Arab Americans are eagerly searching for an alternative way to create meaningful connections within the community, building on the astonishing growth of the Detroit Arab Relations app, Baklava.
“We decided to open a headquarters in Detroit because of the huge community we are in [Arabs] Here, says Serena Skaff, Baklava’s chief marketing officer. “For Arabs looking to meet people, they want to feel culturally subordinate and also want what anyone wants…love and connection.”
Named after the popular Levantine dessert, Baklava launched in December 2020 and is dual headquarters in Los Angeles and Detroit. The team, led by Arab women, is committed to honoring and preserving Arab culture while helping people make real connections without the stigma of traditional dating apps features and filters.
Skaf says she has seen many Arabs switch to baklava from other relationship applications because they feel they will have more values, interests, and reciprocal ties with other Arabs. The application contains modes for friendship, dating and marriage, which makes the application a hub for social applications for Arabs to communicate.
“For Arabs looking to meet people, they want to feel culturally subordinate and also want what anyone wants…love and connection.”
Skaf and Laila Muhaizen, founder and CEO of Baklava, met with classmates while in high school before reconnecting years later to discuss the possibilities of a dating app that “harmonizes and interacts with our culture.” Skaf joined as a CEO with a background in tech entrepreneurship, tasked with growing the app’s user base in Arab market demographics and targeted access and awareness campaigns.
Today, the app is growing with more than 160,000 downloads and more than 75,000 daily active members all over the world, including the United States, the Arab world, and Europe. Since its launch, Baklava has generated 3 million “matches” and 10 million messages exchanged per month.
In the summer of 2021, Baklava became the most downloaded app in Germany, surpassing social media giants Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. Baklava was also ranked number one in a brief report on global dating start-up insights in April 2021.
“We were so excited to hear their success stories of finding love and friendships from people,” Skaff says. “It’s crazy and a privilege, we’ve been invited to so many weddings and events. [We get] Messages from people all over the world about the new, lasting relationships they have found with us.”
Online dating as an alternative to matchmaking in traditional Arab countries
According to the Arab American Institute, there are an estimated 436 million Arabs in the world, approximately 3.7 million of whom identify and live in the United States as Arab Americans. Many members of the community live in diaspora, and very often individuals find themselves displaced from their original homeland and separated from each other due to political conflicts caused by war and instability in the region.
In his influential prose book, the ProphetThe late Lebanese writer and poet Khalil Gibran captured the longing of many for love in times of emotional or physical dissonance, as he famously wrote: “And it is known that love does not know its depth until the hour of parting.”
Skaff says that one of the main intentions in creating the app was to bridge the gaps of social isolation for Arabs while renewing their lives in new homes, especially those who live in remote places around the world far from the larger community.
“We’ve already been displaced in our new communities and usually live as minorities,” Skaff says. “We are scattered all over and already divided.”
The Baklava app’s open platform concept challenges Arabs to build a sense of community by removing filters such as religion or ethnicity preferences.
When it comes to romantic relationships, traditional Arab culture is built on a cohesive, community-centered approach to dealing with social situations, and family and friends are usually involved in the process.
This societal approach aims to reflect on the considerations of those who know the couple best in hopes of guiding them collectively toward a successful marriage.
The app allows Arabs to explore an alternative way to find contact themselves while also circumventing the inconveniences that researchers might encounter through more traditional matchmaking.
Arabs can choose to pursue communication independently through the app and help mediate common issues such as “people-pleasing (putting a front on the other family, respect out of respect) and lack of control (looking for your own partner offers better odds like you know your preference”.
Although there is still a stigma around online dating in the Arab community from those who frown at singles who are taking charge of love, Skaff says she has noticed that conservative Arabs are now more open to chatting and getting to know someone when they haven’t. They find luck. within their own networks.
The app features an easy-to-use interface that is similar to other dating apps, including steps to create a complete profile with photos and background information. For those concerned about privacy, one of Baklava’s specialized features includes Incognito mode, a paid option that allows users to make their profile invisible to others and only reveal themselves to those in the queue through a match made on their own terms.
Unlike other traditional matchmaking apps, while Baklava users can include preferences in their bio descriptions, they cannot filter people by height, skin color, religion, or any other attributes. This is to challenge users to be open when it comes to making connections with others who might not have given them a chance to explore otherwise within limited social circles.
The platform is an invitation to both Arabs and non-Arabs who are interested in Arab peoples and culture. Arab users can select Arab flags on their profiles indicating their background, and the app includes exciting illustrations of the classic Persian and Arabic love poem “Layla and Majnun” and fun, culturally curated prompts, such as “FOB” [fresh off the boat]White, or medium? ”
Looking to the future, baklava is expanding its reach for Arabs in more countries, including the Arab world, and is moving towards being available on Anghami and Podio, the largest music and podcast streaming services in the Middle East.
The basic level to join the app is free with advanced features available with membership. To learn more, see baklavaapp.com.
Stay connected with the Detroit Metro Times. Subscribe to our newsletters, and follow us on Google News, Apple News, TwitterOr Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, or TikTok.