Saudi Arabia: Have the Regulations REALLY Changed for a Saudi Student to Marry a Foreigner?

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It has been brought to my attention that an article recently appeared on the web site maintained for Saudi students in the USA that restrictions have lessened for the Saudi to marry a foreigner while studying abroad.

I have reviewed the article and in my opinion view the comments shared by the Saudi Embassy’s Cultural Attache in Washington, DC to be vague and inconclusive without any changes to existing regulations.

A Saudi man is allowed to marry a foreign woman.  However, she will not be legally recognized as his wife without approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior and perhaps some other governmental organizations.

If the marriage is not approved by the Saudi government, then the foreign wife is not legally recognized as the wife of a Saudi within Saudi Arabia.  That means she could not travel and be with her husband in the Kingdom since it is against the law for unrelated men and women to be together.  Additionally, without recognition of the marriage, she does not receive any of the benefits a legally recognized wife would be entitled.

In my view, the article only reiterates that governmental approval is required and there is a process to follow.  Additionally, a telling statement in the article by the Cultural Attache is his own belief that there are many Saudi women of beauty and intelligence, a Saudi student abroad does not need to seek a foreign wife.

If a foreign woman and a Saudi student choose to go through with marriage without the official approval, it should be with the eyes wide open.  Marrying prior to approval can have consequences and further delay an approval.  Until an approval, which can take years, is granted, the couple may ultimately have to spend significant time apart.

Many Saudi students abroad on a scholarship have a commitment back in Saudi Arabia through their scholarship sponsor which must be fulfilled.  They do not have an option to remain in the United States.  It is not unusual for a Saudi student who has returned home to also marry a Saudi wife, especially if he is under intense pressure from the family.

Not all Saudi students are bad guys.  However, a foreign woman really needs to search deep within her heart AND logic on what is the right action for her.  She may be confident that she knows her Saudi but most of the Saudi students are different in their actions and lifestyle when they are in Saudi Arabia as compared to elsewhere.

My advice as “Mother Hen Bedu” is for a couple to at least get the families (his and hers) blessings before marrying without the Saudi governmental approval.  If a woman knows without a doubt that her Saudi’s family is supportive of the union then I think there is a better chance of a lasting future.

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23 Responses

  1. I find this topic always very interesting especially when the perspective is from a woman’s point of view.

    I wonder what it would be like from a non Saudi man seeking to marry a Saudi woman, given she’s beautiful and intelligent as the rest of the non Saudi women.

  2. “Additionally, a telling statement in the article by the Cultural Attache is his own belief that there are many Saudi women of beauty and intelligence, a Saudi student abroad does not need to seek a foreign wife.”

    HOW ON EARTH do they even know how much beauty there is in Saudi Arabia if all women are covered from head to toe even in the presence of their brother-in-laws? HOW?

  3. LOL @ Reality Check
    He would say that because otherwise he will be spending the night on the couch if u know what I mean.
    I know most Saudis will say that just out of moral support to their fellow Saudi women. But wait till they go to Europe or the US and see the blue-eyed blondes. You can’t compare centuries upon centuries of sexual selection with centuries of inbreeding.

  4. Reality check, brilliant comment.
    All we know, all anybody knows of Saudi women is that they live their breathless lives under a mountain of black cloth, for all we know the majority of them have scales and tails, nobody knows…
    I would say that if you hide something it’s probably because you have something nasty to hide…

    Yasser makes a good point also: These scales and tails could very well be the result of centuries of non-selective inbreeding….
    Actually it’s very likely.
    Saudi men cannot ”select”, they have to take whatever is chosen for them, and they only find out after they signed on the dotted line what they’ve got. And the same goes for the women. One wonders why Saudi men all wear long dresses instead of jeans… To hide the tails?

  5. why Saudi men all wear long dresses instead of jeans…?

    Because it is much easier to let stomach enlarge in a large dress without squeezed it in tight jeans. kabsa is so delicious!

