There are few people who have not heard of Tinder. What exactly the app is for though remains a mystery to me until today. Some people argue it is a hook up app, others have found long-term partners on Tinder, and I have also come across people (of both genders!) who simply use it to meet potential new friends when they are travelling. I even heard one story of a friend of a friend who uses Tinder to find another guy to take her for dinner every night, thus saving a substantial amount of money on food bills. Now that is one clever cookie, that gal! I have always been a bit skeptical of Tinder, but since so many of my local friends recommended it to me as THE place to meet locals, on my last visit to Kuwait I installed the app. Because yes, Tinder is booming in Kuwait as well!
In a country that traditionally does not really have a dating culture, Tinder is a new phenomenon to solve an ancient problem: where do you meet a potential partner? Here in Western Europe many people meet their partner at school or university, but that is hardly an option when education is largely segregated. Alternatively, you can go to a nightclub or a café to meet people, but that would not work either in a country without real nightlife. Platforms such as Couchsurfing or Meetup allow people to organize mixed-gender gatherings, but if you want to help fate a bit more, there is also the option to take your quest to Tinder.
In a country where the male population outnumbers the female by nearly 1:2, there is never a lack of attention for female expats – whether on Tinder or outside it. I have had absolutely nothing to complain about either the quantity or the quality of attention (could this be another reason I am so very fond of Kuwait? I imagine so! Hehehehe), so if Tinder was a thing back in 2014, I had definitely no need for it. But as I kept receiving the same answer to my question ‘Where do you meet locals in Kuwait’, I reluctantly gave in. Tinder it was.
Life in general is full of surprises, but this especially applies to Tinder in Kuwait. In a country where homosexuality is illegal, there were a surprising number of women looking to meet other women. All looking for a new shopping buddy? Who knows! Also, what an absolutely ridiculous supply of good-looking guys. Even if you filter out the ones showing off their body (too self-centered), their car (in a country where everyone has a fancy car, I appreciated people who are a bit more down to earth), certain nationalities you’ve had multiple bad experiences with or simply aren’t interested in meeting, there’s still a huge potential crowd. There’s a lot of tall, dark and handsome going on around there. Although in all fairness, after swiping for about half an hour, the guys all start to look the same to me.
Kuwait is a small world, and many people hang around in the same circles. One friend shows me how he matched with another friend of mine, and I match with a student of another friend. Another match happens to go to the same small-scale event I am attending, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Now what are the odds of that! Interestingly enough, Tinder allows you to talk to people you wouldn’t necessarily have talked to otherwise. My match is undeniably exceptionally good-looking, but my own stereotypes about his profession would have led me to cut off any conversation between us at a very early stage. And to my surprise, there is more to him than what meets the eye. I may not care very much about his nighttime activities, but the daytime version I like a lot indeed.
Back in Germany, I delete Tinder again. It has served its purpose, I have established contact with a handful of locals, had a lot of interesting conversations and learned a thing or two as well. Before I leave Tinder, I give my contact details to a young Kuwaiti guy planning to move to the Netherlands. He regularly texts me, but I think he has already decided I am not for him, as he just offered me his friend. Yup, just like that. I get an age (36) and a nationality (Kuwaiti), and a curious question. “My friend is looking for a Western wife, would you be interested in meeting him?” He’s dead serious, mind you. Oh oh Kuwait…
Photo credits: Chris Ford (CC BY-NC 2.0)