Rules for Unmarried Couples Staying in Dubai Hotels

Updated November 21, 2016

Dubai's white sand beaches and posh resorts are becoming increasingly popular with European tourists. In view of the much-publicised conservatism of Islam in matters of sex, unmarried couples need to know what to expect when they check into a hotel in Dubai.

Recent Dubai Rules of Behavior

Dubai is more relaxed than the other seven members of the United Arab Emirates, but unmarried visitors should know about recently passed rules of behaviour. Dubai has banned all forms of nudity, playing loud music, plus kissing and holding hands in public. The guidelines appear to be aimed at the shopping malls popular with tourists, but you can be fined or imprisoned for violating them. A peck on the cheek is the limit. Anything more than that can lead to trouble with the police. The behaviour allowed in hotels, resorts and Western-style bars is more liberal.

Checking into a Hotel in Dubai

It is technically a violation of Sharia, Islamic law, for an unmarried couple to share a private room, a car, or a hotel room. However this rule, the Tawajed clause, is routinely overlooked in Dubai where foreigners outnumber the natives nine to one. Hotel clerks only ask for one passport and never ask for a marriage certificate. Since Arab women in the United Arab Emirates keep their surnames when they get married, different names on passports mean little. To avoid complications and hard feelings, couples should refer to one another from the moment of check-in as husband and wife.

Clothes to Wear

Your clothes should not fit too tightly or be transparent. Your hem lines should not be too high, and you should avoid skimpy T-shirts and other form-fitting clothes. Keep your body parts covered. Wear conservative swimwear at the beach.

Drinking in Dubai

You should not drink outside the dozens of hotels, resorts and nightclubs that legally serve alcohol. Dubai has made this cultural exception for drinking alcohol in the interests of pleasing Western visitors. To avoid trouble, you should observe their rules.

How to Avoid Trouble

The only recent trouble from police, reported in detail by British newspapers, has been when furious Western husbands and wives have complained about their wayward spouses to Dubai authorities. If you've left an angry husband or wife at home for some adulterous fun in Dubai, you should make sure he or she is not the vindictive type.

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