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How (Not) To Do Tinder

While Tinder hasn't really picked up in Egypt, Timmy Mowafi thought he'd try his luck with the popular casual dating app in Dubai...

Tinder: for those tender hearts out their looking for a one night stand. A dating app that shows who is around you and lets you anonymously like or dislike their pictures. If someone also likes you back you can then chat together and, I assume, set up some sort of sexy date.

You would be excused if you haven’t heard of Tinder around these parts before; if you sign up to the dating app in Egypt you will usually be served up a conveyer belt of married couples, baby pictures and Quran quotes. This is not typical Tinder material, this is neesh material.

So when I was recently in Dubai, I was excited to try Tinder out in a more cosmopolitan city, one that builds its buildings tall with moats around them, and lacks any sort of pedestrian areas that aren't malls, keeping human contact to a minimum, repressing sexual urges and replacing it with consumerism. There must be droves of well-dressed, sexually frustrated women on Tinder in Dubai…

Surprisingly, I seemed to be right but there was but one problem: no one was liking me back. After what started out as harmless inside joke to be an ironic online dater, here I was frantically updating my profile to include a variety of images of myself in the best light possible from bungee jumping in a cat suit to show my adventurous side (I screamed like a pussy and have developed vertigo since) to a picture of me popping champagne in a club to show I have money and like to have fun (I have none and I prefer PlayStation to parties). The change in online persona seemed to pay off as finally I get a little notification on my phone. I have found a match. A very cute Eastern European woman.

Now, I'm really not sure what Tinder protocol is. Essentially this is an app for hook ups so how exactly do you begin a conversation? Purveying an immediate need for fornication seems frankly quite vulgar and perverted, but should it be? The world is so embarrassed by sex these days that we need to hide anonymously behind a mobile app to blanket our cardinal needs as humans.

I go with a “Hello” in the end.

"Hi," she replies. "All good?"

Well, clearly all’s not that good if I'm on Tinder; I'm obviously rather lonely.  Small talk on Tinder feels absurd, like going to a brothel for their great selection of sodas. I attempt to heat things up a bit.

"Err, what are you doing today?"

 No reply. Clearly, my Tinder game is weak.

Two days later, I'm with my brother and a friend at a massive urban culture fair in Dubai set up so that insanely handsome men with buns and beards and stunning women in oversized sports jerseys can feel like they live in Tumblr and make you feel aesthetically inadequate.

At some point, we stumble into a tent where obscure Somalian-Dutch denim designer Olaf Hussein is about to do a live Q & A on stage in front of a typically Bauhaus chic look-book, projected behind him.

We settle into the front row and something catches my peripherals in the seat next to me, a cute brunette in Navajo hot shorts and sports jersey. No... it can't be, nooo! But... It's the girl from Tinder! I mean what are the chances that the first person I 'meet' on Tinder is sat next to me at the exact time I randomly decide to pop in to hear a Somalian Denim designer talk about Japanese ankle fads? It's literally a one in a million, but a little voice inside me tells me it's the same girl. Fuck it, I think, turn to my right and shout out: "Do I know you from Tinder?!"

Now, as I am saying this, I realise – too late – how this sounds out loud. Even if she was 100% the Tinder girl, that is no way to open up a conversation with any self-respecting human. The look on her face was one of pure shock and insult. "No, sorry, not me," she says dismissively.  My brother and friend turn equally gobsmacked that this sentence has just protruded from my mouth and begin to crack up. My Tinder game had not improved.

Nevertheless, I trudged on determined to salvage something from the situation, only to make matters worse. I whip my phone out and first show my brother, "Look it's her I'm telling you!" He still can't believe this is happening as the girl to my right becomes more red-faced. I then shove the phone in her face, yelling: "Look, look it's you!" She shushes me with her index finger as Olaf Hussein begins his talk.

My brother and friend spend the rest of the night mockingly asking women if they’ve met me on Tinder before. I try to forget about the awkwardness of the situation and indulge in this modish man-bun-beard festival. I even join in on a break-dance circle or two.

After a heavy night I wake up the next morning to find a notification on my phone. It's Tinder girl messaging back...

"You're a great dancer! ;)"

Aha, I knew it! It was Tinder girl. But why? Why would someone who has actively gone out to meet you online for the chance of meeting you offline, ignore you when they see you in real life? I had to ask...

"Well, I was embarrassed," says Tinder girl, "Because I met Olaf Hussein on Tinder."


Illustration by Moe Asem