Saudi Arabia: Peculiarities of Blood

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.

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15 Responses

  1. This is the history of Canada’s First Nations people. First let me say that First Nations people in Canada have status as such. They have rights protected by the government. For those who don’t know, First Nations is a political term used by our Indigenous or aboriginal people.When a status First Nations man married a non-status woman of whatever race that women obtained status with our governments just like getting automatic citizenship. If a status woman married a non-status person she actually lost her status and her children would not have theirs either.
    Some years ago that law was changed so that women do not lose their status and in fact all women still living and her children who lost their status got it back. It took years of fighting in the courts but they did win.
    Perhaps there will be hope for Saudi women and their children who have married non-citizens. I hope so but then KSA is not a democratic country with concerns for the rights of the people.

  2. I find the whole concept of “pureblood” distasteful. While I realize that this idea is not limited to a certain region of the world, I still don’t think it’s right. What makes a person with certain genetics and/or lineage worth more or less than another? It’s just crazy!

    I’ve been asked by family member(s) why I didn’t date someone with the same skin color and/or “ethnicity” as me. They asked more out of curiosity than anything else. I didn’t honestly know how to answer that because I didn’t fall in love with a skin color; I didn’t fall in love with an “Arab” or “Middle Eastern” man; I fell in love with an intelligent man with a big heart and sweet smile who loves me very deeply.

  3. I thought that in vertebrate animals offspring get more genetic information from the mother than from the father, so a child from a Saudi mother would have more ”saudi blood” than the child from a saudi father.
    Mitochondrial DNA is not passed on by fathers, only from the mother to her children.

  4. Isn’t the concept of Saudi a new one? Relatively speaking it is a new nation and the borders are human constructs. Many tribes were nomadic and nobody was Saudi a hundred years ago.
    This is in contrast to the uk laws which are not defined by blood. I am a ‘pure’ white English woman, English for hundreds of years in my family history but my son was born in Saudi. If his wife is not British or his children are not born in the uk then they have no right to be British by nationality.

  5. Human1, but that is normal, you are talking about grandchildren right? I mean, if you make it that complicated most people nowadays would have several nationalities.
    If they value the Englis citizenship your children could always make a life for themselves in England, (at least that’s possible in other countries) and then their children would be English.
    I do think hat if you want citizenship of a country you should be contributing to that country.

  6. Aafke, it isn’t really that complicated. For instance, under Irish Nationality Law, all it takes is to have an Irish grandparent to be able to apply for citizenship. For Hungarians, all that is needed is “at least one of whose relatives in ascendant line was a Hungarian citizen” to be eligible for citizenship. India, Italy, Poland, Rwanda, Spain, Ukraine a similar law to that of Ireland. In fact, Italy has a one of a kind nationality law, no limit of generations for the citizenship via blood.

  7. Might I add that the Saudi Nationality Law is appalling to say the very least. But both my husband and I have decided that all our children shall be born in Malaysia as Malaysians (or perhaps any other country that we may reside as long as it isn’t KSA). This is to avoid any possible hurdle our children or I might face in the future, wallahu alam.

  8. How are you mrs Bawazir? Everything ok?

  9. Hi aafke, yes I m ok and so is the baby (soon to be 1 year old :) How are you? Are you with Carol? How’s she holding up?

  10. I agree with StrangeOne about “pureblood” and falling in love with people – not a skin color or ethnicity.

  11. I wouldn’t take Saudi nationality for ALL the monies in the World! I have been in Khobar for exactly 1 week today and what a trip this place is! My Goodness!

  12. Prior to my return to the US (due to my husband’s illness and subsequent death), I could see wide benefits for having the nationality if I intended to remain in Saudi.

  13. I could have received Bahraini nationality if I wanted it. I never even gave it a thought. I would not have given up my American nationality for all the money in the world just to be a Bahraini..and yes…I say that with dripping sarcasm. Even though my children are Bahraini, and good for them, they are also American…and that American half will give them far more (if they work for it and sometimes just because) than anything that comes from being a Bahraini.

  14. The amount of DNA a mother contributes is determined by the sex of the baby…more for a girl..less for a boy…but either way…its a miniscule amount more than the father. And your blood is not a nationality anyhow…neither is your DNA so determining nationality on who contributed more is pointless. Then again…a lot of politics surrounding such things is pointless.

  15. I understand where you are coming from, Coolred.

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