    I am joking of course.LOL!

  6. Ha-Ha! Thank you for liking my comment! I did not even mean to make anybody laugh – it just flowed so spontaneously underneath my fingers as they hit the keyboard this morning. I was actually “scratching my head” rather seriously in a state of total bewilderment as the Cultural Attache’s statement made no sense.

    I am sure that beautiful Saudi women exist but there is no way the public will ever know what they look like and where they are. Except their fathers, brothers and husbands, of course. No wonder the Saudi men fall in love with the women who can be seen rather than the women who can’t be seen.

    I have also heard about a Saudi beauty pageant called “Miss Beautiful Morals”. Can anybody say something more about it? Of course I can google it any time, but an insider’s information will be more interesting.

  7. Miss beautiful morals got a lot of attention. The contested were also tested on things like home care, skin care, scale polishing and tidy tails.
    The winner got a tiara.
    Which i think sounds a bit ”worldly”. Why not a book? On morals, or house cleaning?

  8. Thank you, Aafke! And here is a link to a very detailed article on the pageant from Huffington Post:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/06/saudi-beauty-pageant-miss_n_198103.html

  9. It’s a couple of years ago. I think the photo in the Huffington post is unfair, they were all properly encased in large pieces of black synthetic polyester, and of course they did not wear make up.

    Oh but further down they do show the real contestants.
    I really like that both Shiites and sunnis participate.

    Although I don’t agree that devotion to your parents is a moral good, that would depend on the parents. If your parents sell you into sexual slavery to a 90 year old pedophile I think it’s good not to be obedient to such evil parents.

    Actually I think it’s not at all a bad idea to have a competition for inner beauty instead of some measurements of the perfect figure.

  10. Saudi women are very beautiful although the majority will remain veiled to the world. However, there are some well known Saudi women who have chosen not to veil and their photos are public.

    On Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 9:50 AM, American Bedu

  11. The concept of a morality beauty contest seems absurd and hardly an alternative to a traditional beauty contest. I don’t know how they can judge morality. I assume the contest was a bit of a dud since it doesn’t seem to have been run after 2009.

  12. I think whether it is a “moral” beauty pageant or a more “traditional” beauty pageant that emphasizes external beauty, they are both only highlighting a woman’s use in the home and do not seem to test the woman as a whole person but rather focuses on her “function” as a man’s counterpart. Career-savvy women would probably not be interested in entering either. Why not test a woman’s science, accounting, math, etc. skills? Why not test her physical fitness and intelligence as well as looks and morals?

    One thing I found interesting is that while blond hair and blue eyes may seem exotic, some Arab men seem to prefer dark hair and eyes. I think it really depends on the individual.

  13. I’m dark haired and have dark eyes and when I do dye my hair to blonde, my husband hates it. He prefers dark features and likes it when i tan a little but being Asian, I prefer to whiten my skin…silly but can’t escape the Asian mentality.

  14. Mrs.B it really depends on your natural complexion. I hate it when Arabs dye their hair blonde, especially those who aren’t naturally light skinned. Even the facial features make it look unsuitable. But bring a woman with a typical Nordic facial structure and skin tone, and blonde hair would fit right in. I know beauty is subjective, but scientifically speaking (or let’s say pseudo-scientifically), feminine features are more prominent among Europeans than any other ethnic group. (I think there are some golden facial ratios for femininity) I read it somewhere (I’ll look for the link and post it if I can find it) pertaining to Eugenics and sexual selection where the viking systematically raided villages and chose only the most beautiful women to live as concubines and procreate and executed everyone else. Where beauty was essential for these women’s survival, it also set the standards for European beauty today, which we can see today in Norway and Sweden.

