Dating in Egypt

Social life and dating culture in Egypt are influenced by thousands of years of tradition. Starting in the ancient Egyptian times, to nomadic Bedouins, Nubians, Arabs, British colonial rule and most recently globalization, Egypt has seen many influences over the centuries. Like its North African cousins, Morocco and Tunisia, Egypt is a complex it is impossible to characterize all Egyptian people under a unified dating culture.

Cairo, Egypt’s largest city

Individual dating experiences may vary greatly depending on factors such as age, education, urban vs rural location, religion, and personal beliefs. However, we will attempt to share some specific aspects about dating in Egypt, which we feel are shared experiences by most Egyptians, particularly those living in big cities like Cairo or Alexandria.

The dating culture Egypt is shaped by a complex interplay of its traditional customs, norms, and even other modern influences. Whether it is the formal courtship rituals of traditional societies or the casual dating practices of urban youth, each reflects the unique cultural context in which it occurs, offering a fascinating insight into the diversity and complexity of African social life.

Interesting facts about dating in Egypt

  1. Traditional Meeting: In traditional Egyptian society, potential partners often meet through family connections. It is quite common for a family member or friend to introduce the two individuals, facilitating a more secure and trustworthy environment for the potential relationship.
  2. Engagement as a Formal Commitment: In Egypt, engagement isn’t just a simple promise of marriage as in many Western cultures. Instead, it is seen as a formal commitment. The engagement period often involves preparing for the wedding, setting up a home together, and, in some cases, the couple might even live together.
  3. “Ta’abbal” Ritual: There’s a unique ritual in Egypt called “ta’abbal,” where the groom-to-be gifts his fiancee gold jewelry upon the announcement of their engagement. This is a tradition dating back to ancient times, symbolizing the man’s capability to provide for his family.
  4. Long Engagement Periods: Unlike many Western cultures where engagements can last a few months to a couple of years, in Egypt, the engagement period can extend up to several years. This is often because the couple and their families need time to save up for the lavish wedding celebrations that are a hallmark of Egyptian culture.
  5. Group Dating: In more conservative areas, dating often happens in groups. For younger individuals, it’s not uncommon to go out in groups to maintain a sense of decorum and respect for societal norms.
  6. Orabi Marriage: There’s a tradition known as “Orabi Marriage” (Marriage of the countryside), where the groom’s family visits the bride’s family to ask for her hand in marriage. If the bride’s family agrees, the families then discuss the dowry, a gift of money or possessions paid by the groom or his family to the bride’s parents upon marriage.
  7. Significance of Henna: Henna has a significant place in Egyptian weddings. It’s used in the Henna Night, a traditional part of the wedding ceremony. The bride, her female friends, and family members will have intricate henna patterns drawn on their hands and feet. It is believed to bring good luck and fertility.
  8. Zaffa – The Grand Entrance: The “Zaffa,” or the wedding march, is a musical procession and one of the most distinctive parts of the Egyptian weddings. This grand entrance of the bride and groom is accompanied by traditional music, singing, and sometimes belly dancers.
  9. Public Displays of Affection: Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon, especially in more conservative and rural areas. Respect for local customs and norms is crucial in a society that values modesty and discretion.
  10. Online Dating: Despite the traditional norms, online dating has gained acceptance in Egypt, especially in urban areas. As modern Egyptians predominately follow Islam, Muslim dating apps are more widely accepted than western style dating ones. Even, Hawaya, was originally founded in Egypt.

Most Romantic Day in Egypt

Egypt, being a predominantly Muslim country, does not officially celebrate Valentine’s Day, which is often considered the most romantic holiday in many parts of the world. However, Valentine’s Day is recognized and celebrated by some, especially in larger cities and among younger generations.

Instead, the most romantic holiday in Egypt could be considered “Eid al-Adha,” one of the two major Islamic holidays. While it’s not exclusively a romantic holiday, it is a time of celebration, gift-giving, and showing love and appreciation to family and loved ones. During this time, married couples exchange gifts and spend quality time together, often making it a romantic period for them.

Another day gaining popularity as a day of love in Egypt, and across the Arab world, is “Habib’s Day” or “Day of the Beloved,” which falls on the 4th of November. This is can be seen as an alternative to Valentine’s Day, reflecting more regional and cultural values. It’s still a relatively new concept as of 2021, but it’s growing in popularity, particularly among younger generations.

