Dubai: Traill Stocker, Arish Mistry and Brian Montgomery are ready to fall in love with that special someone.
Jade Lovett, Kerry Scott and Louise Fuller are single and happy to mingle, but with no plans of settling down any time soon.
Welcome to the singles scene in Dubai, a gender bender of role reversals where the boys are broody and the girls just wanna have fun.
In a city where the gender ratio is so dramatically skewed - seven men for one woman - one would have thought that most women would be in steady relationships. Surprisingly, that doesn't seem to be the case. In fact many expat women don't consider Dubai a city to put down roots in.
"This is a transient city, one which attracts those with a sense of adventure and a zest for life. None of us are going to be here forever" is a common refrain heard time and again.
Louise Fuller, owner of the Cut and Class London hair salon in Dubai Marina, explains. "The single scene in Dubai is completely different from London. Back home, people don't do much during the week, while here, there's something going on every night. And because there are so many other single people, one doesn't really need the one-on-one companionship that they would seek back home. In Dubai, I've always got someone to hang out with every night of the week." The British expat, who has been single for the last five months, says she's enjoying her single status and living it up.
As is 26-year-old Kerry Scott. The Yorkshire lady says she was in a serious relationship when she first came to Dubai 18 months ago. However, the couple split up a year ago, and today, Scott loves the freedom she has. "With the sort of life one tends to have here where's the time or the energy for a full-on relationship? Besides, Dubai's a transit point for most expats. As a result, it is not easy to find love. Most people come here with a time-frame in mind. They're here to make money and have some fun before they leave and go back home and start families."
According to statistics, the average expat age in Dubai is 27 years: an age many consider too young to settle down.
A core reason for the lack of long-term relationships in Dubai, according to Kerry, is the vast influx of nationalities. "As a single woman, I would have to think twice before making a commitment to someone from a different country. What happens when our time in Dubai is up? Who makes the sacrifice to live in the other's person's country?" The majority of Scott's friends therefore are single. "We've come here for the experience and will probably only settle down with someone once we move on. For now, I'm not ready for a relationship. I enjoy the liberty of being able to go club-hopping on ladies night, or hang out at my favourite places without someone calling to ask when I'll be home. There's no pressure to try and please someone."
Londoner Jade Lovett couldn't agree more. The 24-year-old, who works as a receptionist, is the first to say she isn't actively hunting for a relationship. "Being single in Dubai is brilliant. I don't have to answer to anyone, or be tied down when I could be out meeting new people and enjoying life. I get to be a free spirit here," she says. On the flip side, Lovett does admit to the odd bout of loneliness. Between the nights at Nelson's and Byblos are the occasional emotional moments. "Everyone gets lonely sometimes, and that's why friends are important. Especially the single ones, who'll pull you through the random bout of loneliness," she says, indicating that perhaps the reason so many women in Dubai have chosen the single life is because of the fear of being hurt once too often.
Too much fun
"I found that the majority of men I've met here are after quick flings. They don't want to grow roots here. There's too much fun to be had. Back home they have regular jobs and regular lives, but once they come here, they climb the success ladder all too soon, and suddenly they have more money, more cars, more everything than they do back home. They're living the high life here."
Men like that don't want to settle down, she claims.
The boys, however beg to differ.
Iranian-Indian model Arish Mistry says he's lived the party life for too long now. "I was that guy you saw at a club every other night, surrounded by good-looking people looking for some casual fun. I was younger and wanted nothing else but to spread my wings and fly. I didn't need to be tied down to just one person when there were so many options around."
Today, Mistry sings a different tune. "I've had my share of fun and have now reached that stage where I want to meet someone special. I want to fall in love, make a commitment. It was great being a party boy for a while, but it's now time to get serious."
The model who is a brand ambassador for Citizen watches says finding relationships isn't the problem in Dubai. There's a relationship to be found at every bar, lounge, club, cinema hall or restaurant. "Everyone's so lonely here that all you have to do is smile at someone and five minutes later they're chatting you up."
Being a well-known face in Dubai, Mistry admits to often receiving more attention than he wants. "If I like someone, I'll take the time to have a conversation with them. You never know where or when you'll meet the one you fall in love with." However, when the attention gets too much, Mistry slips on a ring on his wedding finger. "It's so I don't end up wasting my time with the wrong people," he smiles. "In a city where most singletons enjoy the party life, one needs to be selective."
Marine mammal behaviourist Traill Stocker is on the same page. "A lot of relationships in Dubai rarely last beyond three months. It's not really anyone's fault. There's just so much on offer here that the temptation may be hard to resist for many." The South African admits that his own past relationships have been typical Dubai-style: intense, unstable and short. "I don't want any more short-term relationships. I'm looking for the real deal. Every time I meet someone, it's wonderful at the start, and then things start to go awry. I've learnt that clubs and bars are definitely not the places to find true love. In an ideal world, I'd like to meet someone in normal, real-life situations, such as bump into ‘The One' while I'm out shopping at Ikea, or crash into my dream love on a lazy day at the beach. But then reality strikes and I know that I still live in Dubai, a place where true love is an elusive element very few ever find."
Also on the lookout for love is Brian Montgomery. The 32-year-old, who has been single for the past eight months, says Dubai isn't the easiest place to meet someone. "I'm ready for a real relationship, but don't relish the idea of meeting someone in a club or a bar, which is where the majority of singles hang out. Seeing that the nature of the city is transitory, plenty of people don't want to put down roots."
"I'd like to meet someone who's at a similar point in their life as I am, someone ready to explore the options of commitment. I'm not looking for a party girl, one who wants to go out every night. For some reason, it's difficult to find that sort of woman in Dubai," says Sak's celebrity hairdresser.
Montgomery admits that while he does enjoy catching up with friends at a bar, it's not a place for a romantic interest. "I'd much rather meet someone in real circumstances, such as through a friend," he says. True to his word, at the time of going to press, Montgomery let us in on the fact that he's finally in a relationship he was seeking. With a woman he met through a friend.
To help singles along in their pursuit of true love there's Lucy Mackintosh. The Briton runs regular Soulmate Calling workshops and monthly Law Of Attraction events to help singles attract the right person. Her next event on Attracting The Right Relationship is on December 4 (www.changing-lives.net.)