Saudi Arabia: The Love Story That Almost Was


Lori is an American who attended University abroad.  During that period she met a fellow student from Saudi Arabia.  Lori has agreed to be interviewed by American Bedu about her relationship with a Saudi student and how it has impacted on her and her life today.


To begin with Lori, where did you study abroad?  What factored into your decision to study abroad as compared to the United States?

I studied in Manchester, UK. I had originally intended to start working after receiving my undergraduate degree. However, it was difficult to get a job in my chosen field at the time due to my location and the global and national economic situation among other reasons. I really wanted to travel abroad, specifically to Spain. In order to qualify for a professional type of work visa, I’d need a Master’s or two years work experience, I believe? Attending university as a student was the fastest way to legally work in Europe. Although I have found some since then, at the time I couldn’t find any programs related to my major in Spain. Since I was applying last minute, I decided to go with an English-speaking country. I could have gotten a Master’s in the United States, but it would have ended up costing about the same and would have taken twice as long. Plus, I wanted to experience something different than what I’d already experienced.

Did you feel like an international student considering that you remained in an English speaking country from the West?  What adaptations and adjustments did you make?

Yes!!! The university system is completely different from what I was used to, although the classes are somewhat similar. The weather is a lot different. The food is different. I missed Mexican, Cajun, Italian, and Thai food the most, although later I found a good Thai restaurant. It really bothered me that the fruits and vegetables weren’t as fresh as what I was used to. On the plus side, though, I got to taste a lot of great Indian/Pakistani food. The first time I went grocery shopping, it took me maybe 2-3 times as long, and I still didn’t find everything I was looking for. The grocery stores are laid out differently, and the food packaging is much different. (Note: Baking soda comes in a white plastic cylindrical container with a blue plastic label in the UK.) Most people in the area take the bus and/or walk to and from the grocery store, so I switched to cloth reusable bags because they’re easier to carry. There’s a lot of more subtle differences, such as when you bump into someone you say “Sorry” instead of “Excuse Me”. I still am readjusting to this now that I’m back home. Most of my friends were international students as most of the graduate/postgraduate local students live off-campus. Out of the British friends that I did make, most were 1st or 2nd generation. So, I not only had to adapt to another culture, but multiple cultures within that as well. I felt most comfortable around my Arab friends because they reminded me the most of home.

In addition to students from Saudi Arabia, you also made friends with other international students.  Tell us about that.  How easy was it for you as an American student abroad to meet and interact with the other international students?  Where were these students from?  Did you all “hang out” together and if so, what did you do?

It was very easy for me as an American student to meet other people. In my building, I was known as the “American girl”. Once someone said, “You know the American girl, too? EVERYONE knows the american girl!” LOL. I am generally a friendly person, and most international students are very interested in the United States. I have some great friends that I made from there. These students were from all over. The largest groups were from Spain, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. However, some were from other places, such as Turkey, Pakistan, Palestine, UAE, Qatar, Slovakia, Latvia, and Ghana. Then, of course, my roommates and classmates were from Italy, Romania, England (ironically), China, Taiwan, India, Tanzania, Malayasia/Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. I am sure I am leaving some out. Sorry! We didn’t all hang out together, although I tried once to mix the various groups, but it didn’t always work out. I am not sure what to say about what we did. Sometimes, we’d go out dancing (I love ballroom dancing), sometimes we’d go and eat food, and sometimes we’d go out for sisha and tea (although I don’t smoke). Sometimes, we’d meet at someone’s place and enjoy music and talk.

How much did you know about differing cultures, customs and people of differing faiths before going to study abroad?  How has your knowledge and understanding of bi-cultural relationships and differing cultures and customs changed?

I am not sure how to answer this question. I’ve been exposed to various cultures growing up, but not quite to this extent. I wasn’t raised in what I would call a “traditional” environment, so I’ve had to adapt to other cultures throughout my life. My parents took what they liked best from a variety of cultures, and then used that to determine how they wanted to raise their children. People may not have always agreed with their decisions, but it works for us. Even as a child, I had to adjust to differences in culture between various places we lived within the US, and also differences between the home and school environments. There were times when my decision for lunch and dinner was what flavor of ramen I wanted because that’s all my parents could afford at the time. Sometimes, we couldn’t even afford milk unless we borrowed money from someone else. At other times, we’ve been able to eat out as much as we want and have lived quite nicely. In some ways, I feel like I’ve already lived two completely different lives. In the past, I was also exposed heavily to both Mexican and Korean cultures, though I mixed with people of varying cultural backgrounds that are too many to name.

Although I had studied other religions some, I did not know nearly as much before life in the UK as compared to what I now know about Islam. I am more open to various ways of living and am more comfortable with my family’s chosen lifestyle now than I was before. Knowing more about other cultures has made me more comfortable with who I am. I hope that answers your question?

When and how did you meet the Saudi student who became a focal point in your life?

This is a long story. The first time (or one of the first times) I met him was at a shisha and tea place. I was there with one of my friends, who I had met through one of my flatmates (also Saudi). There was a belly dancer at the restaurant. I was wearing a long sleeved-shirt and jeans at the time, but I really wanted to belly dance because I’d missed dancing so much. I did, and got a lot of compliments! The Saudi student who became a focal point for me happened to be there at the time visiting with our mutual friend. I guess that’s more or less how we met. This was in October, I think. I was in a long-distance relationship at the time with someone back in the US, so we were just friends until the following May when I was no longer in my LDR.

In what ways did he stand out from the other international students and especially from the other Saudi guys you knew at the University?

He listened well, we seemed to agree on more issues, he was patient, and more open-minded than some of the others. He was very respectful and kinda quirky. (smile) He was kinda cute, too! ;)

What was your relationship like?  What kind of things did the two of you talk about?  What activities did you do together?  Were you known to his friends?  To his family?

At the beginning, it was great. He helped me during a difficult time and asked me out very respectfully. We talked about a lot of different things; just whatever happened to be on our minds. He told me that I’d “never have to be alone” and that he “hoped we’d be together forever”. I was known to his friends because they were my friends. It’s kind of hard not to know people that you already know. LOL. I was not known to all his friends, however. I also know that he made it clear to others that “we love[d] each other”. In other words, he basically told his friends not to flirt with me. Also, he tried to hang out with me and our mutual friends separately. A brother of his knew about me, and one of his cousins did, but that was it. We’d do things like get coffee/tea together, go out to eat, and go spend time with friends. Later on, before he went home for Ramadan, he started acting more distant. We were both under a lot of stress for different reasons. I think that’s about when we started having problems.

Was it easy for the two of you to communicate to each other?  Do you feel like you and he understood one another?  Why or why not?

I think we had a lot of problems with miscommunication. There were times when he would tell me something, and I would think he meant something different, and vice versa. Then, we’d get into an argument and discuss it all. In fact, when we broke up, we went over everything in the relationship, worked out all the communication problems, and got along much better after that. The biggest difference, as far as culture goes, is that I am used to people telling me exactly what it is that they want whereas he would infer things sometimes, and I didn’t always understand. Personality-wise, we have a lot of differences. I do not like to be told what to do. I like to know what’s going on. However, I try to be very accommodating. He would try to handle everything so I wouldn’t have to worry about it, but it ended up making me worry more because I didn’t know what was going on. Also, he kept pushing me to teach English in Saudi Arabia because it pays well. However, I don’t care how much it pays, if it’s not what I want to do then it’s not what I want to do. I don’t mind living in KSA, but that’s not what I want to do while I’m there.

If I’m correct, at one point, you were pretty sure he could be “the one” in your life.  When and how did that begin to change?

