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14 February 2019 10:00 am

Is it okay to celebrate Valentine's Day in Qatar?

Sonkie
Sonkie
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Valentine’s Day (V Day) is the one day of the year where people are encouraged to tell their loved ones how they feel through gifts—with flowers and chocolates on top of the majority's presents to give.

Widely-celebrated annually every 14th of February, the Western tradition has been panned by some as a "shallow definition of showing affection" with critics saying that the concept of 'making your loved one feel extra-special' shouldn’t be restricted to just February 14th.

If you're a resident of Qatar and has no idea if it's okay to wear red on the 14th and buy a bouquet of flowers for your special someone, then you might want to scroll through for your ultimate guide on the Dos and Dont's on this rather polarising occasion.

Valentine's Day in Qatar

A brief history

According to Wikipedia, Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Valentine, is an annual holiday recognised by Western Christians. It became known as a day of love around the 14th century and is therefore celebrated as such around the world.

With a background that stems all the way to the Ancient Romans, this holiday was very different from what we know and love today.

With that said, V Day isn't rooted in any Islamic value but instead from Christian ones.

Buying flowers for Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day celebrations in Egypt.

Why isn't it a thing in this part of the globe?

While Qatari authorities choose not to give a reason to their V Day limitations, they've previously stated that any non-Islamic events (including Christmas) should not be celebrated in Islamic countries such as Qatar.

A netizen who goes by the name of Dr. Su'ad Ibrahim Salih wrote in a thread:

"Hence, we Muslims ought not to follow in the footsteps of such innovations and superstitions that are common in what is known as the Valentine’s Day. No doubt that there are many irreligious practices that occur on that day, and those practices are capable of dissuading people from the true meanings of love and altruism to the extent that the celebration is reduced to a moral decline."

Teachings from Islam require all Muslims to love one another all over the whole year, and reducing the whole year to a single day—as per them—is totally rejected.

Muslim women celebrating Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day celebrations in Gaza.

V Day restrictions in Qatar and in the Middle East

In 2016, the now-defunct news provider website Doha News wrote that hotels in Doha were reportedly contacted by the Ministry of Interior and told not to exhibit any overt V Day displays including hearts, arrows, flowers, petals, heart-shaped desserts, and greeting signs

Hotels including the Intercontinental Doha, the Torch and the W Doha even advised guests that their tables would not have any special decorations.

The Sheraton Doha, on the other hand, said it would be decorating tables but avoided large ornaments elsewhere in the restaurant and hotel.

Moreover, in Pakistan, a country that remains to be a deeply traditional Muslim society, the youth is being discouraged by authorities to stop the practice of giving cards, chocolates, and gifts to their sweethearts to mark the occasion.

The same story goes in Iran where minors are seen celebrating even though authorities have banned such as part of 'decadent Western culture' since 2011.

A small kid looking at stuff toys
Valentine's Day celebrations in Yemen.

What would you do if someone greets you "Happy V Day" while in Qatar?

Despite the conflict of interest, everyone's free to greet each other nicely every February 14. So if you stumble on someone who's kind enough to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day, just smile but don’t return it.

For a progressive country like Qatar, greeting as a sign of cultural respect is usually one way of showing tolerance—and it's not a bad thing at all.

Is there a possibility for Qatar to become more open with V Day celebrations in the future?

The answer is YES. The State of Qatar is currently made up of approximately 195 nationalities and it's not going to be long until it opens up to more Western cultures and traditions especially once the 2022 FIFA World Cup materialises.

At the moment, various hotels in Doha are offering deals that are V Day-related and you can find some of them by clicking HERE.

Helipad Valentine's date in Qatar
Courtesy: Fraser Suites West Bay Doha

Five fun facts about V Day in Qatar and the ME

  • It is not a public holiday in any country
  • Some of the countries that banned V Day at one point include the likes of Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, India, Pakistan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia—where it is taboo (forbidden) to show public displays of affection meaning the concept of Valentine’s Day doesn’t coincide with their ideologies
  • V Day is being celebrated in many East Asian countries with Singaporeans, Chinese and South Koreans spending the most money on gifts
  • February 14 is one of the most celebrated events in the Arab kingdom of Egypt despite the country’s at times conservative culture and the fact it's largely a Western tradition. The Egyptian government body, which founded to represent Islam and a center for Islamic legal research, even announced for the first time last year (2018) that V Day is not anymore forbidden in Islam
  • 5-star hotels in Qatar such as Marsa Malaz Kempinski located at the Pearl, Qatar offered last year (2018) a $21,696 (QR79,000) V Day package involving a Rolls-Royce pick up, a one-night stay at the royal suite “with romantic decorations,” a private beach dinner, a couple's massage, and a white gold ring with 32 diamonds
February 14 in Qatar

In conclusion, celebrating Valentine's Day should be alright as long as nothing illegal or immoral is done—in or beyond the vicinities of Qatar.

Did this article of ours give you a better understanding of Valentine's Day celebrations in Qatar and the Middle East? If yes, drop us a line in the comments and also, don't forget to like and share this article—it keeps us going!