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Living together unmarried in Middle East

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Goosestepandgone, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. Goosestepandgone

    Goosestepandgone New commenter

    Hi all,

    Myself and partner are looking at moving to Middle East for the 2018/2019 academic year. We are engaged but not due to be married until 2019. Whilst some research has obviously came up with information Sharia law and not being lawfully married. But wondered whether this was extensively policed in more western complexes/communities or whether it was simply a clean cut yes/no. Would be great to hear about other people's experiences that have been in the same boat.
    Thanks in advance
  2. rod901

    rod901 New commenter

    What do you mean by "extensively policed in western complexes/communities"? Do you really think the police are going round saying "are you two married"? i THINK not. I would think that you have to submit a notarised marriage certificate when you apply for the job and for the visa to prove that you are married. The only way is if you both obtain jobs separately in the same city. But no policeman is going to pop round asking questions once you are there. It's a 2 faced land the ME (Dubai and the UAE anyway).
  3. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    It's not something I would want to risk. You just have to look at some of the stories of foreigners being arrested in Dubai to know it's not a smart thing to do.
  4. Penny10p

    Penny10p Occasional commenter

    I have known couples get round this in various ways. One way is to get jobs separately and get two lflats but just live in one. Another way is to take the housing allowance that many schools offer in lieu of an apartment and then combine allowances to rent one apartment. This can be advantageous financially if you can get a flat for the amount of one allowance and save the other. Many schools turn a blind eye to couples living together but you can't be open about it and there is always bit of a risk. Police don't come knocking on your door to check, but I have heard of instances where nasty neighbors have reported couples who appear to be living together.
  5. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    "Myself and partner" is incorrect. The reflexive pronoun should not be used in this way.

    As for co-habiting in the ME, some wise and practical advice has already been given on this subject. ejclibrarian has summed up my thoughts very well: "...it is not a smart thing to do."

    Perhaps it is important to note that the Middle East is a bit of a geographical expression. What might be okay or tolerated in one country in the region might not be so regarded in another.

    It is not a good idea to be intending to move to this-or that-country, while at the same time planning to break the law as soon as you get there. Don't you think that people who come to the UK should respect and abide by the laws of Britain? Now you might say, Goosestepandgone, "Well, I am not a Muslim, so why should I respect the beliefs of another religion?" Why, indeed?

    Yes, I would agree with Penny10p that it is most unlikely that the Police or the Mutawwa will come knocking on your door to check. But it is quite possible that the students in class will find out that you and your boyfriend are shacked up / living in sin / co-habiting (or whatever term you care to use). Would a Muslim parent be happy if his or her daughter's teacher were known to be breaking the law in this way? Could you please tell me, Goosestepandgone, what you are going to say to an angry Muslim mother who insists on her daughter being removed from your class, as she does not want her daughter to be corrupted by your immoral influence? Yes, it is true that quite a lot of Muslims in the ME are pretty modern and liberal and relaxed about things. But some aren't.

    Having taught in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Qatar, I can tell you that some unmarried western couples do indeed live together. It does happen, just as there are foreigners in the UK who break the law. Sometimes they get caught. Perhaps your school will also have an Islamic Studies department, but maybe you are not too worried about what your Muslim colleagues will think of you (and what they will say about you).

    Last, but by no means least, what exactly are you going to tell the principal of any school in the ME who is thinking of giving you a job, Goosestepandgone? "Please give me a job at your school, even though I don't really care if my boyfriend and I are breaking the laws of this country. Yes, I would like to work at your school, please, but I am not really bothered about upsetting my future colleagues and the parents of my students."
  6. Penny10p

    Penny10p Occasional commenter

    I should qualify my earlier post by saying that I only have experience of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. From what I hear, they are more relaxed than other countries.
  7. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    It takes half an hour to get married in England,problem solved.
    576, Isobeleh and Helen-Back like this.
  8. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    Cohabitation is a pretty dumb thing to do in the Middle East if you aren't married. It's complete hypocrisy, of course, as are many things in Middle Eastern countries; homosexuality is rampant, prostitution is widespread, alcohol is everywhere under the counter, it's okay for men to beat wives and servants, slavery (kafala) is fine. But bonking your intended? Noooooooooooooooo.
    [This comment/section/image has been removed for breaching our Community Guidelines/Terms and conditions]
  9. Alldone

    Alldone Senior commenter

    Sound advice from @the hippo, and agree with @february31st . If you intend to get married then get married now - it's not worth taking the risk. You could always do a registry one now and a church/full on one afterwards. People do live together unmarried in the Middle East. When I was in Saudi in the 80's I found my UK girlfriend a job in the local International Hospital. I lived with her in the hospital housing, sharing the house with another girl from the hospital. I used to have to park my car a fair distance from the house as it had my company's name on the side. I was a lot younger then and didn't worry about things, plus where I worked was more relaxed than in the Capital.
    Kartoshka likes this.
  10. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    What really worries me is OP's attitude to her parents, assuming that she does indeed have parents. Surely no sensible mother or father would want her daughter to go off to a Muslim country, if the daughter is planning to co-habit?

