Rules for Unmarried Couples Staying in Dubai Hotels
Dubai is the most liberal state of the seven states that form the United Arab Emirates. It is becoming one of the most visited Arabic destinations among European visitors. While Dubai may be relaxed and more western compared to other conservative Arabic countries, there still are behavior rules visitors, must be familiar with to enjoy their stay in Dubai and avoid trouble with the law.
Sharing a Hotel Room
According to the Tawajed clause of the Sharia law, it is illegal for an unmarried couple to live together or be alone in a private room. This includes a hotel room and car. However, Tawajed clause is overlooked often. Nevertheless, it is advised to present yourself as husband and wife when checking into your hotel. Hotels don't ask for a marriage certificate and hardly ever ask to see more than one passport. It is also usual for married Arab women to keep their own last name, so having a couple share a room with two different last names is common. Many unmarried western couples live together in Dubai and they rarely have any problems with the Tawajed clause.
Public Displays of Affection
Kissing and holding hands in public are violations of the Sharia law, so it is respectful not to show affection toward your partner in a Dubai public setting.
Skimpy T-shirts and tight tops are not appropriate clothing in Dubai. Avoid transparent or form-fitting clothes that show off any body parts. Hem lines must be long enough to cover your knees. Conservative swimwear is only allowed on beaches.
It is legal for non-Muslims to buy alcohol and consume it in zones designated for it. Many hotels have bars and clubs, and they serve alcohol legally, but it is illegal to drink alcohol or be under the influence of alcohol in public.
According to the Sharia law, violation of the guidelines set for public appropriateness carries a possible prison penalty or deportation. Remember that being respectful for the rules and Islamic culture is the key and will prevent you from getting into trouble with the law. Flaunting western lifestyles or drawing attention to yourself while in public can cut your vacation short.
Eija Rissanen is a freelance journalist living in Hawaii. She has a journalism and environmental studies degree from Hawaii Pacific University. Her articles have been published in Kalamalama, the student newspaper of Hawaii Pacific University, and some other environmental and travel publications and Web sites in Europe and the United States.
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