Saturday July 18, 2020
By: Nermeen Tarek
Looking for a life partner in Middle Eastern societies is not easy, especially for women. The fast pace of life no longer leaves room for family gatherings either, which had previously allowed young people to make new acquaintances with the opposite sex. Hence, new apps, like Hawaya, have emerged lately to help young people find compatible partners online without violating the traditions of the Middle Eastern societies. These societies have just started accepting the idea of finding life partners online because a large number of couples have met on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.
In a phenomenon worth studying, it became quite noticeable that the number of Hawaya users has surged after the home quarantine period was imposed, following the outbreak of COVID-19. More young people have searched for partners amid the spread of the world-threatening pandemic. The number of messages exchanged between users increased by 40 percent. In addition, the time the users spent on the app increased by 20 to 25 percent despite the threat caused by the virus. Hawaya raised awareness of young people via its social media channels of the importance of staying home and communicating remotely through the app.
Since summer is a high season for marriage in Arab countries, Hawaya has become the best available matching tool due to the absence of family gatherings and social events. Social events were one of the common ways of matchmaking, in communities where mothers sometimes went to wedding parties specifically to cast around for wives for their sons among the bride’s friends.
Hawaya stood out from the crowd of its competitors and proved itself in the Middle East and South East Asia, where young people in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE, Malaysia and Indonesia, resolved to Hawaya since it was established by young Egyptian founders in 2017 in search of serious relationships and marriage. The application received the accolades of its users and gained their trust because of its privacy and security features such as the “Blurring photos” option that allows female users to initially display their profile pictures out of focus and they can reveal them when they feel comfortable with their match.
Also when signing up, Hawaya authenticates all new members using a “selfie verification” system that works with a highly developed technological infrastructure to prevent the creation of fake profiles. And the “Exclusive Chat Mode” which disables any other ongoing conversations for both users and allows them to have an undivided attention kind of environment. Moreover, Hawaya search engine uses artificial intelligence which enables it users to select a compatible partner by evaluating their preferences and choices, to match their dreams and needs.
Hawaya allows each user to specify the compatibility matching criteria of the desired partner; education, age, interests and hobbies, etc. Thus, using the app became easier than the common practice in Arab societies where mothers and sisters look for wives for their sons/brothers; as they are usually on the lookout for brides from their subjective points of view. The app finds for its users a compatible partner with matching personalities and needs based on the information they choose to provide on their personal profiles. Hawaya allows young people to decide whether to accept or reject a proposal without pressure from family members. Many marriages failed because couples married unwillingly due to family pressure.
Young people in Egypt and most Arab countries work for long hours every day, which leaves them no time to think about their personal lives. Thus, the lockdown has, to some extent, provided them with enough time to think about their lives and future marriage plans. Many of them either work or study abroad in societies where cultures differ from theirs. When Covid-19 began in March 2020, it obliged a large number of them to return to their home countries from Europe and the United States. Back home, they had abundant time on hand during quarantine and lockdown to look for a life partner online, as opposed to their prior one-month annual vacations, which they mostly spent meeting friends and visiting relatives before traveling back to where they work or study. Also, young women who worked for long hours at beauty salons, childcare centers, women garment factories and other workplaces with no contact with men, they have finally had the chance during the lockdown to look for a life partner on Hawaya.
One famous example of remote dating, which many young people learned about in school is the love story between the famous writer Mai Ziyada and renowned poet Khalil Gibran. Their relationship spanned for many years through exchanging letters while each lived in a different country. The fact that meetings ceased because of the lockdown is no longer an obstacle as feelings may start online and evolve until couples are able to meet when life returns back to normal.
To learn more about Hawaya, check their website and Facebook page; Download on App Store; Download on Google App