There are groups of energy healers and meditators too Image Credit: Corbis

If you check out Meetup.com, the world will seem like a friendly place. And the UAE seems full of friendly strangers bubbling with enthusiasm to meet and greet others. Rock climbers, fishing enthusiasts, musicians, hikers, bikers, meditators and entrepreneurs, they are all there, with their groups, waiting along the internet pathways excited to make friends with those like them.
It might seem a bit strange, this quest to meet others in such a manner. One wonders if it is for dating. Organisers of various groups say this is a question they contend with every now and then.
Focus on activity
Amy Subaey, Organiser of UAE Trekkers, an informal and friendly gathering of hiking enthusiasts, says that the venue may dictate the purpose of a group.
“There are groups that focus on hook-ups, but they are clear about it. If you’re going to a nightclub, that can be the purpose. But if you’re going up a mountain, you’d better be thinking about that,” says Subaey. “You have to be fit before you can get anywhere. That gets the focus on the activity.”
Not that the group is strictly-come-hiking. “It’s not that it’s not social. Of course, when you’re with people you get along well, it can happen. But it is focused on hikes and supporting each other. That’s why we have people of diverse cultures,” she says.
There are, for instance, 1,830 energy healers on the Illuminations group set up with the intention of helping individuals live light through gaining awareness about the power of the self, mind and consciousness in meditations, workshops, and training programmes.
A quick browse finds you an adult cheerleading group of 17, a cash flow club, which embraces financial freedom, and about 500 music lovers who have come together to organise home concerts. There are groups for singles or those without family in Dubai, but most specify what they do. Some are focused on outdoor activities, while others mention speed dating. 
The groups are initiated by couples, singles or a group of friends. Piotr and Dorota of Trekkup Dubai say, “We enjoy carrying our rucksack rather than a Gucci bag, swapping Louboutin stilettos for hiking shoes and prefer walking uphill than cruising along Shaikh Zayed Road in a Porsche.”
Budgeted groups
Most of the groups are non-commercial or budgeted. In a way they fulfil the need to focus on activities without having to rely on your workmates or friends. Mowrad Rownak, who runs Age of Rage of Range, says, “I like to train outdoors. I have a ninjutsu background and learnt street workouts after meeting others. I have met nice people. And as I have a day job, it’s not for money.”