It began to slowly change. At first, it was lovely. He treated me so well like I mentioned. I am still deeply attracted to him, or at least I was the last time I saw him. Around the time he told his brother about me, he became more distant. I wanted to make it work but he wasn’t meeting me halfway. He wouldn’t forgive me for something I said to him, and kept acting wishy-washy. I truly believe that (and I could be wrong) he was afraid to tell his parents about me. He had a hard time trusting me when I asked simple things about his life in Saudi (he thought I was asking too many questions too fast), which was what caused me to doubt him in the first place. Right before he went home for Ramadan, he started acting completely different. I honestly think he is an okay guy overall, but he would do better with a more traditional arranged marriage. He seems to want to be able to go out with his friends regularly without her (whether or not they’re Saudi- as in he has his friends and I have mine), doesn’t want to have to explain differences in culture, and wants to make all the major decisions for himself and the woman. However, he also wants to shower his partner with gifts, words of love, spend time together with just her, listen to everything going on in her life (he’s a great listener), and (from what I heard) helps the women in his family with household chores. He wants her to be happy and will listen to what she has to say. He is also a very devout Muslim, so it might help for him to be with someone else who is equally as devout in their beliefs. I think it would make life a lot easier on him if he chose someone that his family helps pick for him. Plus, when there are arguments, the woman will have more support because her family will be near. All of my friends were telling me for months to dump him because he didn’t deserve me. This had nothing to do with his nationality and everything to do with how he treated me.

Do you think you could ever see yourself at some future point with a Saudi man (as a partner/husband)?  Why or why not?

Right after my relationship with this Saudi, I didn’t think I could handle dating another one. I didn’t want to have to go through the torture of making an inter-cultural relationship work. I was worn-out emotionally and mentally from all the different cultures I’d been around. I just wanted to be at home for a while. Now, I would say that I could see myself with a Saudi man. I have recently met one and am doing an Arabic-English language exchange with him. So far, I seem to have a lot more in common with this one. We are both more down-to-earth, open-minded, and independent people. This one is also a lot more giving than the Saudi I dated in the UK.  I think we have more in common as far as how we grew up, so I think that helps some, too. Based on the striking differences between these two examples, as well as among my Saudi friends, I am not against marrying a Saudi. To be honest, nationality is not as big a deal to me as who the individual is as a person.

What characteristics did your Saudi have whether in his personality or actions that you feel were unique because of his nationality?

He is very caring and protective of his family. His family is very important to him, and he wants to make them happy- especially his mother. He implies things more than I am used to, and I think this is partly because of the culture. When asking me about going somewhere, he’d mention a place. Then at the end, would say something like “Would that be alright?” It took me a while to figure out that him elaborating about a place was his way of asking me if something was okay or not. Also, he couldn’t stand it when I raised my voice at him when I was angry. He would want to discuss arguments in person in a more quiet voice rather than get into a big argument.

How do you feel your understanding of Saudi Arabia and its culture, customs and traditions has increased as a result of your own relationship with a Saudi?

I think my understanding has increased as a result of the relationship because I took a deeper interest in the culture, customs, and tradition. In some ways, I’d say my understanding increased in spite of being in a relationship with a Saudi. The Saudi I was in a relationship with did some really weird things (which is part of what I liked about him), so to be honest I’m not sure how much of it was simply his personality and how much of it was shaped by his culture, family, etc.

What do you think are essential facts for a woman to know if she is involved with a Saudi?

Essential facts are:
1) First and foremost, that Saudi students on scholarship are not technically allowed to marry foreigners while studying abroad. Furthermore, the age limit established (though I am having a hard time finding a link to the actual Saudi government website stating this) is 35 years old in order for a Saudi citizen to have a marriage to a foreigner recognized by the government. Please check out this link to one of AB’s older posts:
http://americanbedu.com/2008/05/28/what-you-need-to-know-about-saudi-students-outside-the-kingdom/
Additionally, I’d recommend reading Tara Umm Omar’s blog, “Future Wives and Husbands of Saudis” and other related blogs on the subject. I’d also recommend reading this:
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_931.html It’s information compiled from experiences US citizens have had in their marriage to Saudis while in Saudi Arabia. Although each person’s experience will be a little different, I think it brings up some major points to consider. I’d also check travel warnings on the US embassy’s page to see if there are any special travel advisory warnings for US citizens (or whatever your nationality is, check with your own embassy).

2) The majority of Saudi students go back home after graduating from university.

3) It is difficult to get a visa to KSA. It is nearly impossible to go to KSA as one wanting to visit the country (excepting family, hajj, and umrah visas). My understanding is that you have to somehow go through a travel agency which falls under the heading of business visa, and you are only allowed to go to specific locations with a tour guide on a pre-determined route. It gets very complicated very fast. However, if you’d like to work there, then there are some opportunities to work in KSA for limited time periods (such as 1-2 years) depending on what your experience is in. Most of these opportunities for women are in medical and teaching related positions.

4) Once inside the Kingdom, if your marriage is not approved by the government and you are seen out in public together by the police, then you can be punished according to law. There is separation of men and women within the country, and a man is not allowed to be with a woman he is not related to. Women, even those from “Western” countries, are expected to dress conservatively in accordance with the law of the country. Yes, women, this means no string bikinis in the hot, summer heat! ;) (Unless of course, one is wearing an abaya over it! j/k j/k)

5) As expanded upon in the links mentioned above, it can literally take years for a Saudi’s marriage to a foreigner to be recognized by the government.

6) If and when your marriage to your Saudi is approved by Saudi government, then he becomes your mahrem. This basically means that in certain legal situations, you will require his permission (or at least his signature) in order to do something. However, I’ve heard of situations where if the man doesn’t want his wife to work, then he has to pay her what she would make working for her to stay home. I’m not really sure how normal this is as I’m still learning about the culture myself.

7) Women cannot legally drive in KSA. Furthermore, there are not really any driving regulations there, resulting in a high number of driving-related deaths.

8) Chances are that if your marriage is approved in Saudi Arabia, and you later divorce after having children, the custody of the children would most likely be awarded to the Saudi male.

Additional advice I’d give is as follows:
1)  Not all Saudis are alike. In fact, the differences can be quite striking. If he does something that seems really weird, chances are that it’s him and not a cultural thing.
2)  If he acts like a player, sounds like a player, then chances are he is a player. Some are. Some aren’t. Use your judgment. As a whole, I’d say that most aren’t, but then I’d also say that many would be hesitant to deal with the issues of marrying someone from another country.
3) Many plan to move back home because they miss their families. However, a few are open to living abroad.
4) If he can’t handle an inter-cultural relationship, then it’s best to end it unless you plan to change for him (which I don’t recommend). The same can be said if you can’t handle an inter-cultural relationship. They aren’t easy, but can be well worth it if you meet someone you don’t want to live without.
5) Be realistic about the lifestyle you want. Ask about life in Saudi Arabia, what his family is like, etc. Talk to others from there, both men and women, to get a more realistic perspective. KSA is undergoing massive change right now, so I imagine life in 20 years will be a lot different there than what it is right now. However, there still is a lack of legal rights in some situations for women. It is important to feel confident in your significant other’s ability to take care of you and make sure your needs, including those relating to independence, are met. If you really love each other, I say go for it. As with most relationships (but even more so in inter-cultural relationships) it takes open-mindedness, perseverance, and love on both sides. If you want to stay in the US/some other country, be realistic about that to both you and him. I know some people will disagree with me on this, though. It’s important that both of you respect each other.
6) If either of you are unhappy now, no matter how much time you’ve already invested in the relationship, you need to ask yourself if this is going to change or not. If it’s not going to change, break up with him. I know this sounds like a “duh” thing, but it took me a few months to figure this one out. Think of it not so much as giving up as learning a valuable lesson.
7)Learn as much as you can about Islam since it is such a large influence on the culture, people, and country of Saudi Arabia. Also be aware of differences between the different sects of Islam, and how the Saudi Arabian government chooses to interpret Sharia Law.

