I doubt that many parents ever stop to wonder about their child’s citizenship. A woman gives birth and becomes a mother. She knows that the child is her very own. Well, in most cases it would work that way.
I’ve written in the past about the Saudi children from a foreign mother. They have their own set of challenges to contend with in the event the marriage has not been approved or the Saudi father is unwilling to claim parentage. Yet for the child of a foreign mother and Saudi father, there are less regulations to cut through and an accepted child can generally receive Saudi citizenship if that is the wish of the Saudi father.
It’s another set of rules for the Saudi mother who has a foreign husband. She can never sponsor her husband unlike the Saudi man who can sponsor a foreign wife. Her children will not have her name, only that of her husband. Her children might be born in Saudi but they will have foreign passports. They will not be recognized as citizens nor entitled to any of the rights under which their mother grew up.
It is not common for a Saudi woman to marry a non-Saudi yet some do marry Indians, Pakistanis, Turks, Egyptians, Americans, Brits and others. More common and greater acceptance seem to be when Saudi women have married Kuwaitis or Yemenis but they are generally from the same tribe.
Even though a child of a Saudi mother has Saudi blood in his or her veins, the child may not be accepted by society as a “pure Saudi.” Any family who has approved and endorsed the marriage of a non-Saudi to a Saudi woman is generally an unusual family. They know that there are many barricades to face and hurdles to overcome.
The Saudi child with citizenship is entitled to good schooling and scholarship opportunities. Yet the child of a Saudi mother and foreign father has to work hard at getting their child in to decent schools and loses out to the benefits of scholarships.
There are Saudi women who have remained in abusive and dissatisfying relationships with a non-Saudi spouse because otherwise they forfeit the opportunity to be a mother to their children. If the father departs the Kingdom, “his” children would go with him.
What message does this send to the society in general? I’ve always considered children to be the innocents of relationships. Yet I’m sure each Saudi mother had visions of love and forever in her mind when she married her non-Saudi, similar to how the foreign wife feels who marries a Saudi.
I have always highly respected the opinion pieces of Saudi politico-social journalist Tariq Al-Meeana. I think his recent piece encapsulates the embodiment of the challenges faced by the Saudi woman who has married a non-Saudi.