LONDON: Tired of swiping left and right for the past two years, single Muslims across the UK have tried their luck at speed dating, with renowned British Moroccan Muslim comedian Fatiha El-Ghorri breaking the ice.
SingleMuslim.com, one of the world’s largest Muslim dating apps, launched a series of marriage events throughout the month in London, Birmingham and Manchester, to help Muslims meet and find life partners.
“We’ve had two years worth of COVID-19 and I think people are lonely, wanting a change, and wanting to get serious about finding someone and getting married this year,” Adeem Younis, founder and CEO of the app, told Arab News at one of the events in London.
Organizers said that the events, which have been completely sold out, came due to a high demand from members on the site who were tired of only meeting people online, in addition to the UK government lifting almost all COVID-19 restrictions.
Each of the full-day events saw 50 men and 50 women speak face to face in rotation for three-minute rounds as part of the formal section of the event. The participants then got the opportunity to mingle and speak further with potential partners during the informal parts of the day, during the lunch break and at the end.
This event, however, is different from previous SingleMuslim.com events, not only because a comedian is present, but also as participants are allowed to bring a chaperone, or mahram, who can come along to support and observe from the sidelines.
“People are coming in really nervous and not knowing what the day is going to be like, or thinking, ‘I’m really single and it’s quite embarrassing sometimes,’ and all sorts of feelings and emotions are running through their mind. And Fatiha comes in and literally just gets rid of that, makes everybody laugh and it’s brilliant,” Younis said.
El-Ghorri had approached SingleMuslim.com with the idea of hosting the event because she believes that getting people to meet in person is far more efficient than meeting online.
“The apps are ok,” she said, but adding that they present some problems and can be a waste of time. For example, some users on the apps may not show up to dates, may be dishonest and in some cases, might be fraudsters.
El-Ghorri, who is a confident and strong Muslim hijabi woman, shared some funny anecdotes of her experiences with online dating and had everyone in stitches when she said that men ask if “that is really her in her photos,” to which she replied: “No, I followed a fat girl around for a while and took her photos and posted them.”
Nadia Touzani, a British Moroccan divorcee from London, came along with her friend Aisha Patel with the intent to find love and enjoy the nice day out.
Touzani, 47, who has been a member of SingleMuslim.com on and off for several years, has tried traditional speed dating before, sadly unsuccessfully, but thought it would be interesting to try a Muslim-centered version.
Describing herself as an extrovert who likes to meet people, the mother of three said that even if the encounters do not lead to future relationships, every person she meets teaches her something new, which she loves, adding that “everyone should give it a go.”
Patel, 47, who is British with Pakistani and Indian roots, found the event a bit too fast, but said: “I’ve never been to an event like this, so I decided to come and see how it’s going down, and it’s something very different.”
The divorced mother of three used to be a member of the app but said that she might renew her membership as a result of the event to get herself “back out there again.”
Salahuddin Sharif found himself on an international search for his soulmate, which began in a village in Central Asia, where his family is originally from. He moved to London four months ago from Russia, and has already entered the Muslim dating scene. A member of the app, he was encouraged to try the speed dating event by friends who had tried previous editions.
The 32-year-old said “it was kind of beautiful,” but also complained that it was too fast and some issues could have been resolved or tweaked, like reducing the volume in the room and creating compatibility markers.
Zafran Butt, 34, who is originally from Pakistan and has been living in the UK for 12 years, was trying halal speed dating for the first time and said that he thought it to be a great option, particularly as a big part of the UK dating scene occurs in pubs and nightclubs, which his faith prevents him from visiting.
He said that the event should be organized more frequently as it is more “genuine and productive” than online dating, adding that the concept should be introduced in Muslim countries as it is a good opportunity for people who are looking for love to meet in person.
It's a wrap from our first sold-out Halal Speed Dating Event!
Hosted by the hilarious @fatihaelghorri, our attendees had a great time.
— SingleMuslim.com (@SingleMuslimCom) February 16, 2022