—I can’t stress this one enough: Know that the laws in KSA are strict about approving Saudi marriage to foreigner!!!— There are ways around this law that I have heard of, but it’s going to be difficult if the Saudi guy is younger than 35 years old. One compromise I thought might be nice is living in the UAE and/or Qatar. These are nice, American-friendly countries that represent more of a compromise between the USA and KSA.

You have since graduated and returned to the United States.  Do you and your Saudi remain in contact?  Why or why not?

This is a tough question to answer. My Saudi at one point made me promise that, even if we couldn’t be together, we would have to “never leave each other alone”. He told me that he loved me like he loved this one girl that he had gone out with for a couple of weeks before she went home to her country. It was “destiny” that she went home, because she met the right guy within a month of her going home. So, when we both went home, he said it was our “destiny” to not be together. There was also one night before we left the UK where he told me this, tried to set me up with another guy, then got mad when I told him I was through with guys like him. So what does he do? He comes to my place and waits outside –in the below freezing temperatures for a good half hour- because he told me he “never leave me alone” and he was going to keep that promise. o_O?? I really don’t understand this, but neither did anyone else that I mentioned this to. We ended up talking through it and almost got back together.

Anyways, even after I went home he wanted to keep his promise to teach me Arabic by talking on Skype 3 times/week. He’d get mad whenever I was late signing on, but was okay signing on late himself. (This type of thing happened throughout our relationship.) I had heard that he had told our mutual friends that he was going to look for a wife this year. I realized then he wasn’t serious about me, and even if he was, he wasn’t telling me that. I didn’t want to go through the rest of my life with another person making decisions for me. I needed to separate myself from him to help me forget him and so I told him something I knew would upset him. So, I broke contact with him. Later, he messaged me on Skype just to argue with me. I thought maybe he wanted to try being friends again now that I was over him, but he was understandably mad at me for some things I had told him. So I’m not even sure why he contacted me. I think he just wanted to blame me for everything so he wouldn’t feel guilty for treating me poorly, but I could be wrong. I think he’s going to just “forget me” now. I am kind of apathetic to the whole thing now. Amazing, that the two of us could come to this when he is someone I used to think of as my soulmate and the sexiest man alive. I guess that’s life for you. :D

How do you think Saudi men are different because of their nationality?

I am not sure how to answer this because I tend to see people more as individuals and deal with them as individuals. The Saudis I met didn’t seem so different to me than being around a bunch of people from any other country. I think they appreciate the freedoms in the UK more than the ones they had back home. They all seem to like children and love their families. Almost all, if not all, wanted to move back home after graduation to be near their families. Most of them also seemed to miss their home culture after a while, too. I guess this is true to what my mom told me: “There are things to love and hate about every place you live. The key is to focus on the good things about the place”. They’re good listeners, and treated me very respectfully. They didn’t flirt with me quite as much as some of my other friends tried to, so I felt more comfortable around them

How do you feel about Saudi Arabia as a country after having had a relationship with a Saudi man?  Are you more “pro” or “anti” Saudi?  Please explain.

Knowing more now, I’d say I’m more pro-Saudi simply because I’ve learned more about the place. I have a lot more respect for King Abdullah whereas before I didn’t know enough to comment. There are things about the culture I absolutely adore, like how close family is there. The men do their best to treat their family, especially the women in their lives, really well. I like that the family spends a lot of time together because my family does, too. My parents got a lot of criticism from others for choosing to support their children after we turned 18. I still live at home not because I couldn’t make it on my own, but because I enjoy my family’s company and it makes good financial sense. This would be quite normal in Saudi Arabia because families spend more time together there (from what I have heard). I love that I finally found a type of coffee I can stand to drink. I love learning about the traditions of Saudi Arabia because they are in some ways so different, yet in others so similar, to what I am used to. Most of the Saudi people I’ve met are very caring and kind. I know there are some perceived problems with the government system that people are quick to point out on here, but these things are changing faster than most people realize, I think, and for the better. I believe there’s a lot of opportunity in Saudi Arabia right now because there’s a lot of growth right now in the country and a lot of changes being made. I think it would be a lot of fun to work there as a personal fitness trainer (for women, obviously, possibly in the home at a reasonable rate), fashion business owner, and/or dance teacher. However, I think it would be fun to do these things a lot of places, and I’m not quite sure how well any of these would work there. I’d have to look into all the legal stuff if and when I decided to do it. I would also want more experience first in these industries before doing so. Chances are that I might just end up working for a few years in KSA as an expat. I really don’t know where life is taking me, but it’s sure been an interesting ride so far! J

Who has to sacrifice more when there is a relationship between a Saudi man and Western woman?  Please describe and explain the sacrifices.

I think it depends on the two people involved in the relationship. I think that if the relationship works out for the best, neither has to “sacrifice” more. Life is a series of choices we make. We make one we think is best for the time and place we are in. In this way, we are constantly “sacrificing” one thing for another. So I’d say that when you decide to spend your life with another person, you are giving up some things in order to gain something better. Just make sure you choose wisely.

When two people choose to be in a relationship with each other, they are agreeing to make compromises for each other. Sometimes, the “Western” woman will make more compromises, and sometimes the “Saudi” man will make more compromises- the same as any other relationship. For example, depending on where they choose to live, one or both will be compromising to live further from family. They may both have to stand up against their families’ wishes if and when they decide to marry. When it comes to parenting (if the couple decides to have children), then they will have to work together to deal with all the issues as they arise such as religion, sleep schedule, food, etc. When it comes to working, one or more may have to choose a field other than the one he/she is used to working in simply because of job availability in a given region. When it comes to household chores, it will depend on what the couple decides together. I really don’t see it as being all that different than being in a relationship with anyone else, other than learning (possibly) another language, religion, and culture- which would be required from both sides. One culture is not better than another. They are both unique and come with their share of good and bad. I think inter-cultural relationships have the potential to result in something beautiful because there is a wider range of experiences to use when making decisions, especially ones regarding parenting. However, this requires both people seeing that there is good and bad in both cultures and being open to mixing the two together no matter where the couple may live. Anyways, that’s my opinion.

Any additional comments you’d like to add?
To be honest, I’m not sure what to say. I’m expecting that many people will disagree with me and tell me how I’m wrong and Saudis are all evil or the government is or something like that. However, I am not going to say that because that’s not what I believe. That hasn’t been my experience. And while I wouldn’t have moved to Saudi Arabia with my ex-boyfriend because he’s not as independent as me and is more likely to give into family pressures rather than stand up for me, not all Saudi guys I’ve met are this way. If and when I happened to marry a Saudi, I hope that I’d trust him enough to move to Saudi Arabia with him if that is what we decided was best for us.

Thanks Lori for taking the time to respond to these varying questions!

 

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73 Responses

  1. “Devout Muslims” don’t engage in dating. But, thanks for sharing your story and I hope all works out for you. I’m glad you see the country and the people in a positive light.

  2. Safiyyah,
    Thanks for clarifying the part about “devout Muslims”, and thanks for your kind words.

    All,
    I also want to say sorry for any typographical errors. Under the facts question, #8 keeps showing up as a “cool face”, so I am sorry for that.

    Since my experiences were based on what I heard and saw, it would be nice to know how typical my experiences were? If there are any misconceptions I have, I would appreciate it if someone would correct me. Cheers!

    I apologize if I offended anyone by anything I said. I shared mostly because I hope that my experience might be able to help others somehow.

  3. No Lori, I will not disagree with you and tell you how your wrong and Saudis are all evil or the government is or something like that.

    I personally would like to applaud you for your bravery.

