This Middle Eastern Dating App Is A Game-Changer

While seemingly endless new niche dating apps pop up constantly, one of the things we never seem to talk about is how much and how often they center American dating ideals. Imagine trying to use Grindr in a place where being gay is illegal, or using Tinder in a place where female sexuality is anything but autonomous. Enter: Caline Nahhas, Andy Tarabay, and Jad Arida, the Beirut-based co-founders of Matchmallows, an app designed to cater to non-Western dating culture.

Matchmallows was designed with Middle Eastern users in mind, taking into account that it's more difficult for them, especially women, to feel comfortable posting photos of themselves and their real names on a dating site. (Apps like Hinge, for example, link with your Facebook, so it's hard to obscure your real name.)

"Here in the Middle East, it’s not like in the States," Tarabay told Daily Dot. "Especially women, they’re not really comfortable putting up a lot of photos of themselves."

In an effort to cater to a very different set of cultural norms, Matchmallows set out to be the anti-appearance-based app. Here are seven things to know about Matchmallows:

1. Photos Are Optional

So while Tinder focuses on appearance, with most of the information available dedicated to photos of your abs posing with a tiger, Matchmallows focuses on highlighting personality traits. As previously stated, it's mostly women who take advantage of not uploading photos, while most men's profiles do include them.

2. The Personality Questions Are Image-Based

Perhaps the single most unique thing about Matchmallows is that their personality questionnaire, comprised of 27 questions to determine your leading characteristics, is image-based. So, unlike the endless stream of OkCupid questions — where you answer multiple choice questions by filling in a bubble, then rank how important your potential match's answer to the question is, then write in an explainer, should you so choose — Matchmallow's questions are answered by choosing one of four images that best represent your answer. The app acquired the image-based model straight from the psychologists who developed it.

3. You Can Use A Nickname

Since the app doesn't sync with any other social media profile, you're free to enter any name you choose. This both does away with the potential safety issues of disclosing your real name, and circumvents the problem trans* folks often face of being forced to use their legal names on Facebook, which then gets transferred over to the dating app, whether it's the name they use or not.

4. You Match Based On Personality, Not Personal Details

There's no way to assess a Matchmallows user's profession, income, height, astrological sign, autobiographically-written profile or any other information readily available on other dating apps. All you can see is how compatible you are based on answering the personality questions. This is useful for obscuring personal details in cultures where compulsively over-sharing is not the norm. (WHAT?)

5. You're Only Shown Good Matches, But You Can Pay For Bad Ones?

The app only shows you matches who are 55 percent compatible with you or higher. Alternatively, you can pay $9.99 a month for a premium membership that allows you to see low compatibility matches, if you insist on opposites attracting. A premium membership also allows you to "travel" to see matches in other geographical locations.

6. The App Is Available in 25 Languages

While the most significant user population for Matchmallows is in Saudi Arabia, the app's multilingual interface means it experiences usership in places like Thailand and France, too!

7. Video- And Photo-Sharing Are In The Works

Looking to the future, the founders of Matchmallows hope to add video- and photo-sharing to the app's messaging capabilities, so you can maybe inch your way towards disclosing your face as you get to know a new match.

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Images: Fotolia (4); Matchmallows/Facebook; Giphy (3)