Saudi Arabia: Pros and Cons of Familial Marriages

Mideast Saudi Too Young To MarryMarriages continue to be predominantly arranged in Saudi Arabia.  In the majority of cases these marriages are between family members such as first or second cousins.  If not, then the marriages will continue to be within families such as a son of a sister-in-law may marry the sister-in-law’s niece.  I know…it can get confusing sometimes keeping the relationships straight.


On the positive side the arranged marriages between families and between relatives usually keeps the marriage together.  Even if the couple are not passionate about one another they are less likely to divorce as that could disrupt and harm relations between the families.  Arranged marriages between families are also viewed as one knows what to expect and familiar and comfortable with the values and views of the family – they are a known entity.  And of course, wealth, properties and other assets remain within the family as do any family secrets, issues or problems.  Saudi families are traditionally private and many view as “closed.”


However on the negative side because of so many families marrying consistently within families, there is a much higher risk for genetic problems and other dieases such as Down’s Syndrome, diabetes, blood diseases, etc.  While the Saudi government now requires certain blood tests to be taken prior to any marriage even in spite of recommendations against marriages due to genetic incompatibilities, such marriages may continue to take place.  The family’s perspective on such issues is that “it is up to Allah” on whether any children born of such a union would have any deformities or abnormalities.


It is not only Saudi Arabia where marriages are mostly arranged and within families.  This happens a lot throughout the Arab States and Asia as well.  However it seems that Saudi Arabia has a high proportion of children born from such unions being at higher risks to having problems.  In my view this is in part due to marrying within families has been going on for generations so individuals genetic structures are weakened.


And at least for me, this link further summarizes not only the negative aspects of familial marriages but why such marriages continue to give Saudi Arabia a bad name.


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