  4. Lori…

    I am almost positive I know who you are (blogonym) and I want to say that I feel really relieved and happy to see the growth you have gone through since first getting to know you. Thank you so much for sharing your story and most of all I am so happy to see that you had a cool head and saw that this man was not for you. I think you ultimately saved yourself a lot of heartache. I am amazed at how far you have come in growth/knowledge. All the best!!!

  5. i love ksa becouse ksa is our beloved prophet,s country…and i like thers laws becouse laws send by my grate Allah

  6. KVS,
    Thanks! :) I just hope it helps at least one person. If so, it’s more than worth it! :)

    Oby,
    I am sure you do, too. (smile) In the beginning, let’s just say that I had a lot to learn! I think I saved myself a lot of heartache, too. Thanks hun! *BIG hug*

  7. why does it have to feel that the saudi guys that we are/were involved with like they are/were our soulmates? coz that’s exactly what i felt with my ex and guess what i also thought he’s the sexiest man alive haha. i applaud you for moving on and yes, saving yourself from a lot of heartache.

    honestly, i myself can say that the saudi friends i have are really nice people.

  8. saudi men that date women will never marry them only use them beware if he wants to marry he will in the very begining not after he used and tried you

  9. Khalid,
    What in particular do you like about KSA and its laws? Is there anything you like more about KSA when compared to other countries? Why? Sorry if I am asking too many questions. I’m just curious! :)

    Ixara,
    I am sorry you had to deal with anything like what I had to deal with. :/

    I am sure it is different with every couple, but for me it was that I felt safe with him in the beginning and he promised me so much. (He once said, “I hope we can be together forever.”) The sexiest part I think just comes also from being comfortable around the person. Let me just say that I have a lot more respect for a guy if he is honest with a girl upfront. Unfortunately, I think in some cases, the guy isn’t honest with himself upfront. LOL

    I have noticed, irrespective of culture, a lot of guys and girls want the beginning romantic phase of a relationship to last forever, so when it fades they think the “magic” is gone and it’s time to move on. In reality, though, this “honeymoon” period is just the beginning phase of a relationship. I really wish people would be more practical sometimes. For me, I’d rather have no romance period and just a lasting, practical, comfortable, committed relationship with no drama. Romance can always be inserted at a later date. IMO, it’s just marketing.

    To be honest, I think if the situation was reversed and Americans were going to university in KSA and it was hard for them to bring their significant others home due to law and family pressures, a similar phenomenon would happen (only in reverse, of course, with Americans leaving behind significant others and children in KSA). Makes me wonder how the all the Saudi ex-boyfriends would feel if the situation was reversed and it was their sisters, cousins, etc. being left behind?

    Yes, the Saudi people overall do seem really nice. :)

  10. *”To be honest” should be “To be fair”.

  11. Thanks for sharing and I agree, I think you’ve saved yourself a lot of headache. From how you describe him I think your journey together might have been a very difficult one.
    Regarding the marriage permission, we just got ours approved and my husband is 29 yrs old (I took a younger man lol) :))
    So there are exceptions to the rules. I wrote about it:

    http://blueabaya.blogspot.com/2011/03/saudi-marriage-permission-success.html

  12. Thanks Laylah! :) I’m wish you the best in your marriage! :) Congratulations to you and your husband! I honestly tried to describe my relationship the best I could without being too biased, but that’s a bit difficult to do sometimes. And thank you for the link!

  13. All,
    I know this is off-topic but I came across this link on how the Saudi fashion house Femi9 is planning to take part in celebration of the 100th annual International Women’s Day celebrations by honoring women during the month of April: http://www.tradearabia.com/news/MEDIA_194814.html I think this is totally awesome!!! (Not to mention a good promotional campaign for the company.) <3 Does anyone know of any other businesses in KSA that are doing the same? I wasn't quite sure where to put this information at….

    Oh, and to all my fellow women: Happy International Women's Day! :) (Just found out it's today.)

  14. laylah
    i read your bog. congratulations on the marriage permmission!
    you mentioned a medical reason for your husband, i was wondering what it is, and why it would be a positive or negative issue. one of my kids has the sugar. you don’t have to answer if you wish. i’m just wondering/concerned on this matter. thanks

  15. oops, blog.

  16. Sorry but these stories are getting old! I couldn’t even finish this one!

    These girls either marry (or date) the jerk Saudi man and end up with a broken heart. And because they have been enlightened so much from their “experience” with the jerk they feel the need to tell the world about it. BORING!

  17. @Hmm,
    I never said I was enlightened from my experience. I just was sharing my experiences. I learned some about the culture and the country because I chose to. I have actually mentioned that I wish that people would clarify any misconceptions I had. I was hoping it would start a conversation not about my relationship per-say, but about the Saudi culture itself. I also thought there were some really funny moments that I had mentioned, too.

    Although I think my ex-boyfriend has some naive views on some things and may not always choose wisely, I don’t think he’s a completely bad person. If he was, I wouldn’t have ended up in a relationship with him in the first place. I will be the first to admit that there are “jerks” in every culture, including the American culture.

    I like to write and share experiences. If someone were to go to the UK, then I’d try and help clear up any issues. If someone were going to move to the US to certain areas, I’d recommend which neighborhoods to live in. I believe in learning not only from my mistakes and choices, but those of others as well. That is why I chose to share my story.

    Sorry if it’s too long. >_< I like to write! :) I am honestly considering writing a book about my life and the weird things that have happened to me.

  18. Hi Lori,

    I’m glad that you found wisdom in this painful experience, and that you shared your story with us! I think you were very honest in what you wrote, and I admire the fact that a bad experience with a Saudi didn’t cloud your judgement on Saudi Arabia.
    You are also very good in writing, so maybe you should really consider writing a book! You might help a lot of people with it :)

  19. Well if I may say so myself, we’re kind of sweet, romantic, generous and giving. I’m talking about Saudi men here. Most of us really do treat our ladies right, despite the horror stories you might hear…Having said that there are those who change once they come back to the home land, but this doesn’t have anything to do with the people he loves, it doesn’t mean he loves them any less, it’s just there are certain constraints that society put on us, and sometimes, sadly, we have to abide by them.

    I’m so happy for you Lori, your positive attitude is extremely contagious, your bubbly personality is overwhelming, and although your first experience did not turn out the way you wanted it, you didn’t turn into a hater like many of the commentators you find on this blog.

    And to all, Saudi Arabia might not be Utopia, but it certainly no Hell on Earth.

  20. ‘it’s just there are certain constraints that society put on us, and sometimes, sadly, we have to abide by them’

    You mean like forcing you to have 4 wives? lol

  21. @ Lynn,

    If you’re trying to be funny, you’re failing miserably. No one my dear “Hater” is forced to have 4 wives, and actually very few do. Your information is lacking and rather distorted, I have seen a pattern through most of your comments, and they all originate from deep hatred toward Arabs and Muslims in General and Saudis in particular. Keep on barking, because hatred only engulfs those who hate the most.

  22. Yep, deep hatred, that’s what it is.

    Anonymous_Saudi, are you denying that one of the problems that Muslim women have is that their husbands choose to have more than one wife?

    Can you then perhaps expand a bit on what kind of constraints that the society puts on a Saudi man that might force his behavior to be something other than ideal?

  23. ‘and they all originate from deep hatred toward Arabs and Muslims in General and Saudis in particular’

    But seriously, really? Perhaps you can show a quote or two of mine that reflect that? I bet you could find UMPTEEN quotes where I say that I judge every.single.person as an individual. You will find quotes where I have said that I correct people when I hear them they say derogatory or incorrect things about Arabs and/or Muslims. And you will find quotes where I say that there are some Muslims that I LOVE with ALL my heart and I will love them until the day I die. So don’t EVER say that I have a hatred for Muslims!

    What I think about ISLAM is a whole ‘nother matter! Do not be foolish enough confuse the two.

