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Dating in Dubai – From a guy’s perspective

by Sanne
JBR Beach, Dubai

People from all over the world come to Dubai to live and work, and many of the city’s expats are young, single and ready to mingle. Though in spite of that, finding true love in Dubai can be difficult, not to mention very expensive, especially if you are a guy. I have asked my male friend from Denmark, to tell me about dating in Dubai from a guy’s perspective.

Dubai’s dating scene – Ain’t no love in the heart of the city

In Dubai, 75% of the population are men and this inequality in the gender distribution affects the dating scene down here. Many people also come from countries with very traditional gender roles, so the guy is expected to make the first move. Combined with Dubai’s big surplus of men means that you in general have to work a lot harder to get a date if you are a guy.

One of the things that makes Dubai unique is that you have the opportunity to date people from all over the world. Though in spite of that, a lot of people prefer to date people from the same background and culture as themselves. I have met many Danes, who only hang out with other Danes that they meet in Facebook groups for Danes only. I think most nationalities down here have their own closed Facebook groups that they use to find new friends or dates from their home country.   

If you have a more open approach to meeting people and don’t mind dating outside your own tribe, you quickly realize that there is a dating hierarchy in Dubai. As a guy from Scandinavia, it is relatively easy to find a date, since many women regard us as being rather advanced when it comes to gender equality, education and manners. Furthermore, people from Western Europe also typically have good jobs with high salaries, plus there aren’t so many of us.

On Tinder some girls write upfront which nationalities they want to date and which they won’t. I have seen many girls write “No Indians or Pakistanis” in their profile description. In Dubai, it is very common that people with lower salaries live in small apartments with 6-7 roommates, so some girls also write that you should not contact them, unless you have your own place.

The cost of finding true love – It’s all about the money

For guys, dating is expensive in Dubai, no matter where you are from. Many girls in Dubai come from countries where the guy is expected to pay for everything, and if you don’t, you will be seen as stingy. Furthermore, Dubai is a very materialistic city, and after some time in the desert sun most of us are affected by the glitzy way of life down here.

In Dubai, it is totally normal even outside the dating world to ask strangers what kind of job they have, which area they live in, and what kind of car they are driving; all with the purpose of gauging what the net worth of the person might be. A friend told me about a girl who wrote on Tinder that “if you fly economy class, don’t bother writing”.

If you are going out on a date in Denmark, it would be completely fine to take the bicycle and meet your date at the restaurant, but down here, the girl expects you to come and pick her up (in a nice car) or send her an Uber. While it is ok to meet for coffee or cocktails on the first date, you will have to take her for dinner with wine and a nice restaurant if you want to make an impression and show that you are serious about it.

I typically spend around 700-1000AED on a dinner date, but it can also be a lot more expensive. I was once out with this girl who picked a bottle of wine for 800AED and some really pricey food. “Well I guess it’s canned tuna for me for the rest of the month” I thought.  

Where to go out to meet girls in Dubai? – In da club

It is not very often I go out to meet girls, because nightclubs in Dubai are very expensive for guys. On fancy clubs such as Cavalli Club you mainly see western girls and Lebanese guys, while I have heard that there are clubs in old Dubai where all the Indians go, as well as karaoke clubs where the Filipinos go out.

If I were to recommend a place to go to meet girls in Dubai, it would be Sho Cho at Dubai Marine Beach & Resort. They have cabin crew nights with free drinks for the cabin crew from Fly Dubai and Emirates. The cabin crew I have dated have all been really nice and smart girls of the kind you want to meet but are otherwise hard to find in Dubai.

My worst date in Dubai – On to the next one

I had been chatting with this girl on Tinder, and we had arranged to meet in Festival City and find a place to eat. On Tinder, a lot of people photoshop their pictures, but her case was extreme! When I arrived at the place we had agreed to meet, I could not see anyone that looked like her, so I had to call her phone to find her. Turned out she was right beside me, but she looked so different from her profile photo that I did not recognize her.

“How the f… do I get out of this” I thought. Even though you do not look like a model, you can be a nice and kind person, but if you feel a need to overdo the photoshopping to such an extreme extent, I think it speaks volumes of how you are as a person.

We went for a little walk and then I made up a story about an emergency call from my job and how sorry I was to have to cancel the dinner plans, and then I left after getting her an Uber. I think the entire thing about trying to be something that you are not is very typical for Dubai, and not just regarding dating. In Denmark people are brought up to be very modest with their achievements and not brag, but down here it is completely opposite, and everything from resumes to looks have to be artificially inflated, and it is easy to get the idea that just being yourself is not good enough. That is really sad.  

The best place to take a date in Dubai – On a night like this

Jetty Lounge at One&Only Royal Mirage is one of my favorite places to bring a date in Dubai. It is a nice and calm lounge bar at the beach, but still in the city. You have a view of the Palm and of the skyscrapers in the Marina, and they are playing lounge music in the background, but it is not too loud, and the entire atmosphere is of the kind that makes you want to talk and get to know each other.