Saudi Arabia: Have the Regulations REALLY Changed for a Saudi Student to Marry a Foreigner?

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It has been brought to my attention that an article recently appeared on the web site maintained for Saudi students in the USA that restrictions have lessened for the Saudi to marry a foreigner while studying abroad.

I have reviewed the article and in my opinion view the comments shared by the Saudi Embassy’s Cultural Attache in Washington, DC to be vague and inconclusive without any changes to existing regulations.

A Saudi man is allowed to marry a foreign woman.  However, she will not be legally recognized as his wife without approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior and perhaps some other governmental organizations.

If the marriage is not approved by the Saudi government, then the foreign wife is not legally recognized as the wife of a Saudi within Saudi Arabia.  That means she could not travel and be with her husband in the Kingdom since it is against the law for unrelated men and women to be together.  Additionally, without recognition of the marriage, she does not receive any of the benefits a legally recognized wife would be entitled.

In my view, the article only reiterates that governmental approval is required and there is a process to follow.  Additionally, a telling statement in the article by the Cultural Attache is his own belief that there are many Saudi women of beauty and intelligence, a Saudi student abroad does not need to seek a foreign wife.

If a foreign woman and a Saudi student choose to go through with marriage without the official approval, it should be with the eyes wide open.  Marrying prior to approval can have consequences and further delay an approval.  Until an approval, which can take years, is granted, the couple may ultimately have to spend significant time apart.

Many Saudi students abroad on a scholarship have a commitment back in Saudi Arabia through their scholarship sponsor which must be fulfilled.  They do not have an option to remain in the United States.  It is not unusual for a Saudi student who has returned home to also marry a Saudi wife, especially if he is under intense pressure from the family.

Not all Saudi students are bad guys.  However, a foreign woman really needs to search deep within her heart AND logic on what is the right action for her.  She may be confident that she knows her Saudi but most of the Saudi students are different in their actions and lifestyle when they are in Saudi Arabia as compared to elsewhere.

My advice as “Mother Hen Bedu” is for a couple to at least get the families (his and hers) blessings before marrying without the Saudi governmental approval.  If a woman knows without a doubt that her Saudi’s family is supportive of the union then I think there is a better chance of a lasting future.


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