  24. @Goldenraindrop,
    Thanks! :) I’m not sure how much my experiences would help others, but it would at least be extremely entertaining! (Like this one time some of my friends and I dug a hole at the beach since we forgot to bring the materials to make a sand castle. LOL)

    @Anonymous_Saudi,
    Thank you for your well-thought-out comment and compliments! :)

    “Well if I may say so myself, we’re kind of sweet, romantic, generous and giving. I’m talking about Saudi men here. Most of us really do treat our ladies right, despite the horror stories you might hear”
    - I can agree with this. Although I think a lot of men in various societies may be this way, I think Saudi men seem to value the romantic part of the relationship more and seem to go out of their way more to make sure the woman is happy and her needs are met. I think this last part may have something to do with the value of interdependence vs. independence within the culture?

    “it doesn’t mean he loves them any less, it’s just there are certain constraints that society put on us, and sometimes, sadly, we have to abide by them.”

    -Is this in reference to social and familial pressures to marry within a certain group of people, whether that be within a particular tribe,group of tribes, tribal vs. non-tribal, country, religion, etc? I am also aware that many Saudi men want to (and are expected to) return home after finishing at university. Many would not want their beloved to have to deal with adapting to Saudi culture since they are aware of the differences between the two cultures and how hard it may/may not have been for them to adjust to another culture.

    As far as remaining positive, let’s just say that I’ve had my share of disappointments in life, but also my share of unexpected good things, too. Growing up with less makes me more appreciative of all the things I do have now. :) Part of the reason I think my parents are more lenient with me and my siblings now is that we have already had to work hard when we were younger, and so now that my parents have more they help us out more, too.

    @Lynn,
    From what I have heard from others, there seems to be a lot of complexities in the social network in KSA, and while it may not seem that way at first, there are a lot of pressures that are put upon the man in the society. He is influenced by family members, friends, work colleagues, and society in general. He is expected to marry well, get a good job (and retain it) so he can support his (future) family well, and make sure that all the women in his family are well taken care of. Sometimes, his university major (and thus career path) can be influenced by the society, too, based on what I have heard. Please keep in mind that whoever he marries, his family (or the women in his family, at least) will most likely be spending a lot of time with. I do not know if it works this way in Saudi or not, but sometimes the eldest son is expected to settle disputes in the family among aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. too. Maybe Anonymous_Saudi can explain better and correct me if I am wrong?

  25. @Lynn,
    Out of all my Saudi friends, I think I know of only one case where a family member of his had taken a second wife, let alone 4 of them!

    I can think of far worse things than being a second wife, too. However, if and when I do marry, I hope I am the only one! :) Why any person, male or female, would want the hassle of being in a long-term, committed relationship with more than one person, I do not understand. I think one is more than enough for most people.

    The overwhelming majority of Muslim men I have met only want one wife, and believe that there are only very strict circumstances where taking a second wife would even be allowed.

  26. ‘The overwhelming majority of Muslim men I have met only want one wife’

    LOL of course they would say that! :-) But seriously, you have met a Muslim man that admitted to you that he planned to have more than one wife?

    It doesn’t matter whether they ‘have’ the wives or not, it’s that they CAN and they DO. And just because I can think of something far worse does not make a bad thing ok for me.

    If you search this blog you will find lots of discussions about multiple wives in Saudi and you will see that those ‘strict circumstances’ are not a big consideration.

  27. @Lynn,
    I have met a wide variety of people, so yes, I have met one who wanted more than one wife. We used to tease him about it, too. (I have met a Christian who felt polygamy might be okay in certain circumstances, too, ironically.) My friends are honest with me, especially when it comes to answering questions I may have about their religion. I was talking in general when I mentioned my Muslim friends as they all come from very diverse backgrounds and countries. The majority, as I said, only want one wife. They were being honest with me. Some feel they can have more than one wife if they treat them both equally, and see this as being possible. Others believe that it is impossible, and therefore not really allowed. It depends on the individual, how he was brought up, etc.

    Yes, I do realize that a few Saudi men will end up taking a second wife later and do not really consider the way in which it would be allowed in Islam when doing so. They are basically disrespecting their wives. I have read those discussions about multiple wives, and no I don’t think it is right.

  28. Thanks for sharing this interview! Best wishes, Lori!

  29. Suzanne,
    Thanks! :) I’m glad you enjoyed reading it!

  30. No woman wants to be a wife in a polygamous marriage. No way no how. There is a very large trend right now in young Muslim women who are forbidding their husbands from marrying another woman in their marriage contract. Simple matter dealt with legally in the eyes of religion. If you don’t want it, you don’t have to stand for it. My contract is explicit in this and breach of this grants me cause for divorce. Sure, my husband can marry another woman, but only when and if he is divorced from me. And I’m Muslim and married to a Saudi. Instead of women complaining about it, why don’t they actually do something about it. Irritating.

  31. Irritated, the problem comes when you decide to divorce your husband, as per your agreement, he gets custody, and complete control over your kids over 7 yrs old. Hmmmm? Decisions, decisions. Leave the rotten bastard for breaking our contract and perhaps never see my children again or just suck it up and stay with him part-time and try to make the best of it so that you will be able to be with your kids? hmmmmm… what to do, what to do?!

  32. @lori –

    Sorry i mean no disrespect , neither am i trying to belittle your love or what you had to give up but this statement annoys me..

    ” Many would not want their beloved to have to deal with adapting to Saudi culture” — makes no sense, he plans to go home, plans to marry someone who can adapt to his culture, plans to settle amonsgt the family and settle disputes then why one arth doesn’t he plan to avoid Women who dont fit into this mold !!!! I mean is it really so hard to say to yourself, ” i cna marry only a saudi girl back home – hence i should not have an affair and fall in love with someone outside these parameters “…

    This baffles me, and annoys me that women accept that he has to go, leave them , yet they carry on with him when he’s here knowing he’s going to cut and run.. whatever on earth happened to self-worth.

    If i were serious;ly dating/ sleeping /having a relationship with someone i would expect this to lead towards marriage/commitment/staying together and building a future , not that he will have to go home since that’s his culture !!! — maybe i’m just plain old-fashioned. I hope to god when the time comes my daughter holds whomever she’s dating to a much higher standard.

  33. Gia-I would rather keep that private but it falls into the category of chronic illnesses.

    Regarding the second wife I agree with Irritated, why do women complain about it but they didn’t put it in their marriage contracts??
    Setting the muahkar amount very high could help in the dilemma of divorce in case of second wife.

  34. In Saudi it doesn’t count in the contract. They toss it out in court and say you can’t take a man’s Islamic right. Plus you will lose custody if you are foriegn. For that matter he can send you out on an exit only VISA.

  35. @Radha,
    I understand your point and agree with you. I am just mentioning what I have heard some Saudi guys tell me, more or less. Many (possibly most) of my Saudi guy friends did not enter into a relationship while at university.

    To be fair, though, there are a lot of people from both (all) cultures who have a hard time adapting to other cultures. Most people that I have met think that their culture is the best and base all other cultures from their point of view. So with this in mind, I could see how the differences in culture could cause problems later. If both people aren’t willing to tough it out through the learning curve of adjusting to each other’s culture and individual personalities, it’s not going to work. I am also aware that many people are okay with casual relationships. This really isn’t me, but I do have friends that are this way.

    I also don’t think very many people understand that when it comes to relationships on a timeline (e.g. students studying at university), one has to work past the romance stage and start working through all the things like where to live after graduation, how to tell the families and when, what living/working arrangements will be made and how to get legal permission, etc. If you really want a relationship to work, you have to also look at the practical side. I tried to do this with my ex, but he didn’t understand why I was “rushing” things.

