Dating in the United Arab Emirates

Updated 2021-11-15 08:52

The expat population in the UAE makes up close to 90% -- and this means you will be living in a vibrant international community with lots of opportunities to make friends and more. With that, as modern, as some emirates may be, it is essential that you are aware of the local customs and traditions, even when it comes to dating.

Dating don'ts in the UAE

Emiratis don't usually date. The concept of dating is not considered appropriate in the Muslim culture ? thus, there is no local dating culture in the UAE. As an expat, you don't have to strictly follow local traditions. With that, it's important to be respectful of social norms and rules.

Stay very discreet when it comes to your dating life

Remember that dating and sex before marriage are illegal in the UAE

Avoid public displays of affection

Living in the same apartment or staying in the same hotel room is illegal unless you are married (this often goes unchecked ? but do keep in mind that the police may ask your partner to leave if this is discovered)

Avoid talking about romance, dating and your relationship with the Emiratis as these topics are not considered appropriate

Where to meet people in the UAE

If you are living in a big city like Dubai or Abu Dhabi, you will have access to restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels that are used to serving expats. This means that you will have no problem inviting your date over for cocktails -- even though alcohol is generally prohibited in Dubai. Note, however, that while you can enjoy your drink at the hotel or restaurant, drinking in public is strictly forbidden.

While there are offline dating options in the UAE, online dating remains very popular in the expat community. The online dating scene is constantly changing -- and a lot of dating apps are actually banned in the UAE. With that, Tinder does work on occasion -- note that you might need a VPN for this. It's best to ask your fellow expats about what apps or websites they are using as they will have the most up-to-date information.

When meeting someone online, do remember that dating and sex before marriage are illegal. This means that you have to be extra careful about where you arrange your meetings. Do your best to respect local rules so as not to get into trouble.

Expat forums, meetings and clubs can also be good locations for meeting new people in the UAE. Websites like Meetup are very popular in the UAE ? and you should have no problem finding expat groups from your home country.

Joining an interest club (sports, books, cooking, etc.) can also be a great way to expand your circle and, perhaps, even find love.

Same-sex dating also exists in the UAE -- but, as you can imagine, it can be very risky. You will have to exercise extra caution when planning your meetings and keep your relationship discreet. Same-sex dating apps like Grindr are banned in the UAE -- but can sometimes be accessible via a VPN.

Useful link:

Meetup UAE

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