Children born of Saudi father and Foreign wife

October 18, 2007 – Thursday

Children born of Saudi father and foreign wife
Current mood:
Travel and Places

When a Saudi man marries a foreign (ie, non-Saudi) wife, any children born from the marriage are viewed as Saudi citizens.  This is even in spite if a child has dual-citizenship.  If in Saudi, the Saudi citizenship prevails and the other citizenship is not taken into consideration.  While there are some benefits of dual nationality if in the case the marriage breaks up, the father automatically is given total custody of the children.  In fact, if the mother has not taken Saudi citizenship and in the event of a divorce, she may have no choice but to leave the Kingdom and without her children.  It will be up to the good auspices of the father whether he would allow her to return to the Kingdom to visit them or allow the children to go visit their mother outside of the Kingdom.  In most cases this situation typically results in a tragic series of events with mothers rarely if ever getting to see their children.If a foreign woman is going to marry a Saudi this is one of the many aspects in which her eyes should be wide open.  Saudi Arabia is not a place for everyone and hopefully one can determine whether or not a marriage will succeed before adding the complexity of children in the equation.In the case of the United States, while officials at the US embassy and consulates are emphathatic when they learn of cases where marriages have failed and now a mother is separated from her children, there is little they can do.  US officials must also respect and abide by the Saudi law.  In fact this aspect of law and ruling in Saudi Arabia is clearly spelled out on the US Embassy Riyadh web site and in the document which gets periodically updated and circulated by State Department about American women who choose to marry Saudis.So then the question may be, what is a woman to do who has married a Saudi, had children and for whatever reason the marriage has now failed?  First one hopes that a decent relationship can be maintained in that the mother can have access to her children.  When that is not the case she can make her case and circumstances known to organizations specializing in such incidents as well as to official organizations (respective embassy, Congressman) and the press.  But at the same time, the mother must be very careful so as not to further isolate herself from her child or cause further detriment to the situation.  I know…you are likely asking why must a mother exhibit such caution in her fight to have access to her own child?  Whether one likes it or not, these are the facts and law of the land in the Kingdom.  And especially so when the child is a female as women must always have the permission of their mahrem (male guardian) up to the day they die (if of Saudi citizenship).  In the case of Americans (and likely other nationalities) the embassy wants to know of such cases for their statistics and in the reports which are compiled.  But again, one should not get their hopes raised in any event on expecting their embassy to intervene in the case of a Saudi citizen and Saudi laws.This is an extremely sensitive subject and when writing about this very topic in the Kingdom, one has to be careful and stick to the facts.If you are not a member of myspace and wish to comment to this post (or any other post) you may email me directly.  Please put the subject of the posting in the subject of the email.  You may email me at: american_bedu(at)yahoo(dot)com. 

11:55 AM 0 Comments0 KudosAdd CommentEdit Remove

8 Responses

  1. Hi,
    My son was taking to Saudi by his father in 2003, I have only been allowed to keep in touch with him by being very polite to his father..and like you said very cautious about what I say to my son…
    It has been the hardest thing I have ever been through…
    I would love to meet any women in my shoes..I have talked with Pat Roush, but her advice was to go public and I was too scared..I know Mishari’s dad and he wouldn’t of liked that..I would of definately lost contact with my son for sure..
    If anyone knows of other moms in my shoes..Please contact me…I am desperate to find someone to relate too.
    THank you .

  2. Kellye,

    You may want to join the yahoo newsgroup [email protected] as I know there are participants in that group who have been (and are) in your shoes.

    Living here and seeing firsthand the various aspects of life and culture I do understand why you want to be very careful to preserve what you have and not lose more opportunities to be in touch with your son. It is so easy for others to say do this or do that but they may not be as familar with with the Kingdom and its culture, customs and laws.

    Is your son of an age that you can be in email or skype contact with him? With skype, you could also use the webcam connect and see him.

  3. I have read recently information suggesting that

    1. Saudi men must always ask government permission before they marry foreigners.

    2. A law went into effect in 2008 requiring such men to write an affidavit allowing their foreign spouse and foreign children (i.e. the children they will have with their foreign wives, who will by virtue of their mother’s citizenship have foreign citizenship in addition to the Saudi citizenship they get from their father) to leave the country freely. This affidavit must be stamped by some government Ministry (of the Interior?).

    3. This law is, however, not retroactive, so that its provisions only apply to marriages contracted after the law went into effect.

    Does the above represent a proper understanding of the facts?

  4. caraboska – you have the facts correct. However I believe the jury is still out on no. 2 as to whether children will really be allowed to leave the Kingdom freely with their mother in the event a marriage does not work out. What is stated and what is done are not always the same thing!


  5. OK, there’s a signed sealed and delivered document stamped by the Ministry of the Interior or whichever it’s supposed to be, it says ‘I agree to allow my child to travel freely and leave KSA at will’ – and it doesn’t happen? I’m going to put on my American hat here: bug my eyes out here and say ‘Does not compute does not compute does not compute.’ Then I’m going to put on my the hat of my adopted country and ask ‘By what miracle?’ Of course, intellectually I can come to some kind of conclusions about what kind of mentality would permit such a thing to happen, but I guess I find it hard to believe that people really are able to think like that. Because I really am not…

  6. That’s a lot of it..until you come to Saudi Arabia and live here awhile it is easy to not grasp what can be the ground realities of life in the Kingdom.

  7. I think it is important to try to put yourself in the mindset of people who really do believe it is in the best interest of the child to be raised in an Islamic country, with the paternal family (and the tribe), and all of the advantages of services in Saudi Arabia. That does not of course justify being abusive ot the mother, or depriving mother and children of each other, but it is more understandable if you think about it in this way.

    Also political edicts, especially ones forced on a society by outside pressure are often not enforced, or not applied, or eluded by a variety of means, anywhere.

  8. Is this still the case? Have read reports in newspapers that expat women can stay in ksa under government sponsorship. Is this correct or not?

    Kind regards, Umm Entissar

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