Rules for Unmarried Couples Staying in Dubai Hotels
Compared with other United Arab Emirates’ states, Dubai is very liberal. Islamic law still is observed there, but the tourism industry also is very powerful. That means thousands of visitors arrive to Dubai every week, many of whom are unmarried. While many Dubai hotels are likely to turn a blind eye to the issue, you still should take precautions about what you do and say.
Islamic law prohibits unmarried couples from living together. The same rule applies to sharing a hotel room. In theory, hotels should also not call you a cab or help you book a tour in which you will be alone with your partner. This is based on the Tawajed clause, which states that people of opposite sex cannot be alone together unless they’re married or are family.
Most Dubai hotels don’t enforce the “only married couples” rule. Luxury hotels, which often cater to foreigners, are especially relaxed, so chances are you won’t have trouble booking a room. At check-in, you’ll be required to show your passport, but having different surnames won’t raise any eyebrows. In Dubai, married women often keep their surnames.
Public displays of affection are not well-tolerated in Dubai. Holding hands is fine for married couples, but kissing or hugging in public are not acceptable. Keep in mind that if you’re stopped by the police because you’re holding hands and you’re not married, you might run into trouble. This is unlikely to happen in the hotel and more likely to happen in public places like restaurants or shopping centers. Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re staying at a hotel with a lot of Muslim visitors, it’s always possible for them to alert the authorities about inappropriate behavior. If the police then discover you’re not married, you might be in legal trouble.
Once you've checked into a hotel, refer to each other and "husband" and "wife" rather than saying "my boyfriend" or "my fiance." This could help prevent potential problems.