Everything you need to know about marriage in Qatar

1 Apr 2023·19 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Qatar 01

Qatar is a country in the Middle East where about 4,000 marriages are held annually. The population of the country is less than 3 million, and the marriage rate is quite low due to the expenses incurred by the groom for this ceremony. Traditionally, most men who want to marry in Qatar have to save for several years before they are able to afford the wedding ceremony. Despite the fact that Qatar is a wealthy country, men still struggle even now to fulfill all the payments for the marriage ceremony, and this is a major reason why the marriage rate keeps declining. In Qatar, both civil and religious marriages are recognized and protected by law.

Qatar is generally regarded as a Muslim country because over 65% of the people in the country are Muslims who live under the practices and beliefs of sharia law. There are some strict laws hiding marriages in the country, and the legal age to get married in Qatar is 18 years for men and 16 years for women. Underage marriages are not permitted except in cases where parental or guardian consent has been provided. Other popular religions in the country include Christianity and Hinduism. Most of the laws guiding marriage in the country are under the principles of Sharia, which apply to the Muslims living in the country. Let’s go straight to the other important aspects of marriage in Qatar.

Civil Marriage 

Unlike most other countries, civil marriages in Qatar are only available to Muslim residents. According to Sharia law, non-Muslims are not allowed to get married in court in the country. Muslim marriages are performed according to Sharia law by an authorized officiant. In Qatar, marriages between Muslim men and non-Muslim women are not allowed. This is unlike most other Muslim countries where this type of marriage is allowed. According to Sharia law, a man is allowed to marry up to four wives, but this practice is no longer common. This is mainly because of how expensive it is to maintain four wives and keep a big family running. In modern Qatar, a woman can restrict her husband from marrying another woman while they are married by stating this as a clause in the marriage contract. There are certain documents that are required of spouses getting married in Qatar, which are stated below.

  • A valid national ID or passport
  • Birth Certificate. This must be presented by both spouses and have been issued recently to include all the important information, such as the parents' names and dates of birth.
  • Residence Permit. This is applicable to Muslim foreign nationals who want to marry in Qatar. The document must show that they have been living in Qatar prior to the arranged wedding day.
  • A duly completed application form
  • Passport photos 
  • Genetic screening test results This must be provided by both spouses after they have undergone genetic screening to ensure there are no abnormalities that may prevent them from getting married. This document must have been obtained recently, prior to the marriage ceremony.
  • Divorce or death certificate. This document must be submitted by a spouse who was in a previously dissolved marriage due to separation or the death of the former partner.

Religious marriage 

As stated earlier, the predominant religion in Qatar is Islam, and most of the marriages held in the country are according to Islamic beliefs. However, Christian marriages are also held in the country between couples of the Christian faith. The only non-Muslim marriage that is officially recognized and protected under Qatari law is a Christian marriage. This type of marriage must have been conducted in a church that is registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also, the clergy must be recognized and authorized by the ministry to conduct non-Muslim marriages. Marriages held otherwise are invalid in the country.

Christian Marriages 

The only legal way to get married in Qatar as a non-Muslim is for a Christian marriage to be conducted, as this is the only type of non-Muslim marriage the country recognizes. Couples must ensure that the church they plan to get married at is fully licensed and authorized to perform non-Muslim marriages. Anglican and Catholic churches are permitted to carry out legal Christian marriages in Qatar. However, they have their own specific rules on the conditions of marriage.
The couples planning to marry in Qatar must first contact the Christian religious body where the wedding will be held. Upon the completion of the marriage ceremony, the spouses will receive a marriage certificate, which must be translated into Arabic by an accredited translator. The translator must be recognized by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI). This document must then be submitted to the Ministry of Justice, where a copy of the marriage certificate will be stamped and kept in records with a registration number.

