Saudi Women Marriage to Foreigners
The numbers of Saudi women who marry non-Saudi men have continued to rise in the recent past. Statistics indicate that such numbers are almost catching up with the Saudi men who marry non-Saudi women. However, the issue of Saudi women’s marriage to foreigners has caused much debate in society due to the controversial points of view and stereotypes about Saudi traditions. Marriage family formation in Saudi Arabia is considerably shaped by the new interpretations of the Sharia or Islamic law, possesses a considerable level of influence on the society. As much as Saudi law does not prohibit women from marrying men outside their nationality, the decision and the process of marriage seems to be difficult due to many discrepancies in religious and cultural life. Such a decision demands serious thoughts because of the many requirements that the couple has to fulfill, as stipulated by the Saudi Arabian marriage law. Other than the legal requirements before marriage, the couple has to deal with the issues of citizenship, especially for their children. There is needed to look at a number of issues when it comes to Saudi women marrying non-Saudi men. Moreover, this research also seeks to find out the fate of the Saudi woman’s children when it comes to Saudi citizenship. This work looks at the current legal frame context and the review of the available literature in order to answer the various research questions when it comes to the marriage to non-Saudi men. Furthermore, the aims of this research is to evaluate the pros and cons of the Saudi woman marriages from non-Saudi, to determine if there is an alternative law or to recommend that a legal system could conserve her and her children rights, and last but not least, to find the benefits about the Saudi woman children citizenship.
Central Research Questions
Islamic Sharia and Saudi law authorizes that Saudi women can legally marry men who are Saudi citizens or foreigners; however, there seems to certain dilemmas that this research work seeks to solve. The fundamental questions used in this research are:
Is the Saudi law effective enough to conserve or protect the Saudi woman and her children rights? By stating the two questions of my research:
“Why the non-Saudi men tend to use racism towards their Saudi women?”
“What is the fate of the Saudi female children after her death?”
This research was done with the following aims:
- To evaluate advantages and disadvantages of Saudi women marrying non-Saudi’s.
- To determine if there is an applicable or alternative law or to recommend a legal system that could conserve her and her children’s rights.
- To show the benefits of the Saudi woman’s children citizenship.
This study took the form of a doctrinal research in order to find out some of the underlying traditional components of the laws that govern marriage to foreigners. On the same note, this research based all arguments on legal principles and primary sources in order come up with balanced state of affairs for proper decision-making. A look at the available literature brings out some of the balanced scholarly views when it comes to Saudi women marrying non-Saudi men. The discussion is then done to find out the correct nature of the situation before using the analysis to make a conclusion and the recommendation on the way forward.
Statistics indicate that the number of Saudi women marrying non-Saudi men continue to increase, almost catching up with the number of the Saudi men marrying non-Saudi women. According to Saudi Ministry of Justice, the number of Saudi women who made as decision to choose non-Saudi men as life partners in 2016 was 3,352, compared to the 3,596 of the Saudi men who made similar decisions to towards non-Saudi women. Nevertheless, the ministry also takes of the number of divorce cases that involve Saudi men or women. Statistics also indicate similar trend in divorce contracts in all regions of the Kingdom. In general, Saudi Ministry of Justice registered 133,000 marriage contracts, unfortunately, 40,000 of the contracts were registered as divorces the same year.
The patterns of marriage family formation in Saudi Arabia between Saudi woman and non-Saudi man face a challenge of “a long checklist” that a couple has to go through before the marriage. Under these circumstances, it should be pointed out that while marrying outside their nationality, citizens have to adhere to certain regulations defined by Saudi law. Besides, the future life of the couple can experience cases of domestic violence and divorce (“The Rights and Duties of Foreign Women Married to Jordanians under Jordanian Legislation”). The marriage contract supports the marriage between the people of different countries. The same law is supported by the personal status laws as determined by the Sharia law. The marriage of the Saudi women to non- Saudi men tend to be similar to the Western standards; however, due to the fact that Islam plays a pivotal role of every person, one should allocate time and effort into this matter in order to define an appropriate solution and decide whether marry non-Saudi men or not. Incompatibility in a lineage is the main reason to grant a divorce, the future perspectives based on different emotional, cultural and religious backgrounds, may negatively influence the development of the relationship between Saudi women to non- Saudi men.