    It was a few year ago now, but I seem to recall the tragic story on the TES of a young teacher who went off to the ME. She unwisely posted on Facebook some pictures of herself in her bikini and one or two people at her school became aware of what she had done. The result? She took her own life. You might think that the ME is all very modern and things have changed a lot. Maybe they have, on a superficial level.
    stopwatch likes this.
  11. Penny10p

    Penny10p Occasional commenter

    Hippo, do you have some information about the OP that the rest of us are not party to? Do you have some personal grudge against them, that makes you feel the need to preach at them? I may be missing something but I can't see from their post why you would assume that they are female, lack integrity and have no regard for the feelings of their parents. What makes you think that their attitude would be "Please give me a job at your school, even though I don't really care if my boyfriend and I are breaking the laws of this country. Yes, I would like to work at your school, please, but I am not really bothered about upsetting my future colleagues and the parents of my students." ? I see nothing to suggest this. Couples that I have known in this situation have been extremely discreet about their situation and been at great pains not to upset colleagues or parents. People break laws in all countries. Have you never copied a movie or used some software illegally? Have you never broken a speed limit? I hope you are indeed of flawless character that you can be so judgmental of other people.
    lardprao likes this.
  12. Teachallover

    Teachallover Occasional commenter

    Why risk jail and/or deportation (or worse!)? If you want to live together in ME there are two choices: Get married beforehand or don't go... Risk this at your peril.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
    stopwatch likes this.
  13. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    I think that the key point to make from the above is that, yes unmarried couples do live together in the ME, but God (or Allah) forbid that the police/authorities do find out because if they do you are totally stuffed. Totally stuffed could mean a variety of things from being sacked, getting deported, getting jailed or being castrated/killed depending on which ME country you live in.
    Yes, you might get away with it, but is it worth risking the consequences of not getting away with it? get married and be done with it (BTW marriage is fun)
    I have lived in/experienced 4 ME countries.
  14. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    No, Penny10, I do not have any personal grudge against Goosestepandgone. You are absolutely right - "she" could indeed be a "he". (I do not even know the OP's name, so either could be the case.) But my point about the girl's parents worrying about her living with her boyfriend is still a valid one, I think.

    All of the posters on this thread have said the same thing, namely that co-habiting in a Muslim country is not a smart thing to do. The consequences might be very bad. My old friend stoppers makes this point very clearly. Is that being "judgmental" or is that kind and constructive advice?

    Yes, Penny10, I have been a naughty old hippo on lots of occasions. (How did you know?) It's not fun when you get caught, whether you were discreet or not.
  15. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    This statement is wrong on so many levels. Just dig a little below the surface and you will see the maids falling from skyscrappers and the value of cheap human labour and life.



    If you cross a local from these countries you are in serious trouble and don't expect the British Embassy to help in any way.
  16. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, february31st, I would definitely agree with you that British Embassies are very good indeed at taking quite a lot of money from you, in return for putting an official-looking stamp on some piece of paper. Otherwise they are about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

    Mrs. Hippopotamus and I do have some happy memories of our years in the Middle East. If you are careful and listen to good advice, then maybe nothing will go wrong. But rubbing up the locals the wrong way is never a good idea, wherever you are in the world, and it makes life more difficult for the rest of us.
  17. truth_seeker12

    truth_seeker12 Occasional commenter

    Stupid thing to do and risk being fined so much that you cant pay it off or being sent down for it. Simply get married earlier.

    There are groups that actually go round and check how people dress and if they are married then report people so be very careful.
  18. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Threads like these are making me run to the local corner shop to buy a bottle of beer and a ham sandwich. I can walk out the shop eating and drinking and checking all the ladies walking by in their shortshorts.
  19. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, we do have a lot of ladies in shorts here in southern China. And why not?

    But we are talking about the Middle East, where any kind of nudity is not acceptable to many. I have had lots of Muslim friends who are pretty relaxed, laid back and tolerant people. But when things go wrong, the consequences can be horrible.
  20. 576

    576 Established commenter

    I knew a couple that did just that. They were engaged and living together, date set for big destination wedding, then got jobs in Abu Dhabi, popped down the registry office before flying out there and still did the big beach wedding.
    snowflakesfalling and Alldone like this.

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