The dating world wasn't born yesterday and is definitely not limited to internet access, and that gives it room to grow in many different ways and across various communities. Recently, however, online dating has been witnessing a wave of perfections to guarantee better user interactions within the platform or application.
In the Arab region, though known for its strict adherence to traditions and norms, several dating apps have been developed to target Arabs or Muslims specifically.
"Finding a partner in the more traditional sense was always going to be less comfortable for us, I've tried on a personal level on [sic] what all the muslim marriage websites had to offer at the time, and they were all dominant with fake users, expensive subscriptions and old interfaces," Olid Uddin, Co-Founder and Director at Veil, a Dubai-based dating app for Muslims, told StepFeed.
Mr. Uddin and Co-Founder Adam Ward were two young Muslim men in England when the idea to create a platform solely for Muslims came to mind. Veil was introduced in 2019 as a minimum viable product (MVP) and alternative to the current matchmaking networks available on the market. Instead of investing attention in appearances while matching with a user, Veil seeks a special focus on personality-based matchmaking.
"All photos are initially slightly blurred (like the traditional wedding Veil a bride would wear) and when two users mutually like each other, the app would match them and unveil their photos automatically," Mr. Uddin explained. "The idea behind this is to encourage users to spend more time reading about the users profile rather than endlessly swiping through photos that are appealing to them," he added.
With over 10,000 users on the first iOS MVP version of the bootstrapped app, Veil was rebuilt and relaunched recently with new features and performance improvements. Some freshly tweaked elements include Boosters, which allow users to inform and chat with others once they like their profile; Rewind, which allows users to instantly go back to a profile they mistakenly liked or passed, "a very common occurrence with users"; and Profile Flipping, a feature that involves flipping the profile up to like and down to pass.
One interesting feature, rarely seen in other Muslim matchmaking apps, is the wali (guardian) feature. This characteristic respects Islamic traditions that usually revolve around the parents' presence in their kid's relationship; many Muslim women can only communicate with the opposite sex (a potential partner) if their parents agree to it. Members of Veil have the option to share their chat transcript with their guardian through the wali feature.
Quite the traditional ingredient for a modern-day dating app, though that's not the only norm you'll find yourself familiar with on Veil. Besides filling your family in on the intimate conversation, it is an option for a mother or father to scroll through the app looking for potential spouses for their children.
"It does not matter what sect you follow, how many divorces you may have had, if you have kids, if it's parents or siblings looking on behalf of their sons/daughters. We accommodate all [...]," Mr. Uddin emphasized.
Developing a tech startup was not an easy process for both co-founders as they personally financed their project at first. They've received seed funding since then and expect to be on their way to the next stage, Series A. Acquiring user feedback and understanding patterns while using Veil was also essential for the launch of the second version, which is now available on iOS and Android.
"[...] we started off very small hiring developers part time which affected our timelines and it took a lot of trial and error getting the right developers to deliver a viable product for the market. It took a real hands on approach to get to the right product which involved designing the app myself, QA [Quality Assurance] testing and project managing the development of the app," he explained.
The success of a matchmaking platform can be measured by the number of couples formed (and app uninstalls). Mr. Uddin believes it's "near impossible" to accurately detect how many preliminary matches have lead to successful coupling. Many Muslim-related networks boast their achievements throughout their marketing campaigns, mentioning "25,000 successful marriages" or so, and that's something Veil's founders don't rely on.
A successful tracking method, according to Mr. Uddin and based on the number of users currently using the app, is to periodically contact members to confirm whether they have met anyone through Veil.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Uddin met his current partner while developing the platform that serves this purpose, even though, according to him, meeting his partner via the app would've made "some good headlines".
The current plan for the young entrepreneurs is for their platform to be recognized as one of the leading Muslim marriage networks on a global scale. "The vision for Veil has always been to remove the taboo generally associated with using online matchmaking tools, the experience should be reliable and most importantly fun, not a daunting experience," the London-based Co-Founder said.