Typical First Date in Egypt

There is no way to accurately define a first date in Egypt. There are many factors which will impact what two people decide to do on a first date. The socioeconomic dynamic of the couple, where they might be located and even religious beliefs will all have some impact on the first date.

Despite all of these influencing factors, there are some common aspects that first dates around the world typically share. On your first date in Egypt, the focus should be on getting to know each other in an informal setting where you can chat openly. It does not matter if you are talking over a cup of coffee, walking out in nature or a park or another original idea, the goal should be to check the vibe, see if there is a connection or potential for continuing the relationship. Here are a few ideas for first dates in Egypt:

  • Shopping in market: In Cairo, Alexandria and other cities, shopping malls, commercial centers or medina markets can be great date spots. They are relatively safe, public and there is enough external stimulation to keep a good conversation going.
  • Coffee or drinks: Many first dates in Egypt take place in a casual setting, such as a coffee shop or bar. Egypt has a nice cafe scene, especially near market areas. They are also great for people watching!
  • Outdoor activities: In some parts of Egypt, there are many options for outdoor activities such as hiking/walking, picnic, biking or even a combination of activities while visiting a local park. Depending on the activity level of you and your date, these may be nice options for you.

Dating etiquette

Like social cues and other aspects of dating, dating etiquette or expectations of behavior when on a date can vary somewhat from individual to individual. That being said, if you are on a date in Egypt, below are some general tips to keep in mind:

  • Punctuality: Even though many parts of Africa are known for ‘Africa time‘, being on time for a date is generally seen as a sign of respect in most cultures. However, attitudes towards punctuality will vary, with some cultures placing a high importance on it, while others might have a more relaxed attitude. Don’t be surprised if your date arrives 3 hours late!
  • Dress and appearance: Dressing appropriately for the occasion and taking care of personal hygiene are often seen as signs of respect towards the other person. In Egypt, men are expected to dress in a neat and stylish manner, while women might be expected to wear more fashionable or elegant outfits. This will vary based off of socioeconomic factors.
  • Physical contact: Egypt is a conservative country. Generally, physical contact, at least in a sexual way, is not acceptable. This is especially true in public where stigmas are present.
  • Public displays of affection: Public displays of affection can be more common in some Latin American cultures than in others. Pay attention to the body language of your date and cues to determine what is appropriate.
  • Paying the bill: In many cultures, the person who initiated the date is expected to pay the bill, although this is not a universal rule. Offering to split the bill can be a polite gesture, although in some cultures it might be expected for the man to pay.
  • End of the date: How the date ends can also convey a lot. Walking the other person to their car or home, or arranging for their safe return, is often seen as a sign of care and respect. If both parties enjoyed the date, it is common to express interest in meeting again.

The Importance of language

Africa is an immensely diverse continent. There are thousands of languages spoken throughout and many different cultural practices. Egypt is one of fifty-four countries in Africa, each generally having their own using culture and language norms.

Even though Egypt was colonized by the United Kingdom, English is not widely spoken outside of tourist areas or city centers. Arabic is the primary language in addition to some other local languages such as Nubian (Nobiin and Kenuzi dialects), Siwa, Beja and Saidi Arabic. Though it is not possible to learn all languages, especially as a foreigner or tourist, we do always recommend studying local culture and learning language, even if just a few phrases. As you know, language is an incredibly important form of communication and knowing some Arabic will greatly enhance your experience.

While some Egyptians may also speak English or other languages, being able to communicate in any other local language can help to build stronger relationships with locals, facilitate communication in a variety of contexts and gain respect or trust with new people. It is a win-win situation for you and the culture.

Is Egypt gay friendly?

Unfortunately, as a whole, Africa has a very poor record for LGBTQ+ rights and protections. Further, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, the majority of people in many sub-Saharan African nations held negative views towards homosexuality.3 Because of this, gayness is heavily stigmatized in certain Egyptian communities and areas around Egypt. These stigmas are influenced by a myriad of religious, political and historical cultural beliefs.

With the exception of South Africa, where there are constitutionally enshrined protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. South Africa was the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in their constitution, and it remains the only African country to have legalized same-sex marriage. Unlike Cairo, Alexandria cities like Cape Town are known to have vibrant gay communities and events, which is a rare occurrence in Africa.

As of today, homosexuality remains criminalized in nearly every African country, including Egypt. While a few have made strides towards acceptance and equality, sadly there is a long way to go before LGBTQ individuals are freed from oppression in places like Egypt. Until that time, it remains dangerous to be openly gay in most of Africa.

