Wondering if speed dating is allowed here? Here's our guide on the laws and what you need to know
17 January 2019| Last updated on 31 March 2019
Single in Dubai and looking to meet someone?
Whether you're new in Dubai or have lived here for years, you'll know that Dubai has a really happening night life. Undeniably, Dubai has a great host of popular nightclubs and bars that are great venues to meet people of all different nationalities.
As a result, dating is not uncommon in the city. In fact, there have been speed-dating events held over previous years for expats to attend.
It's a social activity that's commonly found in many countries, but here in the UAE, it's understandable to be cautious before engaging in speed-dating.
Why? Well, Dubai is in the UAE, which is an Islamic country. Islamic rules are enforced here. The rules governing dating in Dubai are very different to those seen in the UK, USA or Europe.
Thus, it's important you're fully clued-up before participating in speed-dating events here, or dating in general...
What is speed-dating? How does it work?
Speed dating involves a group of single people who gather at a cafe or similar venue. Armed with a name-tag, a scorecard and personality, individuals are paired up and their first date begins.
During one speed-dating event, people typically meet between 7 to 15 other singles, and each "date" lasts no longer than 4 to 5 minutes. Women always remain at their own tables, whilst the men proceed to the next table once the bell rings.
Following each speed date, participants mark on a card whether they would be interested in meeting their date again.
Is speed-dating illegal in Dubai?
While Dubai is by far the most liberal emirate in the GCC, there is a code of acceptable behaviour when you're in public that is expected of us all. And Arab traditions in dating are much more conservative than Western norms, so don't assume that what is acceptable at home is appropriate in Dubai.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon and inappropriate behaviour can land you in jail, with the possibility of deportation.
As we've mentioned - the UAE is an Islamic country, and thus dating rules and etiquette in the country are governed primarily by Islamic Sharia law.
As per Islamic Sharia law, it is illegal for men and women to date in the same way as Western cultures, unless they are married.
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Muslim men and women should not enter into one-on-one intimate relationships, nor should they spend time alone together so they can "get to know each other" in a deep way before selecting a marital partner. Rather, in Islamic culture, pre-marital relationships of any kind between members of the opposite sex are forbidden.
It is also illegal to live together unmarried in Dubai, or have intercourse out of wedlock.
Consequently - if you ask if speed-dating is illegal in Dubai and UAE? The answer would be yes. However, these laws are not stringently enforced in Dubai, unless someone complains to the police. So it is wise to tread with caution when it comes to speed-dating, dating and living together in Dubai.
The laws governing speed-dating in Dubai
While there isn't an exact article of the UAE Penal Code that prohibits dating and speed-dating for that matter - anyone who is found guilty of inappropriate behaviour in these scenarios may and most likely receive a punishment as per the first point of Article 312 of the UAE Penal Code.
Under the Crimes Violating Religious Creeds and Rites section of the UAE Penal Code, Article 312 states that those found guilty of unsuitable or prohibited behaviour "shall be sentenced to detention and/or a fine whoever perpetrates" a crime that is of "offence to any of the Islamic sacred beliefs or rites".
Should an individual be guilty of this crime that has been perpetrated publicly, "the penalty shall be detention for a minimum of one year in addition to a fine."