    As much as I cared about my ex, I don’t think I could have lived with him in KSA if we had stayed together because it would have made the problems we had much worse and it would have likely ended in divorce had we gotten married. He wasn’t willing to move away from Saudi Arabia or deal with being in a long distance relationship for a year or two because I wasn’t a priority for him, so what can I do? Forgive him and move on with my life.

  36. I do appreciate the added information and points brought up about polygamy, marriage contracts, etc. but I don’t know enough to comment on the legalities. Thank you all for sharing! :)

  37. If the man I loved would just pack up and go home to marry a ”pure girl” and dump me, I would rip his heart out and burn it.
    And dance on his dead body.
    I would not feel sorry for him.

    Nice interview btw, I enjoyed reading it and the comments.

    Although it is perfectly sunnah to put the ”no more wives” clause in your marriage contract, I heard it before what Sandy said: anything like that is dismissed immediately in a Saudi court. Listen to Sandy!
    Maybe in other countries such a contract might stand a chance, but I never believe it would in Saudi.

  38. You’re right Aafke, it would be dismissed by Saudi courts, which is why I do not live in Saudi and I will not live in Saudi (because Saudi Arabia practices a very version of Islam that serves the appetites of their uber-religious old sheiks and men in general). And Lynn, you’re wrong. You see, women have to use their god given brains to protect their own interests in every way possible. Islamic marriage contracts function as full blown legal prenuptial agreements in American courts. With this in mind, not only do I have equal right to divorce my husband through talaq, but I also receive full custody rights of my children regardless of the age. The only thing my husband gets is half of the household belongings that were acquired during our marriage. Marriage contracts have been honored and upheld in courts around the world. I know of cases here in the US, in Lebanon, Egypt, and even UAE where the stipulations the women made prior to marriage were honored. Seriously, women can watch their own butts if they’re smart and the decision to live in KSA (which will never rule in favor of a foreign woman) must be considered v-e-r-y carefully.

  39. well done!

  40. Irritated, I was talking about in KSA. In the US he can’t marry another wife, no matter what even if you said ok, and you can initiate a divorce whether you have a contract or not or even whether or not you have a ‘valid’ reason. Who gets custody of the kids depends on many things but you will most likely have to share unless you can prove that he is unfit or something.

  41. But we are muslims Lynn (and whether anyone disagrees with the belief system is completely inapplicable here) and we follow the tenants of our beliefs. SOOOO with that in mind it is important even for American Muslim women to use their brains. A marriage doesn’t have to be documented in the court system in order to be considered a valid marriage legally in Islam. There is a blogger who lives in Canada married to a Saudi (she is the first wife) and he married his second wife Islamically. Its legal in our religion with or without a marriage license and certificate. I’m not talking about legal spousal rights because obviously the second wife has none, but its still a valid marriage in Islam. And with the thought in mind that I follow my system of beliefs, even though I can legally get a divorce anytime I please under American law, the divorce must also be legal under Islam. A friend of mine divorced her husband and her contract (in the US) had the same custody clause mine had and the judge awarded her custody under the prenuptial agreement terms. Perhaps this can vary depending on the judge, but that’s my experience. I am simply giving advice to Muslim woman on how they can protect themselves and follow the laws of Islam at the same time because ultimately (if the woman is a Muslim) she will care very much about what God thinks (as will her husband).

  42. Aafke,
    This was not about him going home to marry a “pure girl”. He didn’t really think in terms of that as far as I could tell. It was more related to having to talk it over with his parents (i.e. confrontation), I think, and some problems (different views on life, etc.) in our relationship but I could be wrong.

    I don’t see a reason to stay mad at him or try to get revenge. It’s just going to take time and effort that I can use for more important, healthier things. Besides, there are plenty of guys out there that are a better match (and better catch….LOL) for my personality, so I’m content now. I choose to see it as a learning experience.

    But yes, I did love him enough to stay with him and work through all the difficulties had he wanted to make it work. However, I have been told that I put too much effort into trying to make a relationship work. I can honestly say I am a bit confused about relationships now, but hopefully in time I’ll end up in one that works out for me. :)

  43. @Irritated, Lynn, and Sandy,
    Thank you for commenting! I believe you all brought up good points. Thank you, Irritated, for explaining the religious side of the marital contracts and why you chose to have yours drawn up a certain way, live outside KSA, etc. I hope it will help other females when entering into a relationship with a Saudi and/or Muslim man.

    @Anonymous_Saudi,
    I really hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable with my questions. I am hoping to find out more about the culture myself, and promote understanding between the two places (KSA and USA). I am also trying to get a better idea of why people act as they do in certain situations. But then again, people all over the world do weird things because they are individuals.

  44. @Aafke,
    I almost forgot to say thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed reading the interview! :)

  45. Lori, my comment was not actually about your relationship, it was more about all the other girls we have seen here whose boyfriends did lie to them and yet didn’t really dumped them, and then they keep on feeling ”sorry” for him and keep ”supporting” him.
    I am starting to find that irritating.

  46. @Aafke,
    Thanks for clarifying. I don’t really completely understand that either.

  47. In the west there are many Muslims that do NOT consider it a “legal” Islamic marriage and that it is NOT Islamicaly correct to practice polygyny. That is because in Islam you are not supposed to break the laws of the country where you live. It is also true that in order to treat wives fairly- BOTH need equal legal status. In the event of a husbands death- legal wife can hall “Islamic” wife to court and she’ll be out of luck. And who gets covered by work insurance? The legal wife- who gets the legitimate children? The legal wife. Who gets Social Security? The legal wife. Who can keep second wives out of the hospital and make medical decisions for an incapacitated husband? The legal wife. There is no being treated equally here. One has all the advantages.

    Any woman who agrees to be first OR susequent wife without full legal benefit, is being foolish in the extreme.

  48. Sandy, good points!

  49. Thanks for sharing your experience with us- I am really happy you’ve come away from your relationship with what sounds like better understanding of yourself.

  50. @Talanathas,
    Thanks. :) I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.

  51. Asking permission to marry someone you love is just insane. Oh and if and only if they approve it, you can get married. No wonder the world is going forward except in places where wrinkled ideas hold.
    Maybe after their cozy monarchy falls, things start to get better.

  52. Carmen Grape,
    I think it is partially a respect thing. Also, the family is the main social group for a lot of families around the world so who one person chooses to marry has an affect on the whole family. You can get married without their approval, but it makes things a lot more difficult and not every person can cope with that kind of pressure.

    I have heard of the family putting pressure on couples in very Western, modern countries, too, where the guy chose not to stand up for his woman and took his family’s side instead. I really think the Saudi king, King Abdullah, is doing his best to move the kingdom forward considering the variety of people within KSA. If he were to try to change things too quickly, it could potentially start a civil war between the people who want change now and the people who don’t want any change. This is a whole other issue.

  53. Strangeone, could you please give an example of a sudden change that could cause civil war? Could you also give an example of how that change could have happened slowly so as not to cause the civil war?

  54. There would not be a civil war, besides, I have noticed that if change for something like women’s rights is for the worse, going down, they are capable of fast, giant and immediate change.
    It’s only when it is to improve women’s- or human rights that change apparently has to go in microscopic steps and has to take two hundred years or more.

  55. I read something once, cant remember where, that when a patriarchal society (and this was about the middle east specifically) enacts new laws, cracksdown on whatever, instigates reforms etc etc etc blah blah yada yada yada…the first thing they target are the rights and freedoms of their women, generally reducing them even more so…and the first thing they expand are the rights and freedoms of their men, clergy, govt, king etc…as if they need more.

  56. A related story on women’s rights in Bangladesh, a moslem country …

    Islamists protest women’s rights in Bangladesh

    Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) — Dozens of people were injured in Bangladesh as riot police clashed with thousands of Islamists protesting women’s rights, authorities and witnesses said.

