If you and your partner have decided to head to Doha for a nice getaway you have likely been doing some research on the travel destination. That means you have probably come across some of the basic rules of Qatar, one of which prohibits PDA, and maybe even some other restrictions imposed on couples that are not married. Maybe now you’re reconsidering your whole visit, but have decided to do a bit more research. Good idea.
Are you wondering if unmarried couples can go to Doha? Yes, unmarried couples can travel to Doha, however some hotels may require you to stay in separate rooms. It’s important to note that there are actual Islamic laws in place to prevent unwed couples from rooming together. There is also a stigma that comes along with not being married and traveling together.
We are in no way recommending that you break the laws of Qatar. With that being said over the past few years the rules have become a little more relaxed. Nowadays, especially at luxury 4- and 5-star hotels, you either won’t be asked about your marital status or they will simply take your word for it without asking for more proof.
So what’s the deal with that law and what happens if we room together anyway?
Simply put, in the Muslim religion, there is a strict rule that prohibits premarital sex. To ensure, or at least make it less likely, that this doesn’t happen they require that no unmarried man and woman share a room. They consider this a sin. It’s really that easy. This is the case whether you live permanently in Qatar or if you’re just visiting. If you’re going to another country your best bet, even if you believe the rule to be silly and even if it costs you a bit more, is to be respectful and follow the rules. The worst thing you can do is insult the citizens and the country that you’re visiting.
Should the idea of rooming separately turn you off or seem impossible, you will need to decide what you are going to do. Many couples choose to just do it anyway. The punishment, should you be caught staying in the same room with a member of the opposite sex that you are not married or related to, includes a fine and even the possibility of jail time. That is, of course, if you’re found out.
The hotels are not held liable, which is probably why a lot of the bigger, more luxurious ones don’t even ask for a marriage certificate. Some hotels, however, are very strict about the law. Some will demand proof of marriage, and in that instance, you may find yourself coming out of pocket more than you expected to purchase an extra room.
Even couples that are married have run into trouble before for not having their marriage certificate on hand (because who travels with a marriage certificate?), and have been turned away from being able to check into their hotel. There’s a lot that can go wrong if you decide to wing it. If you do get approached by law enforcement, for any reason, don’t insult them or cause a fuss. That’ll make it worse for you in the long run. If it gets to this point you should just comply and get it sorted out asap.
What have other unwed couples done to stay together?
While we do not condone this, or breaking any Qatari laws, there are ways around it. Staying at expensive luxury hotels that don’t bother asking is a good place to start. It’s best to call and speak directly with the hotel prior to booking, so you’re not caught off guard when you arrive. As long as you’re not Muslim or Arab, and don’t go flouting your non-married, but totally together status, you should be just fine.
Depending on how far you want to take the charade you can also ensure that you wear a ring on your ring finger to imply that you’re married. Both you and your spouse should do this if you’re trying to make it look like you’re married.
Since you’re here doing your own research on the subject it shouldn’t completely catch you off guard should an attendant ask about your marital status. Just know that there are repercussions to breaking the law in any country you go to, so you should be fully prepared to accept responsibility.
What should I really expect as an unmarried couple traveling to Qatar?
Laws and technicalities aside, as long as you are discrete and stick to the same story (if asked, you’re married and your spouse is your wife/husband – not your girlfriend/boyfriend), you should be perfectly fine. Doha has become a huge travel destination for Westerners, so some of the more archaic rules get overlooked.
You will want to keep the public displays of affection (even hand holding) to a bare minimum to avoid any extra unwanted attention when you’re out and about, whatever you do behind closed doors…well just keep it behind closed doors (or save it for when you get back home). No amount of PDA is worth jail time in a foreign country, married or not.