OPW – Sep 16 – Islam has a huge influence on the dating industry in the Middle East. Alcohol is prohibited so bars are not the right place to find potential partners, and sex before marriage is forbidden. Owners of dating sites are in a risky business. They can be accused of helping people solicit for sex and arrested in some countries in the Middle East, said Honor Gunday. The interaction between men and women is different from liberal countries. You won't see women on the streets; they can't communicate with men directly. This creates a huge opportunity for dating sites. People still want to get married and dating sites make that possible.
There are lot of dating sites in Turkey:
1. Istanbul.net – Top dating site with 3M users, most of them are paid users. The site charges ~$20/month
2. GarantiArkadas.com – 2M users
3. Yonja – Started as a social network but Facebook overtook the market so Yonja is switching to becoming a gaming portal
4. Gonuldensevenler.com – Turkish eHarmony
5. Gizlipartner (secret partner) – Turkish Mate1
6. Embepanjur.com – Liberal matrimonial site
7. Itiraf.com – Confession site where women confess their crashes and men can reply to them.
Zurna was the 2nd largest social network after Yonja, before Facebook entered the Turkish market.
In Turkey, there is a lot of terrorists activities and prostitution. Zurna used to get lot of calls from police to share the IP's with them. It is illegal not to share those data. If you don't provide the info, your site can get banned which happened to Zurna. Zurna was banned over night without any explanation.
“Often the court makes decision without procedures in the Middle East countries”, said Horna who started a new billing company called PaymentWall after his company got banned. YouTube was banned for 3 years in Turkey.
Countries to avoid when launching a social networking/dating sites are: Iran, Syria, Irag, Saudi Arabis. Good markets are countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Bahrain, UAE and Qatar. - Honor Gunday, CEO of Zurna
Mark Brooks: I got an email from Tamer Kulman who tells me there are a few other notable Turkish dating companies. eCift.com, and siberalem.com.