    The protesters damaged buses and cars Monday, setting several on fire, while police used clubs and tear gas to disperse the Islamists, who were wearing skullcaps and burial cloths.

    The government recently announced its National Women Development Policy 2011, which ensures women expanded rights in property and education. The protesters said the policy is against the Quran.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/04/05/bangladesh.protests/index.html

  57. Thanks for the example Harry. Unbelievable! According to the report the protesters are a minority so let’s see whether or not a full scale civil war will come from these new rights given to women. If not then Saudi Arabia will be free to also give women greater rights in employment, inheritance and education. Maybe they can start with giving women the right to VOTE?

  58. saudi guys are excellent talkers,full of promises but no actions. y to lead a girl to marriage when u already know that it is not possible in the ksa and also family objections.
    my friend was really cheated and ripped by a saudi guy studying in l.a and his name is amr. he knows nothing is gonna work out, but used my friend to spend his lonely times, bully her on her money.
    Both are moslems, and respect the religion, but the saudi friend respect only in words.now at the end of 4 years once his studies done, have the cheek to say cannot marry , rules of the ksa, family objections …!!! what the hell, such a coward , and it is totally harem to lead her into believing that he gonna take her as his wife, and she totally believed, thinking being a saudi moslem, will be true to his words!!!!…i m damn furious.

  59. saudi guys are excellent talkers,full of promises but no actions. y to lead a girl to marriage when u already know that it is not possible in the ksa and also family objections.
    my friend was really cheated and ripped by a saudi guy studying in l.a and his name is amr. he knows nothing is gonna work out, but used my friend to spend his lonely times, bully her on her money.
    Both are moslems, and respect the religion, but the saudi friend respect only in words.now at the end of 4 years once his studies done, have the cheek to say cannot marry , rules of the ksa, family objections …!!! what the hell, such a coward , and it is totally harem to lead her into believing that he gonna take her as his wife, and she totally believed, thinking being a saudi moslem, will be true to his words!!!!…i m damn furious.

  60. i woudnt mind going thru interview for the above..if given a chance…n how do i get a chance to interact with the owner of the web

  61. aaa,
    You can email the owner, American Bedu, via the email listed in the “About” section of the blog.

    Sorry to hear about what happened to your friend. I have no idea why her Saudi acted that way, but his actions are really inexcusable. If he was using her for money, that’s even worse because the Saudi students on scholarship get paid more than enough to cover living expenses while studying abroad. In fact, most of my Saudi friends would pay for me whenever we went out together, not just my ex-boyfriend (who also paid for mostly everything when we went out). I hope she finds someone a lot better for her that will treat her with love and respect.

  62. Thank u for ur comment, showed it to my friend, n even told her, she should be involved in the comments too.She still in a shock that she is being fooled by a saudi been with her for 4 years !!!!He pledged allegiance to their love, promised to marry no matter what and then just cry n leave saying famlly n ksa cant accept her !!!
    Something new i learned from u, is that ksa provides all the funds for study and living expenses, which my friend too not aware of. Whenever she returns to her country , she has to do the calling to keep in touch because he tells her he is always short of cash, n waiting for his so called ‘uncle’ to send money. He texts her saying ‘call me ‘ almost 20 times a day and once when i found out, i blasted her,’y the hell u have to call, cant he afford to call? My friend works hard for her money n studies too, n most of her salary went towards calling this freako..
    I personally think saudi guys are hypocrites. I actually thought they are the leaders in Islam, but sadly no.Giving false promises to girls that they will marry at the end of studies etc is total rubbish, cos they know right from the begininning is NOT POSSIBLE.Being moslem he should have been outright honest., not do fake crying over the phone !!! I really hope and pray Almighty gives my friend a partner so much good and lovable !!! I also hope this will be a bitter experience for her and not fall for these kind of crap, doesnt matter the guy is a saudi, they the worst promise makers and breakers !!!

  63. aaa, we would love to interview you, I will contact you over mail,

    Moderator #2

  64. aaa,
    Not all Saudis are on scholarship, but the overwhelming majority are. I don’t know your friend’s Saudi’s situation, so I can’t really say. It’s quite possible that a wealthy relative of his pays for his schooling or he’s on a different sort of scholarship and/or (less likely but still possible) he saved up money to attend university and pays his own way. However, if that is the case, I would think he’d still be able to afford to call her? It is most likely a simple case of him not budgeting properly, though. (Let’s be honest- a lot of Americans struggle with living on a budget, too!)

    I would say that you should see Saudis like any other group of people (a large variety/mix of individuals), but with their own culture. Like I said before, the vast majority go home after they finish at university and most aren’t willing to deal with the family pressures and legal process of marrying a foreigner. If you want examples of situations where the relationships have worked out and what they were like, check out this link: http://taraummomar.blogspot.com/

    Speaking from experience, I would say that your friend should figure out what she wants in a relationship but first she needs to ask herself, who does she want to be? What does she expect from the other person? Where does she want to live and how does she want to live? Does the guy treat her like the lady she is (example: split costs of different things)? She shouldn’t always be the one giving, giving, giving. A relationships should be about give and take on both ends. And don’t excuse a boyfriend’s behavior for whatever reason (including nationality, going through a difficult time, personality, etc.) any more than you would excuse a friend’s behavior. He is what he is. If he’s not what you’re looking for, find someone who is, even if it may be disappointing and heartbreaking now. And trust me, there are plenty of good, honest, loving, intelligent, caring, etc. men out there! Speaking of which, I met some amazing men from countries all over the world. ;)

    Oh, and a guy that texts her to have HER call is just weird! Why can he text but not call? Why can’t she just text back? And why is he texting her 20 times a day? If a guy texts me more than three times in a day, it’s too much unless we’re making plans to meet somewhere or are having a conversation via text.

    And again, just want to point out that it is more common for the Saudi guy to call his girlfriend -not the other way around- because he’d expect himself to pay for the call. However, I also know that my ex was very careful about when he called me while he was back home in KSA. I don’t know what is normal as far as this goes. He called me maybe three times in a month-long period, but he didn’t expect me to call him either.

  65. khalid mehmood, on March 8, 2011 at 9:53 am said:

    i love ksa becouse ksa is our beloved prophet,s country…and i like thers laws becouse laws send by my grate Allah
    =====================================

    During Prophet’s time women were in war field, women were top class business women eg. sayedna khadija. Since almost they got Independence, Bangaladesh have been being ruled by Muslim women prime Minister and Muslim woman opposition leader in parliament. Pakistan was ruled by Muslim woman prime Minister 2 decades back. Largest Muslim nation Indonesia was ruled by Muslim woman president. But, women are not allowed to drive in Saudi. Is it Islam? Is the rule sent by Allah?

    Amazing and pathetic and sad to read…Saudi is a monarchy and there is no place for monarchy in Islam.

  66. my friend was really cheated and ripped by a saudi guy studying in l.a and his name is amr. he knows nothing is gonna work out, but used my friend to spend his lonely times, bully her on her money.
    Both are moslems, and respect the religion, but the saudi friend respect only in words
    ————————————————————-

    Dear aaa,

    A Muslim who respect his religion from his/her heart dont spend his/her lonely time with any other man or woman to fulfill his/her needs. He/she should fullfill his/her needs in legal way thats nothing but legal marriage and announce to public that they are married couple. In fact a Muslim lier, a man/woman who indulge in illegal relation doesnt respect his religion at all. All that glitters are not gold.

  67. Lynn, on March 10, 2011 at 4:34 am said:

    ‘The overwhelming majority of Muslim men I have met only want one wife’

    LOL of course they would say that! :-) But seriously, you have met a Muslim man that admitted to you that he planned to have more than one wife?