The couple of international marriage faces the problem of citizenship of their children. Having analyzed the law system of Saudi Arabia, one may assume that only boys have the rights to apply for the Saudi citizenship when they turn 18. In contrast to boys, girls are given cards when they are 18 years old (“Research report on the problems faced by Saudi Women married Non- Saudi”). These cards declare that they should be treated like Saudi citizens; however, they cannot work in the country in the future. Based on the evidence currently available, it seems fair to suggest that a fundamental problem that confronts many couples during the first years of living together is incapability to manage common activities and duties based on the different emotional, cultural, and legal backgrounds. In addition, one may assume that the main obstacles despite cultural and religious discrepancies include the inability of a couple to pass citizenship of Saudi Arabia on to the children, domestic violence and divorce, and a long period of preparing documents in order to marry legally. It seems relevant to conclude that choosing one’s marriage partner for a Saudi woman may turn in a considerable obstacle with the negative consequences.
Age is also a major factor that defines marriage between a Saudi woman and a foreigner. The Saudi law requires that a woman who wants to marry a foreigner must attain the age of 30 and that the difference between their ages must not exceed 10 years. According to the legal experts, such a limit has been put in place in order to avoid exploitation of the Saudi women. According to Hoda Rashad, Magued Osman, and Farzaneh Roudi-Fahimi, most of the women who marry foreigners are mature and are regarded as ‘tired’ by the Saudi men. Culturally, scholars argue that most of the women who tend to marry foreigners have outgrown the traditional set of the Saudi’s. These women have liberal and can do business in order to support families. On the other hand, the traditional Saudi man looks intimidated by such women who see to be strong enough to stand on their own. Therefore, people argue that at 30, women can no longer be married within the traditional setup of the kingdom. A law that set age limits put unnecessary impediment to the freedom of the women to make own marital decisions, especially after attaining majority age.
It is obvious that more women that are Saudi opt to have life partners with foreigner. The increase in the number is an improvement of the past trends, something that needs applause. As much as the marriage between Saudi women and foreigners is allowed, there seems to be underlying issues that need addressing. Most of these issues relate to the various laws in place that guide the process of marriage and citizenship issues.
Legal Requirements before Marriage
The Saudi government has in place a law that requires women from Saudi Arabia and foreigners to have certain age limits. As noted above, all the women must have 30 years or more in age. At the same time, the difference between the woman and the foreign man must not be less than 10 years. Such a limit sparks numerous debates on the reason for many of the older women getting married to foreigners. Certain traditional Saudi men argue that most of these women who opt for foreigners are ‘expired’. Others argue that at that age, most of these women are too old to be potential wives. However, counter arguments arise from the fact that such women are risk takers and are capable appreciating the differences in other cultures. Cultural differences should be one of the impediments of such marriages, something that such women manage to break through. On the same note, it comes out that most traditional a Saudi man does not stand women with the ability to stand on their own. The lengthy checklist for the foreign men before marrying Saudi women is a serious legal obstacle to the process. One of the requirements is the need to undergo a mandatory medical checkup before by the man. This uncertain process may lead to the cancellation of the process without reasons given. Cancellation can be due to the detection of any of the following: drug abuse, any form of infections and/or hereditary diseases.
Citizenship is one of the major points of discussion when it comes to a Saudi marrying a foreigner. The Kingdom does not allow for dual citizenship, a matter that complicates marriages. In fact, this is point that forms a gateway for the abuse against Saudi women who marry foreigners. As much as the woman does not lose her citizenship unless she chooses the husbands’ country of origin, the law allows her to get back her citizenship upon application. The law allows recovery of citizenship by the woman in case of divorce or return to the kingdom. The complication arises with the coming of children within the marriage setup. Marriage to a foreigner does not guarantee an automatic citizenship to the children unless they reach the age of majority, especially for the boys. In case a child is born to a foreign father and a Saudi mother within the Kingdom, the child will have the right of citizenship at the age of majority, if the child is a permanent resident in the Kingdom and is fluent in Arabic. This case does not apply when the couple living out of the Kingdom.