  15. Yasser, I wouldn’t mind having a pair of brilliant blue eyes like the Nordics but as it is God has bestowed me with dark brown eyes but as you said beauty is subjective and interestingly, the Russians and other Eastern Europeans in my university were more inclined to date/marry Asian with dark features. I remembered one of my Russian classmate tried to chat me up and he was staring at me. I asked him what’s up and he told me I had beautiful eyes, awkward but the point is I think the issue is something ‘exotic’ and uncommon is always considered attractive so no wonder some Arabs may consider blondes and fair skinned as beautiful while the Europeans would admire olive skin and dark features. Opposite attracts I guess. It’s funny that you mentioned the European female has more feminine features because my husband says the opposite 🙂 He said his Dutch aunt in law is rather masculine and bigger than his own uncle.

  16. By nature we are programmed to go for ”the exotic”, so people who look very different from ourselves. This is a natural trick to make sure we don’t fall for close family, which would result in inbreeding.

    There is something with pheromones too, most people will not fall in love with cousins because the family pheromones are too much alike which usually doesn’t make the close family sexually attractive.
    So it’s only natural if people are attracted to opposites.

  17. Unlike physical beauty, inner beauty is so difficult to see and measure with the naked eye that this whole pageant is pointless. Oftentimes, people who appear to have beautiful morals are just pretending in order to find favour with somebody. The truly spiritually beautiful people are hard to tell in the crowd of hypocrites.

    Actually, this is a contest that should be re-named to “Let’s see which of you, girls, was the best at pleasing Mom, Dad and society in general”. That’s different. Pleasing others is one thing and being spiritually beautiful is another. Sometimes the most spiritually beautiful (and ahead of their time) have been known to oppose the existing order around.

  18. Correctly put Aafke.

  19. Mrs.B, Of course there are outliers in every sample. I’m speaking of typical features of caucasoids; fine structures such as pointy noses, small cheek bones less sharp edges and long skulls etc…
    There are beautiful women in all ethnic groups thanks to interbreeding, but looking at most indigenous societies like in Africa, the Amazon rain-forests, rural Saudi Arabia who were landlocked, you would understand what happens when you isolate a gene pool for so long,…

  20. My SIL was a beautiful person, inside out, saudi, very pretty ( or atleast it appealed to me 🙂 ) but she was beautiful inside, moral, very helpful, but unless one knew her you couldn’t tell, she protested at the slightest thing 🙂 and in saudi terms of morality was an absymal failure ( got a divorce from an abuser) went against her parents and married outside her tribe, and got was she emotional, she was my other daughter and a regular drama queen. she could weep buckets !!!! and chatter away till my ears fell off. one time after she called me 4 times in sugery i loudly thretened to break her fingers off if she so much as touched that ph again and when i went home she had cake 🙂 she wanted good for everyone and helped people without expecting anything in return. gave a lot of herself and material possesions and thats what made her special. however she would never wint his beauty contest, i wish there was some sort of recognition for people who have less but yet give so much. she would be such a fantastic role model.

  21. @Aafke,
    Agreed.

    @Yasser,
    I believe that the term “caucasians” was derived as a term for people from the caucasus mountains.

    Some native Scandinavian peoples have Asian genetics mixed in and are naturally dark haired.

  22. StrangeOne, are you referring to the Sami people? In the laplands, most tribes there remained in isolation and are said to have originated from the Tibet. It’s pretty much like the Romani people (gypsies) who live all over Europe but originated from Afghanistan.

  23. oh my goodness i love some of these comments man of course saudi men wear there clothing the way they do cause they fat asses and love their khabsa and alll i can say about saudi women is yes they are beautiful all of whom i have met and im a kiwi woman hoping tomarry a saudi husband but its going to be a long waiting game just glad i have family approval. and also on the subject of the men wearing the dresses lol. there is sooooo much freedom they have room to breathe and if you didnt already know the more you squash those wee things up in pants the less likely you are to be able to have children the more free they are the more fertile you are thats fact not fiction and have you seen the size of saudi families. haha not like kiwi families.

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