If you plan on using one of the gay dating apps in Egypt, please be EXTREMELY careful. Check the latest regulations from a reputable international organization like the ILGA and use apps like Grindr and Tinder, which help you to remain safe.

Social cues

In Africa, social cues can be somewhat subjective to the individual, as is the case with Egyptians. Each country, like Egypt, has multiple cultures inside of it. It is important to understand who you are dating. More conservative people will be reserved and may be focused purely on serious relationships, while more liberally minded people will be more open to different connections. It is important to be respectful to your date and understand their expectations.

When it comes to dating in Egypt, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Non-verbal cues: As is common in many cultures, body language plays an important role in expressing interest or disinterest during a date. Maintaining eye contact, smiling, and leaning towards the other person can all indicate interest. On the other hand, crossing arms, avoiding eye contact, or frequently checking a phone can signal disinterest.
  • Verbal cues: Listening attentively, asking follow-up questions, and responding positively to stories or jokes can signal interest. In contrast, frequently interrupting, dominating the conversation, or responding negatively can signal a lack of interest or respect.

Gender roles

Much like the rest of the world, traditional gender roles in Egypt are not substantially different. Though it is difficult to generalize such a vastly diverse region, Africa, as a whole, tends to be somewhat conservative. Because of this, traditional gender roles tend to dominate dating practices in Egypt. Egyptian men are often expected to take the initiative in asking women out, planning the date, and paying for the expenses. Egyptian women, on the other hand, are often expected to be more reserved and nurturing. To a degree, religion will often play a part of this as well.

As globalization and urbanization march forward, norms around dating and gender roles are changing, especially among younger generations and in urban areas. More egalitarian dating practices are becoming more common, with some Egyptian women also taking the initiative and couples splitting the bill. Further, where applicable, LGBTQ couples will have different norms.

Best way to meet singles in Egypt

The best place to meet singles in Egypt depends a lot on where you might be. If you are in a rural area, then your options may be limited. However, if you find yourself in a large urban center like Cairo or Alexandria, then you may have more options. Do some research on popular activities or events happening in your area and see what you find.

We believe that you can increase your chances of meeting Egyptian singles by trying out some of these methods:

  • Social events: Attending social events like festivals or cultural events even parties are great ways to meet new people and potentially find a romantic partner. Though many of these are not specifically focused on dating, they may present opportunities to strike up a conversation with someone new.
  • Through friends: If you live in a place and have a friend network, it may be easy to meet potential partners through friends or mutual acquaintances. Ask your friends to introduce you to someone they think you may hit it off with, or attend social events with them to meet new people. It is important to use this sparingly though in case a new relationship does not work out.
  • Joining groups or clubs: Joining a new club or group centered around a common interest such as a profession, skill, sport or even language exchange, can all be great ways to meet new people. By joining an organization based on mutual interests, conversations will be easy and it is easier to relax.
  • Islamic Center: If you are a Muslim, then perhaps check the local Islamic Center for upcoming events. They can be a great way to meet new people in a casual and friendly setting. You also know that you have a common interest!
  • Go shopping: In cities like Cairo, Alexandria, shopping centers, malls and markets are great places to meet new Egyptian singles. Markets and malls are often central to daily life and people visit them frequently either out of necessity or to pass time.
  • Volunteering: There should be plenty of volunteer opportunities in Egypt. Volunteering for a local organization or charity is not only a great way to give back to the greater human society, but it can also be a great way to meet new people who share similar values, passions and worldviews.
  • Online dating: If all else fails, there is always online dating. As you will read in the section below, the online dating scene is evolving in Egypt. Though the amount of Egyptian singles on these platforms is still relatively small, the apps and sites can still be ways of meeting someone new who shares values and interests with you.

Is it safe to date people in Egypt?

As a continent, Africa has a bad image for safety and security. It is not that all of Africa is unsafe, it is more that it is not consistent. Many parts of Africa are safe and open for dating, whereas other parts are very complicated for a number of reasons.