Muslim Marriages 

Muslim marriages in Qatar are held in the Sharia court. This type of marriage is between a Muslim man and a Muslim woman. Neither a Muslim man nor woman is permitted to marry a non-Muslim in Qatar. Also, the marriage between a Qatari and a foreigner must be approved by the marriage committee before it is allowed to take place in the sharia court. In Qatar, the father of the bride is required to give his consent on the day of the wedding ceremony, either in person or through a written letter. The couple must also provide a minimum of two witnesses.
After the sharia court ceremony is completed, SMS couples usually have a second traditional ceremony where various ceremonial rites are performed based on the customs and beliefs of the region or community. However, Muslims who have a traditional marriage must ensure that the principles of Sharia law are not violated during the course of the marriage celebration.

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Marriage traditions in Qatar

Qatar has a unique way of celebrating marriage ceremonies. Traditionally, the wedding ceremony is divided into two parts, with the first being the bride's party, which typically lasts from the afternoon until sunset, and the second being the groom's party, which is held at night when other marriage rites are performed. Some of the most popular traditions in Qatari marriages are stated below.

The Henna Party

This is a tradition where the bride’s body is decorated with traditional art. This is a party that is usually held by the friends of the bride before the actual wedding ceremony. Here, the bride dresses in a beautiful Qatari gown and is adorned with beautiful gold jewelry. The bride and her family usually receive gifts from the people who attend the henna party.

Wedding Food and Drinks

This is one of the ceremonial rites that is held in the concluding part of marriage celebrations in Qatar. It usually lasts up to several hours. Here, the men and women are separated into different halls to have a dinner ceremony where the best traditional delicacies in Qatar are served to the guests. The groom and bride will also receive various gifts and presents from the guests later on.

Zarif Dance 

This is an ancient tradition that is no longer popular but is still practiced in some rural communities. Here, the groom dances with a sword until he reaches the house of the bride, and he is often accompanied by various family members and friends who will be singing and dancing alongside him. This marriage tradition is usually fun for the couples as well as the rest of the wedding party.

Same-sex and polygamous marriages in Qatar

Marriage between two people of the same sex is illegal in Qatar. It is a criminal offense that is punishable under the laws of the country. Any form of relationship between same-sex couples is prohibited in the country, and this type of act can attract fines and up to seven years in jail. This is based on the principles of Sharia law.
Polygamy is legal in Qatar, and a man can marry up to four women if he has the financial capacity to do so. All the wives must be treated fairly and equally. Although polygamy is legal in Qatar, it is becoming less common because of the costs involved in taking care of a large household.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws 

Many Muslim nations, including Qatar, have rigorous laws and regulations governing marriage. While getting married is an exciting thing, it's crucial to follow all laws and regulations. In Qatar, Islam is the most practiced religion in the country; therefore, marriage must be done according to the dictates of Sharia law. Since Christian marriage is the only religious marriage recognized and protected by law, couples from other religions who wish to marry cannot have a civil wedding in Qatar. Marriage can only be contracted between a man and a woman; same-sex marriages or civil unions are illegal in Qatar. 

The legal age of marriage is 18 years old; however, cases of child marriages are rampant in the country. The husband must seek the permission of the bride's father for his daughter's hand in marriage; after an agreement is reached, the wedding is planned. If a man wishes to marry a non-Muslim woman, he may do so; however, a Muslim woman is only allowed to marry a non-Muslim man if he converts to Islam. Non-Muslim or foreign couples must only be married at church venues or embassies approved by the government; ceremonies at external venues are not permitted under the law. 

At the time of the solemnization of marriage, two witnesses must be present at the ceremony. Consanguineous marriage between people who share the same blood is legal, and first cousin couples can marry if they have any affinity. If one of the couples was previously married, the law mandates that a divorce or death certificate showing the nullification of said marriage be provided. A male citizen of Qatar who wishes to marry a foreigner must receive authorization from the ministry of interior affairs before he can get married. 

