Monday 16 December 2019 (UAE)

Living together in Dubai as an unmarried couple

Living together with boyfriend or girlfriend in Dubai

This information is not intended to encourage anyone to break the law, it is a perception or observation of life in Dubai from the perspective of couples living together. Nothing in here should be taken as advice. If you break the law in any country, you are at risk of being arrested and prosecuted.

TLDR version: Yes, there are unmarried couples living together in Dubai. You can live together with your boyfriend or girlfriend, meaning it is possible, not permitted, just as it is possible to do many things that are illegal in different countries. Many unmarried couples do live together in Dubai and the UAE without resulting in problems with the authorities but arrests can and do happen (more often for having sex in Dubai outside marriage than cohabitating). If couples do get into trouble with the law, it is usually because they have done something to draw the attention of the police, or offended someone who reports them to the police. The longer version ...

Many (usually western) couples wonder about living together in Dubai when they're not married. Note that the following comments apply to Dubai, there are differences in how the rules are applied in other emirates.

Couples sharing hotel rooms in Dubai
Men and women sharing accommodation in Dubai

With respect to sharing apartments and villas, it is quite common for groups of unrelated mixed gender people to share accommodation (and sometimes even rooms but usually room mates are of the same sex) in Dubai. Again, if people do run into trouble, it's more likely because they've annoyed neighbours who have complained to police about noise, alcohol in Dubai, and/or drugs in Dubai. Note that the Dubai Municipality (DM) has threatened, and evicted, bachelors, single people, and families from what they deem to be overcrowded villas. Groups of single people sharing a villa in Umm Suqeim or Jumeirah are at risk of this, however, as of 2009-2010 at least, they do not seem to be as high on the DM target list as the 50 bachelors or half-dozen families sharing a villa in Rashidiya. And classified advertisements for flatmates continue to appear in Dubai newspapers and on classified ad websites.

Couples wondering about living together in an apartment or villa in Dubai are normally unlikely to have any problems, unless they draw attention to themselves in a way that the police are prompted to get involved. As the concept of having a girlfriend / boyfriend is not generally acceptable to many non-Western cultures, you may find it more convenient to refer to your partner as your wife / husband when dealing with non-Westerners. That can smooth the path so to speak, in many circumstances, however, you won't get away with that if you're in a situation where the authorities want to verify your relationship. For example if your girlfriend gets pregnant in Dubai.

Living together in other emirates

In order of risk of problems from lowest to highest, it looks something like this (in our opinion only):

Police crackdown on unmarried couples living together in Sharjah
Living together stories in Dubai and the UAE
Last update Sunday 08-Mar-2015. Page development 4L 5C.
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