It does not matter if you are Egyptian, African or a foreign tourist, if you plan to date in Egypt, it can be an interesting experience for you. However, you should take certain safety precautions to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time meeting new people.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind when dating in Egypt:

  • Be Aware of Local Laws and Customs: Learning about the local culture, like you are doing now, can help you navigate dating in Egypt and avoid cultural misunderstandings or faux pas. Further, if Egypt is a new place for you, take some time to review local laws and customs, particularly related to dating and public behavior. This is especially important for LGBTQ+ individuals, as laws and societal acceptance vary greatly. If you are going to use gay dating apps, we recommend that you consider using well known international apps. Some dating apps, such as Grindr or Tinder, have implemented security features into their apps that let you know if you are traveling in a country where gay relationships are illegal.
  • Choose a reputable dating platform: Use a reliable dating app or website that requires identity verification. This can help weed out fake profiles and scammers.
  • Use the messaging service on the dating app: It is safer to use the messaging service provided by the dating app until you are comfortable sharing your contact details.
  • Keep Personal Information Private: Do not share sensitive information like your home address, financial details, or other private information with someone you have just met online.
  • Research Your Date: Do a quick online search of the profile information of your date to verify their identity. Be wary of profiles with limited friends, photos, and interactions as these could be signs of a fake profile.
  • Tell Someone About Your Plans: Always tell a friend or family member where you are going, who you are meeting, and when you expect to return.
  • Meet in public: On your first few dates, meet in a public place like a café or a park where there are plenty of people around. In a places like Cairo, Alexandria, it should be somewhat easy to find a public space.
  • Stay Sober: If alcohol is served on your first date, pay attention and limit your intake to ensure that you are fully aware of your surroundings. As alcohol can impair your judgment, it is safer to drink less when you first get to know someone.
  • Trust your gut: If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts and do not feel obliged to stay in a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Remove yourself from a bad situation when it feels right to do so.
  • Safe Sex: If you decide to become intimate with your date, remember to practice safe sex. This includes using protection and getting regular check-ups for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Remember, safety first. It is important to take precautions and use common sense when dating in Egypt, whether online or offline.

Dating scams in Egypt

Dating scams can and do unfortunately happen across the globe. Africa is no stranger to scams or deceptive practices. Particularly in the digital world, wherever there are lonely or naive people, a nefarious person can take advantage of their kindness or emotions.

While we do not know of any dating scams unique to Egypt, we do believe you should keep in mind these online dating scams which are common in other African countries and the rest of the world. While we do not believe paranoia helps, it is always a good idea to be careful and approach online dating in Egypt with caution. Until you build trust with someone, you should not provide too many personal details. Whether you are Egyptian or a foreigner looking to date in Egypt, please keep these common dating scams in mind when using apps and sites to meet new people:

  • Identity theft: Scammers may use dating apps or websites to steal personal information from their targets, such as credit card numbers or other personal details.
  • Romance Scams: In this scam, criminals create fake profiles on dating websites or apps. They build an online relationship with their victims and then ask for money for various reasons – a sick relative, a plane ticket to visit, or some other fabricated story. Once they receive the money, they disappear.2
  • Advanced Fee Fraud: This is one of the most common types of fraud in West Africa, in countries like Nigeria and Ghana, but could also happen in Egypt. The scammer forms a relationship with the victim and then asks for money to help them access a large amount of money or gold they have supposedly inherited but cannot access due to bureaucratic red tape.
  • Catfishing: This involves a scammer creating a fake profile with stolen photos and false information. The scammer entices the victim into a relationship with the goal of obtaining personal information or exploiting them emotionally.
  • Military Scams: In these scams, fraudsters pose as military personnel who are serving overseas or outside of Egypt. They form a relationship with the victim and then ask for money, often claiming that it is for a leave application, medical expenses, or other fabricated reasons.
  • Gift Scams: Scammers, after forming a relationship, might ask for expensive gifts or money to buy such gifts. Once the gifts or money are received, they break off contact.
  • Kidnapping Scams: These are extreme and less common, but there have been reports of scammers luring victims to a location under the pretense of a date and then kidnapping them for ransom.
  • Other money scams: Scammers may create fake profiles on dating apps or websites and then ask their targets for money for any number of other reasons than previously mentioned. If money is involved, it is likely a dating scam. Use good judgement.

Online dating in Egypt

The advent of the digital age has revolutionized many aspects of modern Egyptian life, including the way people meet and form romantic relationships. Though online dating in the greater African continent is not a significantly developed industry, growth, at least on a relative percentage level, has been significant in recent years. The online dating industry, albeit relatively small in Egypt, is blossoming and we may be on the cusp of a developing industry for the region.

Like many other countries in Africa, online dating in Egypt was slow to take off initially. This is likely due to a few aspects:

One is that historically, Egypt has had a low internet penetration and limited access to smartphones. However, over the last decade with the widespread adoption of mobile technology, increased internet accessibility, and reduction in costs, Egyptians people are increasingly digitized.

