Qatar is the only GCC country that continues to implement male guardianship laws for female travel after Saudi Arabia lifted restrictions on Friday.
Saudi Arabia announced on Friday breakthrough changes to the Kingdom’s guardianship laws, allowing all citizens over the age of 21 – male and female – to travel freely without a guardian’s approval.
In Qatar, guardianship rules still limit women’s ability to travel. According to the Qatari Ministry of Interior’s website, single women under 25 years of age require a male guardian’s consent to travel outside the country.
Qatari men can also apply to the courts to prohibit their wives from travelling. “Married women are entitled to travel without permission irrespective of their age. In case the husband doesn’t want her to travel, he has to approach the competent court to prevent her journey,” the ministry lists as another condition on its website.
For Qatari males, the Qatari interior ministry says that “no permission is required for those who are 18 years old or more as they have reached the legal age of puberty.”
Under Qatar official e-Government Portal Hukoomi, instructions for citizens to renew their passports only specifies that Qatari male citizens over the age of 18 can apply for it themselves and their dependents. The website also states that they may apply on behalf of unmarried daughters and sisters, as well as for unmarried nieces.
In Saudi Arabia, Friday’s decree gives women the right to apply for and obtain a passport independently. Other changes allow women to register a marriage, divorce, or child’s birth and to be issued official family documents. The decree also stipulates that a father or mother can be legal guardians of children.
Neither Bahrain nor the UAE operates guardian systems for adult female travelers. Kuwaiti women gained the right to travel without a guardian’s permission in 2009. Omani women are free to travel, but married Omani women need approval from their husband to receive a passport.