Arab Americans are finding a refreshing way to forge meaningful connections within their community through the rise of the Detroit-based Arab relationship app, Baklava. This innovative platform has quickly gained popularity due to its commitment to honoring and preserving Arab culture while facilitating genuine connections without the limitations of traditional dating apps.
A Cultural Oasis
Baklava, named after the beloved Levantine dessert, took the digital dating scene by storm when it launched in December 2020. With dual headquarters in Los Angeles and Detroit, the app is led by a team of Arab women who are dedicated to creating a space where individuals can connect while feeling culturally seen.
According to Serena Skaf, Baklava’s chief marketing officer, many Arabs are flocking to the app as they believe it offers a unique opportunity to find compatible partners who share their values, interests, and connections. With its modes for friendship, dating, and marriage, Baklava has become a vibrant social hub for Arabs seeking genuine relationships.
The story behind Baklava is rooted in the personal experiences of its founder and CEO, Leila Muhaizen, and Skaf herself. The duo met as schoolmates in high school and eventually reunited to explore the idea of a dating app that fully embraced and resonated with Arab culture. Skaf, a tech entrepreneur with a passion for connecting people, joined as CMO, tasked with expanding the app’s user base in Arab markets.
Since its inception, Baklava has gained significant traction worldwide. With over 160,000 downloads and more than 75,000 active members daily, the app has facilitated 3 million matches and 10 million exchanged messages each month. Its success has not gone unnoticed, as Baklava topped the Global Dating Insights Startup Roundup in April 2021 and became the most downloaded app in Germany during the summer of the same year, surpassing social media giants like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
Bridging Gaps in a Dispersed Community
For many Arab individuals living in diaspora, the longing for love and connection can be amplified by the dissonance experienced in their new homes. Political conflicts, war, and instability often result in displacement, leaving Arabs scattered and alienated from their larger community.
Skaf recognizes this struggle and believes that Baklava can help bridge the social gaps faced by Arab individuals living in remote locations. By providing an open platform that removes filters based on religion or ethnicity, the app challenges Arabs to foster collectivism and reclaim control over their own romantic destiny.
A Departure from Traditional Matchmaking
Traditional Arab culture emphasizes a community-centered approach to romantic relationships, involving the active participation of family and friends. While this approach can be beneficial, it may also be restrictive and discomforting for some individuals. Baklava offers a modern alternative, empowering Arabs to venture into personal connections while bypassing the potential challenges that come with traditional matchmaking.
Despite the initial stigma of online dating within the Arab community, conservative Arabs are starting to embrace the idea of finding love through digital platforms. Skaf has observed a shift where individuals, who haven’t had luck within their own networks, are more open to chatting and getting to know someone on Baklava.
Redefining Connection, Preserving Culture
Baklava’s user-friendly interface resembles other popular dating apps, allowing users to build profiles complete with pictures and background information. For those concerned with privacy, Baklava introduced a unique feature called Incognito Mode, which allows users to control their visibility and reveal their profiles only to those they’ve matched with on their own terms.
In contrast to traditional matchmaking, Baklava challenges its users to break away from societal norms and embrace openness. The app discourages filtering potential partners based on physical attributes or specific preferences, encouraging users to be more open-minded and explore connections that they might not have considered within their limited social circles.
Baklava aims to create a space that is inclusive to both Arabs and non-Arabs interested in Arab people and culture. Users can proudly denote their Arab background through the display of Arab flags on their profiles. Additionally, the app incorporates playful prompts and culturally curated content, such as teasing graphic illustrations of the classic Persian and Arab love poem, “Layla and Majnun.”
Paving the Way for a Global Arab Community
Looking ahead, Baklava is actively working on expanding access for Arabs in more countries, including the Arab world itself. The app is also making strides toward becoming available on Anghami and Podio, the largest music and podcast streaming services in the Middle East. With these initiatives, Baklava aims to create a global Arab community that transcends borders and fosters genuine connections.
Joining the app is easy, with a basic level membership available for free. Advanced features are also offered for those seeking a more enriched experience. To learn more and embark on your journey of culturally authentic connections, visit Six Minute Dates.
Stay connected with Baklava and unlock the potential for love and connections that span boundaries and cultures.