    It doesn’t matter whether they ‘have’ the wives or not, it’s that they CAN and they DO.
    ——————————————————–

    Dear Lynn,

    So ur comments negate the statement that majority Muslim men want only 1 wife? In that case, there should be government department to export women in every non-Muslim majority country to almost 69 Muslim majority countries in the world. Becoz in these Muslim countries Muslim women’s population is little bit more than Muslim men or almost same. So, to have more than one wife, they need women to be exported.. Good and lucrative business ehhh..

  68. I am just surprised why a Muslim will cheat another human being. Why a Saudi man will date and cheat another woman??

    On the other hand, is it the only cases of Saudi men cheating foreigner woman? Men in other part of the world dont cheat women? And is it only men who cheat women? Dont women generally cheat man and use his money?

    Or each and every relation that fails to reach destination is cheating?

    Can we read some news where women cheated men? Will some1 take interview of such men too?

    In my humble opinion any1 be it man or woman, saudi or non saudi can be victim or criminal or lier.

  69. @Md Azad Ali Shah (and everyone else, too),

    Why would any person cheat on another person? I agree that it happens all over the world. However, things like this happen more often if there is less for the cheating person to lose.

    What I have learned from my experiences, though, are that there are some places where women are in fact treated with more respect than men. Sometimes, it’s based on location (even within the same country), sometimes it’s the workplace, etc. Where I live now, women are treated well by men (and vice-versa) and I like that. People are given more freedom to be who they want to be. I like this, too.

    I have also learned that a relationship should be enjoyable for both parties. It’s not just about future happiness, but about current happiness and contentment. Does this person enhance your enjoyment of life? I am kinda with another Saudi at the moment, but this one has a different outlook on life than the last one- which I like. (My outlook on life has changed as a result of my experiences, too.) This one is more adventurous about going to new places and trying new experiences. I like this. And if there are ever any major issues and it doesn’t seem to be working out, I’ll simply move on. I don’t need a man (or woman for that matter) to “complete” me.

    I really am not interested in marrying anyone at the moment because to me, marriage seems more restrictive than having children in some ways. If that’s the case, I really don’t ever want to get married. I love my freedom. For me to marry someone, they have to love and respect this about me.

    In any case, I am doing what makes me content and happy now and letting the future take care of itself.

    So I guess that’s an update on my situation.

    Peace and love to everyone! Love ya’ll!

  70. “where women are in fact treated with more respect than men” should be “by men”. Sorry for the typo; it’s been a loooonnnnnggggg week!

  71. Hi, just to say to everyone here offering information/advice, you’re all amazing!!! This topic is such a rare one, it has been hard to know where to turn……. And here i am! So thank you very much to everyone in advance for your ideas/opinions if you can help me…

    Firstly, i was born here UK, i’m female, 24years.
    December 2010 i met the love of my life. Cant begin to describe how life has been since he’s been around, we’re like hand & glove. The most patient, loyal, honest, caring, understanding guy i’ve EVER known. Despite our mistake, he’s really a VERY good muslim. & it opened my eyes to life. I’m now after reading/studying a lot, ready to convert to Islam…. I can honestly say Islam has changed my whole life.
    My only problem– He was sent here to U.K by SAUDI AIR FORCE to study (aircraft engineer from Riyadh but he’s based in Taif)
    A very innocent boy at heart, we knew we were doing wrong- just couldnt stop seeing each other. But from day 1, he was so honest/open & explained his impossible situation to me. I’ve had endless tears from him. Wishing he never signed that contract. Regrets. I feel very sad for us both.

    It’s been 11months, we’ve been everywhere together but in July he got sent back to Taif. That was worst thing i’ve ever gone through in my life. Not knowing when we’ll see each other again. But he was sent back here again last friday al hamdullah!!!
    We had a great weekend reuniting but there’s a mood that comes over us as if someone has died, he’s crying wanting us to be married. I feel the same. But his hands are tied!!!
    I believe his contract is 8-15years i’m unsure but he’s put money into a family home & being 24, saudi air force is his only qualifications— & certainly will be after 8years. Which means even if he did manage to get out after 8years, he’d have nothing to show for it.

    I’ve been willing to wait for him, but i’m aware it sounds ridiculous. 8years a lot can happen. Im not so worried about him getting married. He said it will be a long time before that happens. His 2 older brothers a 30, 32 i think, but they’re not yet married. He also says his family are no issue for us, as his mom just recently mentioned an example like ours to him out the blue, about a distant neighbour who married a foreign girl & how wonderful it was that she’d moved there, they’d married & she’d converted…. My guy held his tongue as he’s like that anyway but we agreed not to tell families until we can find any kind of chance to stay together….My dad is not disimilar to an arab, he’s very strict (perhaps it’s the roots that go back on his mother’s side) but i certainly havent broke the news & dont intend to until there’s some hope for us :(

    So anyway i’ve just left it in God’s hands…. But we had words last night. My mood has been very tense. He’s noticed my changes. It’s because in back of my mind, i know he leaves again the end of this November. It’s hurting us both. Massively. He’s such a good guy & i’m a good girl it just feels so unfair :( ((((
    So… We pretty much ended it last night.
    Today i cant stop crying. Couldnt even go to work. Cant eat. And i can see by his laptop being on he hasnt been able to go to work today either…..

    Does anybody have any ideas??? Any loopholes??? answers?? Ways to be together? Please help!!! But be gentle!!

    Thanks everyone !!

  72. Hi Lori I read your story and all the comments, i found it very interesting and a little confusing, i have been with a Saudi for almost three years i can tell you that he’s been a blessing to my life but i have my doubts about our future,i have two kids from a previous relationship and i’m not sure what kind of effect that would have on his family, I’m afraid that this would never work. Do you have any advise on my situation? Thanks :-)

  73. @confused_girl,
    I honestly don’t know what to tell you. My relationship with the Saudi didn’t work out, but I’m with another Arab (non-Saudi) man now. However, there’s a lot of differences in the two scenarios. I have been through a lot of change before, during, and after my time with my Saudi ex so there are a lot of things I realized. For one, I realized that although I loved my Saudi ex, I wasn’t in love with him. We made good friends, but would have been poor marriage choices for each other.

    In my current relationship, I don’t have nearly the amount of issues. I can relax with my habibi and don’t have to worry. I actually worry less now that I’m with him. We’ve been together through a lot so far, and have found peace together.

    The best thing is to talk it over with your Saudi and ask him about what kind of effect the two children would have on his family accepting you. If the relationship with your Saudi works out, where would you plan to live? What kind of lifestyle do you both want? Has he talked with you about the two of you building a future together? Maybe he isn’t even interested in a serious relationship with you. I would definitely ask him what he thinks and what his plans are for the future, but also be aware that some men will lie to you to get what they want. It really depends completely on personality and integrity of the individual, and so you have to trust your own judgement.

    There are so many variables it’s really hard to say or advise you.

    If your children were from a previous marriage, it may be easier for his family to accept you than if you were never married due to the perception of chastity, etc.

    Whether or not a relationship between you and your Saudi is a personal matter and has a lot to do with the two of you, how compatible you are, how much you love each other, and the level of commitment between the two of you. The legal and family stuff is important too, but you could always choose to live somewhere such as the U.S., Europe, or wherever that would allow you to keep a similar lifestyle to whatever you’re used. There are only certain situations in which it would be nearly impossible due to legal reasons to stay in a relationship. Sure, there may be a fine or something that must be paid and/or it may take time to work out all the details, but if your relationship is truly worth it to both of you, you could find a way to make it work. However, the relationship must be worth it to both of you.

    If he loves you, he’ll do his best to present you in the best light to his family. If he doesn’t introduce you to his family, I’d ask him why. I was introduced right away to the family of the one I’m with now that I plan to be with for life, but was never introduced to the family of my Saudi ex.

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