Cohabitation is an offense under the law. A mandatory medical screening and genetic test must be done by intending couples, and marriage counseling classes must be attended. Proof of attendance must be attached to all necessary documents that must be submitted to the court. All necessary paperwork required by the law, such as identity documents, birth certificates, etc., must be provided by couples before a marriage can be declared legal. Failure to abide by those rules could result in the annulment of the marriage. Muslim marriages must be conducted in a Sharia court of law before they can be declared legally binding.

Rights

In Qatari society, the rights of couples in marriage are not equal. Husbands exercise more rights in the home than wives; women always have to seek the permission of their husbands before they can do anything. Couples married under other religious beliefs have their rights spelled out according to their beliefs. In Qatar, a man has the right to marry up to four wives if he is financially capable and has the means to take care of them equally. However, the practice of this tradition has declined as many men are not financially able to marry more than one spouse. The husband has the right to restrict the movement and participation of his wife in political and economic activities. Women's rights in Qatar are limited, and women and girls are seen as subordinate to men. Women have the right to study, work, or even travel abroad, provided their husbands consent willingly. 

Men possess the right to make decisions that affect the family's political and moral inclinations. Couples have the right to bear children and raise them according to their beliefs, as well as provide them with a proper education. The husband has the right to demand obedience and respect from his wife in every aspect, and in return, she has the right to demand maintenance from her husband. If a man has the right to pass his nationality on to his children if he is married to a foreigner, but a woman does not possess this right, the child then loses all his nationality. 

The husband has the right to own property without seeking permission from his wife; on the other hand, the wife has to always seek permission to own property or financial assets. The man has the right to divorce his wife by saying "I divorce you" three times, and it stands, but for the woman, she has the right to file for divorce and prove it beyond every reasonable doubt before it can be granted. Qatar supports the cause of equality of rights between spouses, but rights that favor the patriarchy are often enforced.

Costs

The lavish wedding traditions in Qatar are making it almost impossible for prospective grooms to carry the cost of getting married. Many couples start saving for many years towards their marriage, and in many cases, they run into debt just to foot the bill of the ceremony. In Qatar, having a small wedding would make people think you're poor, which could harm your social standing. An average wedding in Qatar costs from 40,000 to millions of Qatari riyals, depending on how extravagant the couple wants the wedding to be. 

The size of the celebration depends on what couples can afford, but they must be able to afford a standard wedding, which would cost 40,000 Qatari riyals and can easily increase with the type of wedding and number of guests the couple would be catering to. The husband is responsible for paying for two ceremonies, one for himself and one for his bride, which are always the reason behind the very expensive cost of getting married.

Duties

As in any other country, spouses in Qatar have obligations to themselves based on Sharia law or their religious beliefs. Husbands have a duty to protect and provide for the family. He is the sole provider of all the family's material needs. They both play very important roles in the family, but the wife is seen as subordinate to her husband. She has a duty to respect and be loyal to her husband. The woman is solely responsible for the upbringing of the children and taking care of her husband and his family members; she ultimately assumes the role of motherhood and is obligated to take care of the home as she would her parents' home. The family should be able to provide education, financial support, medical care, and protection for their children at all times against abuse. The responsibilities and duties of couples continue until death or in the event of separation.

Conclusion 

Qatar has strict laws guiding the act of marriage in the country. The process of getting married in the country has several procedures that must be followed by both Qataris and foreigners. Additionally, there are certain restrictions faced by couples who want to get married in Qatar. Unlike most other countries, couples are not allowed to choose any kind of wedding location. The venue for the ceremony must be approved by the officiant or ministry.

Both Muslim and Christian marriages have their own restrictions in the country. A Muslim man or woman may only get married to another Muslim man or woman under sharia law. Any other form of marriage is not recognized by Qatari law. Also, for Christian marriages, Catholic Church marriages can only be performed where both spouses are Catholic or if one of the spouses is a Catholic and the other is a Christian of another denomination. We hope you now understand everything you need to know about marriage in Qatar.

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