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“The spaces available for upper and middle class Egyptians in relationships are very different than for low income young people,” who are the majority in Egypt, she told Vocativ.Prolonged engagements can serve as a dating-like get-to-know-you period as it provides legitimacy to the relationship (and can be called off), Ghannam said.Open up Tinder or Ok Cupid in Cairo, and you’ll still only find a specific subset of the population: upper- and middle-class Egyptians who are not super religious and usually with varying knowledge of English.All Egyptian women interviewed using these sites had either lived or traveled abroad and in Cairo met up with both Egyptian and foreign (often Western) men.In 2014 Egypt’s top Islamic authority issued a religious ruling prohibiting the use of online dating.Grindr, a dating app for gay men, has warned users in Egypt that police may be posing as users to entrap them and arrest them using laws against debauchery, prostitution, and pornography.“It’s everything I hate about [Egyptian] society condensed in an app.” She asked Vocativ not to use her name because she “manage[s] a lot of young boys at work.” Still, after first trying out Tinder in Canada, she’s continued to use it in Cairo on-again off-again to expand her dating circle, with some successful romances along the way. “But in Egypt it’s used for many things.” Traditionally in Egypt sexual relations outside of marriage are taboo — in fact, any dating that happens is generally short and geared towards getting engaged.

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Nehal was veiled when she started online dating, though no longer is, and has a curfew, as many unmarried Egyptian women living with family do (unlike males).“I am not pro this [dating apps and websites] if it’s not about serious commitment to marriage,” the well-known Egyptian sexologist and TV show host Heba Kotb, who is popular for her conservative, though sometimes controversial, opinions on sex and religion, told Vocativ.Kotb, who is also a Professor of Psychology at American University of Cairo, is rare in Egypt for her TV show that openly answers viewers questions on sex, including her views that homosexuality and masturbation are wrong.They would then go to dates at a popular hotel bar near their apartment.“Some guy were nice and I’m still friends with,” she said.They also reported being flooded with matches and responses.

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