Hearts, flowers and romantic messages are off the menu for some establishments in Qatar after being told they are not allowed to celebrate Valentine’s Day tonight.
Several hotels said they have been verbally contacted by the Ministry of Interior and instructed not to exhibit any overt Valentine’s displays in their rooms or their restaurants.
Speaking to Doha News, a representative of a five-star hotel said that includes no hearts, arrows, flowers, petals, heart-shaped desserts or “happy Valentine’s Day” signs.
While restaurants are still honoring their guests’ dinner reservations, couples who were planning to spend a romantic evening at establishments including the Intercontinental Doha, the Torch and the W Doha are being advised that their tables will not have any special set-ups.
Others, such as the Sheraton Doha, will be decorating tables but avoiding large ornaments elsewhere in the restaurant and hotel.
Valentine’s Day is based on the feast of St. Valentine, who is recognized by Western Christians, and became known as a day of love around the 14th century.
It is celebrated widely in the West and is also catching on in other parts of the world, including China.
While Qatar authorities did not offer a reason for the latest Valentine’s decision, officials have previously said that non-Islamic events should not be celebrated here.
However, not all hotels contacted by Doha News said they received a message about the holiday, and many were still advertising Valentine’s Day meals and special events on social media and on their websites.
Among the offerings is a QR79,000 package by Marsa Malaz Kempinksi on the Pearl-Qatar.
For that price, couples get a one-night stay in the royal suite with “romantic decorations,” a private dinner in a beach gazebo, a couples’ massage, travel by Rolls Royce and a “one of a kind” white gold ring with 32 diamonds, according to the hotel’s website.
Meanwhile, Valentine’s Day plans are still going ahead at other hotels and restaurants around town, including Al Mourjan on the Corniche, which is offering a three-course dinner with “romantic ambience, candles and a rose for the lady,” a restaurant employee said.
This is not the first time holiday plans have changed at the last minute in Qatar.
In December, the then-Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs told all nurseries in the state that they were not allowed to hold Christmas parties or celebrations.
And in late 2013, a number of hotels who had been planning Halloween nights said they had been contacted by CID and, citing local customs, had been told that party-goers would be banned from wearing masks.
At the time, one hotel said that it had been told Halloween costumes would be allowed in its club but not in the establishment’s public areas.