle."
In September last year, after scanning dozens of profiles, he met his perfect match, Mitali. In the hope of settling down, he took a flight to India.
"We decided we would meet first and if everything goes well, we would tell our parents," said Mr Panchal, an engineer with LG. "Being away from the pressure of your parents allows you to talk to each other freely and truly get to know each other."
Mitali had a similar story. Although she still lived at home in Gujarat she felt she had exhausted all the traditional options there and decided to sign up on the website.
"I figured even if I wasn't active on the site others would still approach me," she said. "I wanted to feel that I tried every option available."
Nearly 25 suitors had approached her online before she finally met Mr Panchal. When the couple met in person it was love at first sight. Two days later, they met each other's parents. At first, Mitali's parents were unconvinced. But it was not that she had met Mr Panchal online that bothered them; it was that he was from the UAE.
"The community back home has these negative perceptions about men who work in the Gulf," he said. "They assume they are not very educated and they don't have a good job.
"They would prefer someone coming from the US or the UK. But she asked them to just give me a chance and then see what happens.
"I had to work hard to convince them about Dubai and life there. I felt like a travel consultant, but it was worth it."
A month later the couple were engaged, tying the knot in May this year. Now their first child is on the way.
Both say others in their position should not rule out the online option.
"What you do after you meet someone is up to you," Mr Panchal said. "At the end of the day, there's nothing to lose.
"If things don't work out, you would have gained a friend."