Living in Doha Qatar
Marriage Laws and Expat Marriages in Qatar
Getting married is not a very complicated process in comparison to several other procedures in Qatar. However, it may require few trips to embassies, photocopying, digging out certificates, and the usual passport-sized photographs.
Each country has its own regulations, but you may be required to produce birth certificates and divorce papers, residents permit, passport etc. Also check out about the procedures with your local embassy, as some require 21 days notice about your intention to get married.
General practices for Qatari marriages
A traditional Qatar marriage, during earlier days, was tribal, wherein related families encouraged their offspring to marry cousins or other family relatives, so as to strengthen their tribe. Rarely, they would also be married into another tribe, in order to heal rifts between families. Such marriages were in vogue as families knew the background of the partner.
In a typical Qatari marriage, the groom initially discusses all matters, including dowry with the bride's father. As in some Latin countries, young couples are allowed to meet under the watchful eye of a chaperon. When such issues are agreed upon mutually, the actual marriage is performed by a legal or religious representative. The bride is asked if she agrees to the marriage (in the absence of the prospective groom) and the same question is put to the groom too.
After the agreement, the groom shakes hands with his future father-in-law, and the marriage becomes official, in the presence of two witnesses. The wedding celebrations are divided, with women in one section of the house and men in another. Finally, on the last night of celebrations, the couple meet, accompanied by friends and eventually leave on their honeymoon.
As per Sharia Law, a Muslim man can have up to four wives, provided, he can look after them materially and treats them equally. However, this practice is no longer being followed, as very few are able to afford it, and women are getting more independent and assertive, and refuse to accept such rules. Now, a Muslim woman can insert a clause in the marriage contract, restricting her husband from marrying another woman, for as long as the contract is valid. The wife can also retain her own name after marriage.
Muslim marriages in Qatar are performed at the Sharia Court, located on Al Rayyan Road, near Mannai Ra in the Musheirib area. The Sharia Court here allows marriages of Muslims only. Although marriages between Muslim men and Christian women are permitted by Sharia Courts in other Muslim nations, they are not allowed in Qatar.
A married Qatari Muslim man seeking a divorce can do so by just saying ‘I divorce you’ three times to his wife. He can also rescind the divorce, if this was done in the heat of the moment, but, only if the wife also agrees to it. On the other hand, even if the wife has a good reason to seek divorce, she should go to a court for the case to be heard. The husband will have to maintain a divorced wife, and any children from the marriage, if the wife is unable to support herself. He can, however, claim custody of any sons when they are ten years old. A female divorcee returns to her family, and only few remarry.
Expat marriages in Qatar
Although a Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim man, unless he converts to Islam, the reverse may not be the case. On the other hand, majority of non-Muslim women are often pressurised into converting their religion. Also, it should be noted that in the event of breakdown of a marriage between a non-Muslim woman and a Muslim man, the children are usually kept by the husband in his home country.
Expatriate workers can usually be married in Qatar, provided, they meet the civil and religious requirements here. The Embassy and consulate staffs also sometimes perform civil marriage ceremonies, when certain requirements are met. Religious ceremonies can be arranged, but, only at churches or similar non-Muslim places of worship.
Non-Muslim marriages granted official recognition by the State of Qatar, are Christian Marriages, performed in Churches, registered with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by clergy recognized by the Ministry to perform non-Muslim marriages.
For non-Muslims, a Christian wedding may be the only legal way to wed in Qatar. Certain churches, such as those mentioned below, including the Catholic and Anglican Churches are licensed to carry out such weddings, although each have their own rules, and charge a fee to cover costs.
For a Christian marriage in the State of Qatar, you must, first contact either the Catholic, Anglican, Coptic or Orthodox churches in Qatar, and arrange the marriage ceremony. Following the ceremony, a marriage certificate may be issued. Translate a copy of the marriage certificate into Arabic through a translator, recognized by Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI). Register the marriage certificate and Arabic translation at the Office of Land Registration and Legalization at the office of Ministry of Justice in West Bay. The Ministry will stamp the back of marriage certificate with a registration number, and keep the copy and Arabic translation for its records. For more detail, visit the website www.moj.gov.qa.
Here are the contact numbers of some recognized churches in Qatar:
Anglican Church – 4416 5726
Catholic Church - 4490 1907
Greek Orthodox - 4487 2032
Coptic Church - 5584 0395
IDDCC - 4431 9190
After the ceremony, the Marriage Certificate, together with its Arabic translation, should be registered at the Ministry of Justice, behind the City Centre Mall, then the registration be attested at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the church may carry this out for you for a fee. Newly married couples are also advised to get their marriage documents attested at their own embassies also.
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