When completing an application, people must address several questions important to those looking for a spouse here: place of residence, occupation, salary, marital status, number of children.
And there are some traditional terms users must accept: “I swear by Allah the Great that all my information is accurate, and that I won’t use this website for entertainment.” What Wesal does not have is profile photos or any online chatting functionality, to protect the privacy of women and because both would be considered “haram,” or forbidden under Islamic law, Sheikha said.
It has been successful, and not just because Tinder and other dating apps are banned or severely frowned on here.
Its founder knows his demographic well: residents of the religiously conservative Gaza Strip, with its culture of resistance.
Some 1,400 men have been killed in the three wars with Israel since 2008, leaving many widows who would like to remarry.
Tradition, however, can make it difficult for them to wed single men.
“We also fight old traditions that say divorced women should not get married.” But while Sheikha is in favour of more options for women in the selection of a spouse, he is not a strong supporter of the choice to remain single.
In addition to helping widows and the divorced find husbands, he says he hoped the site would also address “an increase in the number of spinsters in their 20s and 30s.
With the Wesal service, a prospective groom receives a woman’s address when the two have exchanged “likes” online.
Through Wesal, she and her fiancé met in less than 24 hours.
She requested an educated man who didn’t smoke and who could secure a home in Gaza.
She will often agree because she is struggling financially and the group will pay her a salary.
“This matchmaking service is positive because it encourages these women to choose the potential husband without fear and pressure in this religious and patriarchal society,” says Owda.
Though popular, with some 100,000 visitors in a population of 2 million people in Gaza, the website is not universally liked. Women are not a sack of onions,” says Lina Zein, 25, a single woman from Gaza City, explaining that Wesal felt too transactional in its approach to arranging weddings.