To say dating in Dubai is tricky is an understatement – with such a transient populace, not everyone’s seeking a serious, long-lasting relationship. Factor in long working hours, an emphasis on social status, the prevalence of ghosting, and all those headlines on scams carried out via dating apps, and you’re looking at a recipe for disaster. Enter: Christiana Maxion.
Better known as ‘The Dubai Matchmaker’, the New York native is (you guessed it) a Dubai-based matchmaker and dating coach, passionate about helping the city’s singles find love. On a mission to rewrite the blueprint of the Dubai dating-verse, she’s also the host of the aptly named Dating in Dubai podcast that spans subjects like dating different nationalities, the perils of Tinder, and even her own UAE break-up story. We spent an evening chatting with this charismatic dating guru. Here’s what we learned.
1. Dating in Dubai is tricky, but it has its merits.
“You can argue both sides. I would say Dubai is definitely a place where you can have the most fun in dating because you can literally date the entire map. It’s such an international city – even New York City, where I’m from, has more of a homogeneous community in the sense that most people are American. But here in Dubai, you have people from so many different parts of the world, so it’s a really cool place to date. As for this mindset that it might be more difficult? I think that it’s a place where you can actually weed out what you like, where you can test the waters. And maybe it will take a little longer to find that person who you do connect or click with, but then again, dating is an experiment. It’s a game. You just have more options here, which I think is great.”
2. Not all singles in Dubai prioritise status when dating.
“It’s dependent on where you are. Of course, when you’re in Dubai – whether you’re visiting or you live here – you see the flashy cars, you see that it’s an expensive city. While there are ways to live in Dubai on any budget, it is a flashy city – but it’s about what kind of crowd you roll in, what kind of places you go to, where you meet different types of people. Also, different people define ‘status’ differently. For some, status is a nice car. For others, status is their family unit or the relationships with their friends. And I think Dubai is a place where you can make it whatever you want. If you want the city to be healthy or outdoorsy, you can do that – you can go hiking, you can join cycling clubs, you can join the gym. And if you want it to be super luxe, you can be out in DIFC or Downtown Dubai. There really are so many ways to experience and live in Dubai.”
3. Quality singles do exist in Dubai.
“I think there are so many quality people in the UAE, especially in Dubai, because it takes a certain personality to move here. It isn’t home for most people – close to 90% of the population is composed of expats, so it takes a certain mindset to leave a place that’s comfortable, a hometown maybe, and move to Dubai. And what I love about this city is that it breeds so much opportunity – people come here, they start new businesses, they maybe bring something that’s popular in their home country but doesn’t exist here. A lot of people have an entrepreneurial spirit, that ambition, that drive, which I personally find really attractive. So, yes, there are plenty of quality people here, but you might not find them on a dating app. Or maybe they are on a dating app, but they don’t come across that way on their profile, which is why I say to move more towards dating in the wild.”
4. Dating apps in Dubai – and everywhere else – are trouble.
“Dating apps in general are bad news. We’re in 2022, and the dating app market is really saturated – and with that comes a lot of fake profiles, a lot of profiles of people maybe who aren’t portraying their authentic selves. And in Dubai at least, the pandemic seems to be kind of over – we’re at least halfway out of it – so more places are open. There are so many different hobbies and interests that you can invest in and actually meet somebody in person. Besides, dating apps take away that vetting process, right? Would be curious to know more about a person based on an in-person interaction or a static photo and some words put together that might not even be true? I’d recommend Dubai singles to pursue more hobbies and go out there to meet people in person – or hire a matchmaker!”
5. Meeting a partner ‘in the wild’ is more likely to yield the right partner.
“I think that meeting a partner in the wild not only narrows down the vetting process, but also the effort involved in the dating process. Yeah, it might take time to meet someone who you actually connect with, but at least you’re not blindly going on dates with people you know nothing about. You get that automatic feeling when you meet somebody in person, whether or not you’re curious to know more about them, or if you have a connection. You instantly know if you want to see where it goes.”
6. Demand for matchmaking services is on the rise across Dubai.
“I hear so many complaints from both clients and friends about the fact that people aren’t portraying their authentic selves. They go on a date, and realise the profile contained altered photos, filtered photos, photos from 10 years ago. Some people aren’t being honest about their relationship status, either. But when you join our database – either as a member or a client – you’re completely vetted. We interview every single person, and you have to sign a contract confirming that you’re actually portraying your authentic self. And when we do present potential matches, we tell you why you would be compatible with a particular person. As for those who trust the process? I tell everybody that even if there isn’t a romantic spark, it could result in a friendship or business connection.”
7. Overwhelmed by modern dating? A dating coach can help.
“Sometimes, what ends up happening in dating is you ask your friends for their opinions. Or maybe your past experiences have shaped your perception of what dating should be. Or maybe you’ve lowered your standards in some way. In contrast, I call the dating coaching that I provide ‘empowered dating’. It’s about breaking through past patterns by starting with a deep analysis of your most significant relationships. We then build your ideal partner – this is like the customised compatibility coding that I do with my matchmaking clients, but in even more depth. From there, we create dating opportunities, so based on this compatibility code, we determine what hobbies and interests you can invest in to meet or attract this partner in real life.
Coaching also entails learning how to put yourself first – date yourself first, get to know yourself, and put yourself on a pedestal. One of the things we do is create a unique selling point list – your USP list – and then talk about all your achievements and what you bring to a relationship. This is because once you start putting yourself on a pedestal, it’s easier to see both the green and red flags when you’re dating. You’re no longer going to settle for somebody who treats you lesser than. And a really big point that I emphasise when I work with clients is that you should be dating like you’re the CEO of your dating life – you wouldn’t hire somebody to work for you if they weren’t meeting your minimum requirements, right?”