Pros and Cons of a Saudi Woman Marrying an Non-Saudi Man
In most cases, expatriates in the Saudi Kingdom tend to benefit more from marrying a Saudi woman. To the husband, such a marriage is an opportunity to get the Green Card that allows him to live in the Kingdom, as long as the marriage is valid. The Nitaqat Law allows these husbands to be treated just like other citizens, including having to enjoy certain privileges. This means that employers are likely to admit men who are married to the Saudi women easily. On the same note, these men are allowed to start a business in the name of their wives within the kingdom. To the Saudi women, they remain citizens of the Kingdom, enjoying all the privileges accorded to the women citizens. However, they are likely to lose their citizenship when they take up citizenship of their husbands because the law does not approve dual citizenship. Nevertheless, the woman has the opportunity to explore in other countries in order to advance in different sectors.
On the other hand, the law does not allow them to gain nationality of the Kingdom because of the strict nature of such measures. On the same note, the children of the couple do not get automatic citizenship of the Kingdom, regardless of the fact that the mother is a citizen. This serious disadvantage makes it difficult for such children to enjoy the privileges of citizenship. All children born to the Saudi husband and wife are entitled to numerous privileges that include education, healthcare and jobs. However, problems still arise when it comes to these children born by Saudi women and foreigners. The matters become complicated after the death of the mothers.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Children are the major losers when it comes to the marriage Saudi women and foreigners. This comes from the laws that limit their rights to enjoy the privileges like other children born of Saudi parents. Unfortunately, some of these children have to be registered as plumbers and sweepers in order to be considered back to the country. Such registration denies them some of the educational and healthcare privileges they need. Many legal minds argue that some of these stringent measures are in place in order avoid abuse of privileges. It is a fact that certain individuals can easily abuse them; however, a law should ensure that a mechanism is in place in order to allow the children to gain citizenship just like what happens when a Saudi man marries a foreigner. It looks discriminative to confer preferential treatment to the children born by Saudi men and women who marry foreigners. This will ensure that children have the security whether such marriages end in divorce or not. A legal framework will help in identifying how to go about such cases when they arise.
Eleanor Abdella D, Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid
Resistance, ed. Sanja Kelly and Julia Breslin (Freedom House 2010).
Hassoun A & Estatie L, When Saudi women marry foreigners (BBC News 2016) from
<http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-36448328> Accessed 28 January 2017.
Hoda Rashad, Magued Osman, and Farzaneh Roudi-Fahimi, Marriage in the Arab world
(Population reference bureau 2005).
Interior Ministry, Saudi Arabian Citizenship System.
<http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/3fb9eb6d2.pdf> Accessed January 13, 2017
James Emanuel, Discriminatory Nationality Laws in Jordan and Their Effect on Mixed Refugee
Families, (Student Research Papers 2014).
Liv Tønnessen, Women’s Activism in Saudi Arabia: Male Guardianship and Sexual Violence (CMI
 Eleanor Abdella D, Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid
Resistance, ed. Sanja Kelly and Julia Breslin (Freedom House 2010), 2-5.
 James Emanuel, Discriminatory Nationality Laws in Jordan and Their Effect on Mixed Refugee
Families, (Student Research Papers 2014).
 Interior Ministry, Saudi Arabian Citizenship System, 2-7.
 Hassoun A & Estatie L, When Saudi women marry foreigners (BBC News 2016), 2.
 Ibid., 1.
 Hoda Rashad, Magued Osman, and Farzaneh Roudi-Fahimi, Marriage in the Arab world
(Population reference bureau 2005), 5-13.
 Ibid., 6.
 Liv Tønnessen, Women’s Activism in Saudi Arabia: Male Guardianship and Sexual Violence (CMI
Report 2016.01), 9.
 Ibid., 21.
 James Emanuel, Discriminatory Nationality Laws in Jordan and Their Effect on Mixed Refugee
Families, (Student Research Papers 2014), 4-12.