Thousands of the capital's singletons are turning to a new generation of mobile dating apps looking for casual hook ups to a serious relationships and every fetish in between. Conor Sheils delves into the worlds of Tinder and Grindr...
Sex starved Cairenes are taking to mobile dating sites in the hope of hooking up. The popular dating app, Tinder, matches single (and not so-single) daters to potential partners based on profiles. A CairoScene swoop found more than 50 singles using the online site at any one time. The concept behind the sexy social network is simple: "Users upload a picture and short profile, the site then uses GPS / web technology built into the user's phone to find other Tindr users in the surrounding area. Users are then allowed to select potential suitor they fancy and if their would-be lover feels the same then the app allows the pair to get in touch via an in-built messaging system." The application has already proven a huge success internationally ansd now Egyptian users are logging on in an effort to get off.
One user told CairoScene: "In Egypt, there are so many formalities to go through in order to meet people. There is also a lot of pressure to get married and have children but as the saying goes: 'you must kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.' The beauty of the app is that you can easily block or disconnect from a person if they overstep. It allows complete control and the best of both worlds. It's new way for Egyptians to get together outside of the traditional social norms."
However, one female Tinder user claimed only to use the application in order to feel good about herself. "When I split with my ex, I immediately gravitated towards Tinder and similar apps because I felt lonely and wanted an ego boost. I don't know if I could ever marry somebody I met online - but who knows?" Many have criticised the concept as shallow, thanks to a reliance on looks and first impressions rather than personality. Nevertheless, the trends speaks volumes with thousands of young Egyptians logging on every day.
The majority of users are aged 30 and under with an even balance between male and female surfers. Of course, many will claim that the increase in app useage merely reflects changes in Egyptian society as a whole. In the 1970s, almost 1 in 4 Egyptian women aged 15-19 walked down the aisle, whereas by the late 2000s, that figure had dropped to less than one in ten. Cairenes in particular are now more sexually active than ever before with sex before marriage the norm, rather than the exception and more adventurous Cairo residents organising weekly swingers and even fetish parties in the city.
But it isn't only Tinder setting pulses racing across Egypt. Gay hook-up application Grindr has also gathered a loyal following among the city's homosexual community.
In a country where being gay is still seen by many as taboo, Grindr provides a welcome release for young singles hoping to hook up in Cairo and beyond. CairoScene journalists found 1000s of unattached gay Egyptians using the app which caters for niche markets including cross dressers. The news will undoubtedly shock many who bemoan the relatively limited range of options available to the homosexual community in Egypt.
One user claims that the site has revolutionised Cairo's gay scene. He said: "It really has changed everything. Before this it was so difficult to meet people because of social conservatism and the lack of a gay scene. It's so much easier to meet people on Grindr than trying to be discreet on the Cairo bar and club scene. However, a former user was critical of the app, calling the concept "Animalistic...It's disgusting. People send each other pictures of their private parts before even sending their names."
Regardless of your opinion one thing's for sure - hooking up in Cario sure ain't what it used to be.