Sina Stieding meets a German Muslim living in Cairo to talk the trials and tribulations of meeting the perfect match.
When Renate* left Germany three years ago, she had hope to find love in Egypt. She had converted to Islam a few years prior and her search for a husband in Germany had proven unsuccessful. In Egypt, she thought, a larger amount of Muslim men would allow her to meet more potential partners.
As a blonde girl with blue eyes she had to realise very much right away that 99.9% of men would be interested in dating her. In the streets she is welcomed with "Welcome to Egypt" and the occasional "WOOOOW!" every day. It was hard for Renate to decide who of these men were really interested in her and not the fact she was a very good-looking European lady that also happened to be a Muslim. This is when she stopped telling people about her faith.
After a few months she started online dating. She had tried Muslima.com in her native Germany before, only to be bothered by numerous old men sending her official proposals. These men, exceeding Renate in age by up to 30 years, had no desire to meet her but were willing to enter marriage with her right away. In Egypt, the interest in her was even bigger. As arguably one of the only blonde girls on the platform, invitations to meet fellow singles who want to get married came pouring in. Renate showed me her profile, and I found it hard to believe that there is still a single left on the network that didn't write to her.
The vast majority of men were visibly conservative in their messages, offering Renate to show them everything she needs to know about Islam. A moderate Muslim herself, looking for a husband to share her faith but possibly also her choice of lifestyle seemed impossible to find. As she met up with about a dozen of these candidates, she found they had lied about themselves or their appearance in almost every single case. The photos she had seen on their profiles did not match the men in front of her or, at the very least, the description of height and weight had been altered. In all cases, however, she found a man that was virtually undateable. She gave up on Muslima.com.
As the Tinder reputation suggested it was merely a hook up app, Renate decided to give Badou another chance which she had used in Germany as well. Her experiences with the app in Germany had been somewhat positive, offering an enjoyable date here or there. Within 24 hours of reactivating her account, Renate was called the "Most desired Single of the Month." The awards the network gives out to their single members came as a surprise to Renate, however, seeing the sheer volume of responses she got to a very basic profile with only two photos made me understand why she was also awarded the "honour" of "Favorite Single" and "Most Picky" within a few more hours. In less than 24 hours, Renate had received over 200 responses to her profile; to become the pickiest single on the network seems like a given.
When I asked Renate for some of her favourite stories, she shows me a message from a rather large, old man that tried to pick her up with the message: "I want to have Sex with you. Please tell me your price and where we can meet." Renate reported that man. By far the most common line she receives, however, is "An Angel has fallen from heaven," referring to her long, blonde hair. Funny moments occur when someone tries to use Google translate to pretend they speak German, or English for that matter, or offers Renate to spank her for free. My personal favourite is a guy that is sending her a message as we speak, saying "Hello Babyface, how are you?" Evidently, the men of the internet are going all out to pick up women.
Renate says the biggest difficulty with online dating is locating the men that are truly interested in love. The depiction of most men already speaks volumes about their intentions as most men showing interest in her uploaded pictures of their six packs, if they have one. Most people on the internet are looking for a hook up, and someone with blonde hair and blue eyes is someone most men in Egypt have not had the chance to encounter romantically. Still, the occasional man that is serious about a relationship shows up on dating sites which is why Renate has not given up on online matchmaking. All she needs now is to actually fall in love with one of them.
* The subject's name has been changed for privacy reasons.