It’s the most natural cycle in the world, you meet each other, fall in love, decide to move in together, agree to emigrate to the Middle East to turn a quick buck while you’re both still young, get all the documentation ready and realise that you must get married (to each other) to satisfy Qatari Law and before you know it, you’re in! (Marriage not Doha). A fully fledged married couple, ready to embrace the adventure of living in the middle east, but perhaps not entirely ready for the married bit. Between the conditional proposal and the hasty ceremony, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind, the reason for this beautiful union, make a few quid in the Middle East and enjoy the convenience of living together as you do so.
There are a million excuses and placates used, ‘we were going to get married some day anyway’, ‘it’s only for going over there, doesn’t mean anything’, ‘we’re so crazy, let’s get married to move to the Middle East and see where this crazy adventure takes us’. Yeah right, eight years later, you’re still in Qatar, a couple of kids, a couple of mortgages and a couple that are not particularly happy together.
Unlike the western world, ‘living in sin’ is not an option in Doha and sex outside of the marriage is illegal in Qatar, different ironically, to Ireland, where sex inside of marriage is extremely rare. If you and your partner want to move to the Middle East, the only option (unless you fancy doing a visa run to Dubai every 90 days) is to bite the bullet so to speak and get a ring on your finger before boarding that flight.. Incidentally, for those interested, a ring is not nearly sufficient proof of ones dedication to another or matrimony but you indeed will need to have proof i.e. an attested marriage certificate, appropriately stamped in ink, blood, sweat or tears not satisfactory. After having deftly dodged the marriage bullet for years prior you walk straight into the first registry office you find and sign 50% of your heart, earnings and potential happiness away for good.
And there it goes, the going away party and the wedding party are held within the same week and the couple, happy to begin a new adventure, disembark the plane as Mr. and Mrs.
All seems fabby until the adventure in the Middle East gets a little stale and with it, the marriage. Whilst adopting all the usual attributes of a marriage, kids, frustration and lack-lustre pallor, the initial umph, that goes a long way for the momentum of a marriage, (experts say at least 5 or 6 years), may never have been there. More and more expats in Doha are seeking separation but it’s not as easy as it is at home. Dave can’t just move out of the house and into a flat over the video shop down the street, and take the kids for McDonalds and the cinema on a Friday night, not when you’ve emigrated to the Middle East. 9 out of 10 wives, are sponsored by their husbands, so without her husband’s sponsorship, she cannot stay. MEOW! The reverse is true of husbands sponsored by wives. So basically, the couple cannot split up and both live in the same country. This is where it gets complicated :
- Husbands stays in dusty Doha, wife goes back to wet Wicklow and both are delighted to live miserably, separately. Albeit, this situation makes Dad’s movie night very complicated, involving flight paths and air miles and not popcorn and malteasers like he may have planned.
- Both move back, and live separately. Dads movie night is easy peasy, if he had the money for the movies that is.
- Both stay in Doha, together, for the sake of the kids, for the sake of not spending a third of the year either on a plane/skype/Family Circuit Court and for the sake of peaceful albeit unhappy life together.
So before you rush blindly into seeking a marriage certificate just to make your move to Doha a little smoother, think about it, is a visa run to Dubai really that bad? or would you prefer to Marry in Haste, Repent in Doha.