Calgary

Matchmaker helps Middle Eastern and South Asian Calgarians find love

Social activist and self-proclaimed “social butterfly” Saima Jamal is also an informal matchmaker for the city’s Middle Eastern and South Asian Muslim communities.

Social activist Saima Jamal says she ‘accidentally inherited’ the hobby from her mom

Saima Jamal (far right) is a self-proclaimed "social butterfly" who has become an informal matchmaker for Calgarians from different religious and cultural backgrounds. (Submitted)

A social activist and self-proclaimed "social butterfly" has become an informal matchmaker for Calgarians from different religious and cultural backgrounds.

Saima Jamal says it's a "hobby" that she just fell into.

"I might have just inherited accidentally from my mom who kind of inherited accidentally from her mom," said Saima Jamal, co-founder of the Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary.

Through her social circles, Jamal says she often meets people looking for love who have "hit a wall."

Most of the people who contact her are from Calgary's Middle Eastern and South Asian communities and practice Hinduism or Islam.

"For a large number of Muslims, you cannot just go to a pub or a bar and meet your partner there. You cannot just go dating without, like, chaperones," she said.

Saima Jamal is the co-founder of the Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary. (Saima Jamal/Facebook)

Promotes singles on Facebook

While many of her potential candidates are longtime Calgarians, Jamal says she has also been approached by several Iraqi refugees.

"They've been here six months say, and they're lonely and they don't know how to navigate the norms. Many of them don't even speak the language, so they need help."

Jamal will post a couple lines on her Facebook page about the potential candidate, such as their age, religion and cultural background.

Those interested private message her and if she thinks they're a good match, she'll arrange for the two to meet.

Jamal said there are online dating sites for Muslims, but they're expensive and her services are free.

"When you do this sort of work you do it because maybe because you love humanity, maybe because it gives you a high … But it's also a religious obligation. It gives you rewards in your afterlife."

While Jamal has connected "dozens" of people over the years, only one couple has actually tied the knot.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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