Suspension of text messages when women leave Saudi Arabia

The automatic text message service where a text message is send to a man to inform him that one of his ”dependants” is leaving the country is being suspended for the time being. Pending adjustment. So it’s not going away, but adjusted. Maybe they will be going back to men having to sign up for this service instead of all men being warned automatically.

saudi woman

In Saudi Arabia women and children are considered dependants. So if a woman or children, or household personnel, is at the airport in order to leave the country, the husband/father/employer gets a text message that ”dependants are leaving the country”. Now any man would be aware anyway that his ”dependants” are leaving the country because women and children also need a ”yellow paper”, a form signed by the husband/father/son/grandson/any related male, confirming that he allows them to leave the country.

Sometimes the form is not enough, especially if it is a Western woman with children, and the man has to go to the airport to give his consent personally on the spot. Even a very old woman needs male permission, if necessary from a young grandson.

So now the text service, which was made an automatic one in 2012, is suspended. “The system has been suspended due to some observations and it will undergo amendment,” said Lt. Col. Ahmad Al-Laheedan, spokesperson of the Passports Department in comments published on Monday. He indicated that the system could be reintroduced, adding new options.

Many women rejoice of course. And there are a lot of Saudi men who do not like the system either. But most interesting is the reactions on twitter, blogs and in the comments on Arab News. Read the comments in the link provided below!

Reactions are very diverse:

  • Sabria S. Jawhar  ”The notification process should have never been introduced in the first place because it is humiliating for women. It is demeaning to women and restricts their freedom.”
  • ”Without such a system, a woman or a child would be free to come and go and travel abroad without her or his family knowing about it. If such is the case, we will find many of our women and children going abroad without our knowledge.
  • Salwa, another blogger, said that since the aim of the notification system is to provide a good service for families, men should also be included to augment the advantages. “I am sure that many problems would be solved if women were aware of their husbands’ cross-border movements as well,” Salwa said. “In fact, women would benefit from the system much more than men. So please include men and alert their wives about their international departures and arrivals,” she said.
  • ”What is the big issue? As a muslim women we shouldnt be travelling without a mahram anyway except for necessity and if your guardian has already given you permission then whats the big deal that he gets a text
    message?”

What do you think?

read more:

Arab News

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17 Responses

  1. This should be a hot topic! I like the comments you picked. LOL!
    Of course if there are going to be notifications at all it should be for both sexes but in my opinion there shouldn’t be any notifications. If you are in a solid relationship based on love and trust then you should know what your spouse is doing and where they are going. End of story.

  2. Agree Wendy, it is distrust. Whatever the candy-fluff reasons they wind around it, it is really pure distrust of ”their” women.
    How strange it would be to go on a trip abroad without telling ones loved ones? I am convinced that what they are really afraid of is ”their” women and children fleeing the country.
    It’s like the Iron curtain of the cold war, ostensibly for protection, but in reality to stop 80% of Eastern Germany’s citizens from running across the border. As it was many people were willing to, and often did, die in the attempt to escape.

    And why do people want to escape from Saudi Arabia? There might be some improvement necessary in your relationship if you are afraid your property will try to escape, to get away from you…

  3. Very well said, Ladies. I am reminded of a saying: What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Not that it will happen there anytime soon, but equality for all or none.

  4. It has nothing to do whether a couple is love or not. It’s about keeping control over all citizens, especially women, whom the system and males consider weak and can easily be tempted, not only sexually but in all areas. This is why the system is the informant.

  5. The Saudis need to let go of the leash. There is an idea the evil can be prevented but it cannot. Yes, one can limit some things but given the relative wealth and education of society, the ability to control evil (or vice) is simply going away. The wealthy simply leave town, blow off some steam and come back. Many young Saudis are being educated abroad. They cannot miss how different the rest of the world is.

  6. Okay, Ali … agreed that I should have left ‘love’ out of my comment and just left ‘trust’. Too bad that the ‘system’ can’t see that it is the men who are the weak ones. 🙂

  7. The whole premise that a woman needs permission from a man to do anything is insane. Literally insane. The men who thought that up are insane.

  8. This is such a token issue. Regardless of the SMS you still need the guardian-signed document to leave.

  9. Yes that makes a comment like ”how else would the family know where their women and children are?” so idiotic. But I suppose you need to sink below a certain level of intelligence to think it’s a good idea in the first place…

  10. Aafke women have needed permission to do things throughout history. In my lifetime I saw that requirement lifted in Canada for many things such as working, getting a bank loan, etc. I am not saying that it’s okay and only mention it because there is always hope that Saudi will progress as Canada and other countries have done when it comes to women’s rights. Of course I don’t expect things to progress as quickly in Islamic countries and especially in the KSA but we can hope that in the future there will be change.

  11. This is useless, a woman still needs a signed doc right? or maybe I’m way behind saudi tiems, in my hey days there i needed F’s permission to leave and pretty much everything else too.
    They need to do away with guardian itself. for anyone over 18 or a specific agreed on age limit.
    Its simply idiotic and immature to want to track your partner.

  12. @ All
    Actually people have ample time to interfere in the affairs of other countries to enjoy or create FITNA.
    It looks KSA appears to be easy target for that purpose. Every person wants to know the whereabouts of his Partner. Its commonsense.

  13. @sami – If i want to know where my partner is I ASK HIM !!! or he tells me if he feels i need to be informed so as to not be worried. I dont need some strange man at the airport texting me that my spouse is leaving. If i know my spouse is leaving i dont care for the text, If my spouse doesnt want me to know he is leaving i shouldnt … that how trust and marriage works in a reasonable relationship… and BTW why does only the man want to be informed about his partner.. don’t the saudi wives care??? what a bunch of BS> and justification for this BS !!!

  14. Sami, my husband always tells me where his is or where he is going. He does it voluntarily just the same as I do. We have mutual trust on top of that so if for some reason he didn’t tell me or I didn’t tell him it would not be a big deal.

  15. Sami is right. I think Saudi Arabia is too lax on this subject, and this temporary suspension of this valuable public service makes Saudi look only more wishy-washy.

    Although, Sami is wrong about interference from ”The West”.
    The West could be very helpful to Saudi Arabia in solving this problem of women and dependents wandering around without authorization.
    Especially using our Western technology.

    I envisage a GPS tracker implanted in every female and other moving property of Saudi males. This tracker will not only enable the Saudi man to know instantly where his property is at any given moment of the day, but it would also be possible to look back and follow exactly what his property was doing the moments he wasn’t monitoring her personally.
    Where she was in the house, if she spends enough time in the kitchen or is lounging in front of the tv watching reruns of ”Noor”, if she made an unauthorized visit to a neighbour to borrow a cup of sugar, or even worse transgressions!
    There could be a perimeter set up, from a very small one, ”Kitchen to room for prayers”, to, if the owner is unusually flexible, ”House to Mall”, or even for the completely irresponsible mahram, from the ”House to the Airport”. If the property crosses the perimeter set for her by her owner an immediate alarm will be sent to the owners cell phone, and the Muttawa’s, who will send a special task force to catch and detain the woman until her owner collects her at his leisure.
    Special facilities with holding pens could be set up for this purpose in strategic parts of town.

  16. Applause, Aafke!!!!

  17. Love it, Aafke!!! Maybe Sami could help with the implementation of same. 🙂

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