The Foreign Wife of a Saudi: Always an Outsider

Sad but true, no matter how long a Saudi and his foreign wife are married, she will always be viewed to a degree as an “outsider” and not included or accepted the same as a Saudi wife. The family will likely treat her politely but never with the same sense of belonging. She will be expected to be more independent. While the females of the Saudi family will be protected and coddled and not have to worry about having their needs met, the foreign wife will be expected to take care of herself, likely find her own transport and be responsible for her needs.

It goes without saying that a foreign wife and particularly Western wife of a Saudi in Saudi Arabia will need a thick skin. Hopefully she will have a supporting husband who will stick up for her and watch out for her particularly in regards to familial pressures. But at the same time, the Saudi man will usually defer to his mother’s wishes and desires even if they happen to be against the interests of the foreign wife.

Saudi families not only expect the foreign wife to take care of herself but to be there for any family issues, problems or support. She must be careful so she is not viewed and used as a substitute for the housemaid. It is a double-edged sword. On one hand the foreign wife will want to show her love to her new Saudi family and reach out to them whether it will be serving them tea or bringing them special dishes but it is a fine line where it goes from the foreign wife showing her love to the Saudi family expecting her to take care of all details and messes.

I do not want to imply that this is the case in every marriage between a Saudi man and a Western wife but based on findings, it does seem to by the most typical.


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