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With a small marketing budget, the site soft-launched on Valentines Day 2013 with a goal to win 15,000 registered users. Without any advertising since April, et3arraf’s user-base has grown to 56,000.

It is most popular in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, followed by Jordan and Morocco.

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“There is no concept of dating in the Arab world,” says CTO Nimer.

” In conservative Arab countries, one of the main ways to meet someone is through your family—maybe your mom introduces you to someone.

Similar “logic that builds Amazon’s algorithm will be used to suggest other users,” explains Nimer.

Working with Zahi Karam, an MIT-trained electrical engineer, they expect that the new function will be finalized by mid 2014.

“I came back to Lebanon and I had the idea that it is really important to find someone that is close to your values, your principles and what you stand for,” he explains.

“I realized that there was nothing like this for Lebanon or the region.

Eighty-four percent of users say they have met at least one person through the platform.

Based on an “affinity matchmaking quiz,” et3arraf recommends up to 40 matches, 10 of whom are active on the site at the same time and 30 of whom are considered to be the most compatible.

“ He and Nimer met at a tech mixer, and agreed that marriage websites were an untapped market in the Arab world.

“There is a cultural constraint between genders [in the region],” Maalouf says. And at the same time, there is a lot of social pressure for young people to get married at a certain age: You are 30? You should find a wife.” Conceived as something similar to Ok Cupid or e Harmony, the cofounders say et3arraf uniquely preserves “the cultural constraint” for conservative Arabs, while giving users the chance to interact and meet more like-minded matches.

’ This is the kind of question you cannot ask of an Arabic audience,” insists Maalouf.

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