Second, accessibility, particularly through localization. Product adoption and education is typically very low when people do not understand the user interface (UI) language of your product. Historically, most dating apps have not localized for any African languages, let alone languages native to the region around present-day Egypt, such as Nubian. There are some applications localized into Arabic, but it is not common with every dating app due to the internationalization challenges with right-to-left languages.

European and Asiana languages are more common products accessible for those who speak them. For this reason some international dating apps, like Badoo, Bumble, Tinder or gay dating apps localized into English, French or may be more popular in Egypt particularly among Anglophone or English speaking Egyptian singles.

Third, history and widespread scams, have led to distrust amongst online platforms, especially foreign ones on occasion. With time and companies demonstrating devotion to privacy and data security, it is likely that more single Egyptians will be open to online dating. However, with the dark colonial past by United Kingdom, there is definitely a legacy sentiment of skepticism among certain people. Rightfully so in some cases. Companies will need to work extra hard to overturn this and build trust with locals, or be locals themselves.

A fourth reason is mainly culture. More traditional societies and indigenous people like the Bedouin, are quite foreign to the concept of a dating app or website. This is due to the reliance on social circles and emphasis on maintaining culture through relationships within their community. These communities are unlikely to be users any time soon.

The fifth is that Islam is the reining religion of Egypt. In Islam, dating is not really common or permissible in traditional practice. Egyptian Matchmakers usually through family, would be the traditional ‘dating app in Egypt’. Further, there would definitely be stigmas or perceived risk associated with online dating.

A sixth reason is that dating can be seen as a luxury, even among people who have an open mind towards meeting new people. Though there are wealthy Egyptian, many singles in Egypt continue to struggle economically. With each passing generation, the economic situation seems to be improving, but many Egyptian have a long way to go before having a western style social life.

Despite these setbacks and reservations, we believe that the online dating industry has an interesting future in Egypt. As a whole, the African continent has more than 1.4 billion people; most interestingly, the median age of this population is 19.4.1 Compared to Europe, where the median age is over 40 and population is roughly half, that is a substantial growth story for Egypt and the rest of Africa. As more and more people join the digital world, we expect Egyptian singles to increasingly turn to online dating as a means for connection.

Presently, the online dating landscape in Africa is dynamic, diverse and slowly accelerating. International platforms have had a presence for years, but a notable trend in the online dating scene in Africa, is the rise of niche platforms catering to specific groups. For example, culture-specific dating like dating apps for Muslims or Christians or LGBTQ communities. Where indigenous or linguistic communities are large in number, we may even see dating apps that cater to Bedouin singles – though we don’t anticipate that being anytime soon.

With continued tech adoption and changing societal attitudes, the future of online dating in Africa looks promising. User growth in Egypt will inevitably contribute to that change, even if in relatively small ways. As a youthful and digitally-connected population continues to grow, so too does the potential market for online dating services. Additionally, the ongoing shift towards homegrown and niche dating platforms suggests a future where the industry is increasingly tailored to the diverse needs and preferences of local Egyptian daters.

Top dating apps in Egypt

Much like in the rest of the world, international recognized dating apps like Badoo or Tinder, are likely to have users in nearly every African country. These apps are likely to be popular with young Egyptian singles. If you plan to use a dating app in Egypt, we recommend reviewing the below apps in addition to any other apps you may be familiar with. Online dating is a lot about trying different platforms and sites and finding ones that works best for you and your interests. This will give you the best chances of success in meeting someone special.

Keep in mind, the dating sites and apps available and popular by country may depend on how well they are localized into Arabic for Egypt.

  • AfroIntroductions: As one of the largest African dating sites, AfroIntroductions has a presence in Egypt and gives Egyptian singles access to connections with other single daters around the continent and in the diaspora.
  • Tagged: Tagged is a social networking site that has grown to be a popular platform for dating in many African countries with a presence in Egypt.
  • Muslima: This niche dating site caters to the Muslim community. Though it has its largest and most significant user base in North Africa in countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, Muslims around Africa find value in the dating app.
  • Muzz: a popular dating app for Muslim people
  • DateMeKenya: Though specific to Kenya, DateMeKenya is an example of a country-specific dating site.
  • Liefie: Additionally, in South Africa, Liefie is particularly tailored towards Afrikaans-speaking singles.

1 Population by country

2 Romance dating scams in Africa are common:

3 Sub-Saharan views on homosexuality: