Dating in Dubai is a real struggle for many expats for numerous reasons. From those in the "transit phase" to those who can't seem to find a proper work-life balance, finding the right partner in a city as occupied as Dubai is somewhat an extreme sport. It's not just a theory anymore as statistics are here to prove it.

Global healthcare provider Aetna International recently surveyed 2,000 expat employees in several countries across the globe to understand what aspects of "international relocation affect their health and well-being the most." 

For expats in the UAE, the only Arab country part of the report, the most challenging part about living in the Gulf nation is the dating sphere. Among the expats surveyed, 91 percent perceive "dating" as an incredibly difficult and challenging process in the UAE. The percentage is the highest among the countries included in the list and 15 percentage points higher than the global average (76 percent). 

Of the UAE expats surveyed, 57 percent were men while 43 percent were women. In total, 90 percent of expats in the UAE said they believe "dating" impacts their well-being, a number that exceeds the global average by double. Other aspects that expats believe impacts their well-being are finding new friends (91 percent) and finding a community (40 percent) - both of which are higher than the global average in the respective category. 

To put things in perspective, here's how expats in other countries part of the report ranked in the "dating" category specifically:

  1. UAE (91 percent)
  2. Thailand (88 percent) 
  3. Hong Kong (80 percent) 
  4. India (78 percent)
  5. Spain (77 percent) 
  6. Indonesia (74 percent) 
  7. Canada (70 percent) 
  8. Singapore (70 percent)
  9. Mexico (68 percent)
  10. UK (59 percent)

Expats in the UAE seem to have a bit of trouble with breaking the ice in the field of dating. On the other end of the spectrum is the UK, where dating is seen as a minor challenge for expats in the country.

Other findings

For expats in the UAE, making an "expat friend" is easier than making a "foreign friend" during the first month after the move to the country. In fact, 33 percent reported that they made an expat friend in the first month of their move, whereas 15 percent befriended a foreigner. However, in the months that follow (2 to 6), the percentage gap between the "friend categories" is reduced significantly. 

In the first month of their move, expats do not necessarily feel "part of the UAE community" - with only 15 percent saying they do. However, in the following months, that percentage more than doubled to 31 percent. 

Read the full report here