Dear Non-Saudi Woman,
So you have met a Saudi student and he has captured your attention. Yes, I understand that you find him attractive, charming, fun, caring and exceptionally polite. Those are natural characteristics of his upbringing and heritage.
He makes you feel very special and like you are the only one who matters.
But has he shared with you some of the regulations and cultural aspects of his heritage by which he will likely abide?
If he is outside of Saudi and studying on a scholarship, he is prohibited from marrying a foreigner. Even if he speaks of marriage and is a “self-pay” student, he requires permission from his government in order to marry a non-Saudi. Any Saudi under the age of 35 requires permission from his government to marry a foreign woman.
Now of course, a man can marry whom he chooses under Islam, as long as she follows one of the Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, Judaism or Islam. But…without the governmental permission, the marriage will not be recognized in Saudi Arabia. Without the marriage permission, the foreign wife can’t enter the Kingdom or receive any benefits to which a wife would be entitled.
Segregation is practiced in Saudi Arabia. For many Saudi men, they have not interacted with or seen “uncovered” women unless she is his mother, sister or maybe an Aunt. As a result, he faces his own sense of culture shock when he arrives in a country where there is no segregation, women do not cover and interaction between the sexes is allowed.
The Saudi student will likely enjoy the new environment and take advantage of the opportunity to interact with women. However, he’s probably not had any experience in dating and may quickly evolve to an “I love you” and “I don’t want to be without you” phase. His conscience may press him to raise the subject of marriage. At the same time while he takes you on dates and does not object to you knowing his friends, you’ll remain a secret to his family. His mother probably has selected a wife for him already. His family would not want or accept a foreigner in the family.
You will believe that everything is going well between you and your Saudi student. He’ll have met your family. He’ll bring flowers to your mother. He might have given you a ring or some other piece of jewelry. You’re falling in love and confident HE is the ONE.
He’ll tell you how much he loves you. He’ll reach out for you, touch you, hug you, kiss you. He’ll want more and you may elect to enter into an intimate relationship. At the same time, you may not even know his complete name, where he lives in Saudi Arabia or whether he’s already married or engaged. You only know what he has chosen to say to you.
However back in his own country he’d be taking a huge risk to have contact, even just telephonic, with a woman who was not related to him. He and a Saudi woman would be disgraced and have shamed their families if they were to be seen together. Every Saudi woman is expected to be pure and virginal on her wedding night.
While he may never say it, you have lost face and respect from him because you chose to have an intimate relationship with him. He’ll figure he is simply taking what you have chosen to give but that you would not be ‘wife material’ … if you ever were in his eyes.
He may be generally sorry when it is time for him to return to Saudi Arabia. But once he has been back for a few weeks, he quickly adapts back into his culture and traditions.
Don’t think that YOUR relationship and your Saudi are going to be different. You will set yourself up for a harder fall.
Don’t be fearful to have a Saudi as a friend. Think of him as a kid brother…only. Get to know and appreciate the best of each other’s cultures. If he does not want to abide by the rules of his culture or of his religion, then be the strong one. You’ll avoid much heartache this way.
Mother Hen Bedu
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