Saudi Arabia: A Saudi Student Love Story and Heartache in Progress

A student and I have been dialoguing on the challenges and pitfalls of falling in love with a Saudi student.  Falling in love with a Saudi can be very intense with strong emotions arising quickly between each other.  The Saudi student in love can make his beloved feel like the most Royal Princess.  He will have immaculate manners, be eloquent with words and very caring and protective of her.  He will endear himself to her and steal her heart with his words of love and revelation of his high family values.  Yet there can and is most often another side to the story.  The Saudi student will believe the words of love and promises he has said but when it comes down to the line in the sand, he will likely adhere to his family wishes even if it means marrying another or giving up his “first true love.”  I can write post after post on this topic but no words can hit harder than those from a student who realizes that she has to let her Saudi go.  In spite of the wishes and dreams, they will not have a future together.


Dear Carol,

For the past half year I have been faithfully following your blog in hopes of broadening my world view.  I have deeply enjoyed your various opinions, interviews and personal touches. I read the debates that follow each post, had come to form a view of Saudi culture of my own.

Time and time again, I had been hit with the warning of Saudi students and relationships. And, as fate would have it- I find myself in the exact predicament you and your commenters and described countless times.

My Saudi has only been in Canada for less than a year, and is currently in English school. Until now, our relationship has been wonderful.

I have met and became friends with his cousins who are also here to study- I have spent consecutive days with them over the holidays, have shared meals, gone out and have been well received by all of them.

I had read that most Saudi students keep their foreign girlfriends a secret from their immediate families; I questioned him and found that this was the case for me as well.

It bothered me that he couldn’t let his family know of us, as our actions are considered sinful. When I asked him about this, he was deeply conflicted. When I ask him what he feels, his responses often start with “My Religions/Culture says…”

We discussed our future together, planning our university years (I am to graduate my second degree in 2 years) and playing with the idea of me living in the middle east (I was already considering this prior meeting him, and had a personal goal of living overseas for many years).  We share so many of the same beliefs, philosophies and views. I was really beginning to think that this could be long-term.  I began to believe that eventually he would be able to tell his family about me- after-all, he always says, “we are all Gods children, one and the same, no matter nationality or faith”.

It was not until now that the culture gap became so obvious though.

He has now been told he is to marry his cousin come the summer when he returns home for a month.

I am crushed, but he is utterly devastated.  Though little can be done, he says he will try to not marry and stay with me. I do not want to be the cause for any disruption in his family life (I know how important family is to him) but a part of me wants to hold on to that hope.

The warning signs were there all along- I read of them, and told myself we wouldn’t be another case of Saudi Student Heartbreak. I didn’t believe we’d have to rely on the Love Conquers all mindset, because there wasn’t a problem. We were two young people in love.

But now, we’re being thrown through hurdle after hurdle, trying to stay happy, but knowing the likely reality.

I am so confused by this- The religion says that we are all equals. But his family (who are also of strong faith) will only accept a Muslim Saudi wife for their son.  Doesn’t that contradict their religion?

I hear so much of the hardships of Saudi women being thrown into the throngs of arranged marriage, but almost nothing of the males. He does not want to marry a stranger- and has expressed (before this news was delivered) that he believes that one should always marry for love, and if the love is gone, it is better to separate and continue to respect the person (especially if they are a parent of your child).

I wish for my Saudi to follow his heart and be happy. Whether or not that is with me is up to him. I don’t want to be the cause for any strain in his family life.

There are a lot of family politics I don’t understand in the Saudi culture. But I do understand this- Saudi students have a mind of their own. When they come to new countries, they will do and act differently than they would at home. But their hearts are the same. They hold on to their beliefs, and many express guilt in challenging their religion and culture.  They are exploring themselves in a way they might not have been able to do before. It’s confusing for them. It’s a lifetime of beliefs being questioned daily.

At the least, I hope my Saudi can use his experience with me as a stepping stone in his life.

I would like to express my deepest thanks for accurately reflecting this situation in your posts.
I knew what to expect, and what is likely coming our way. I draw inspiration from your posts, and hope that, god willing, love will find a way.

Yes, if he is to marry, he will be returning to Canada. He is already registered to study at the same University and program as I (this was arranged prior our meeting). His wife will join him here in Canada.

At our young age, we both have a lot to learn from this. I really did not believe arranged marriages were alive and well, never mind it happening in my own life. I will not interfere with him and his new wife if that is what to be. Until our end I will continue to encourage him to follow his heart and be true to himself, whatever that means to him.

I don’t want to discourage those looking for Love to avoid Saudis, but instead to provide enough surrounding information that if they so chose to a courtship with someone from the Kingdom, that they are aware and prepared to accept the consequences of culture.

I have been equipped with knowledge, and am experiencing the clash first-hand. It hurts, but we are determined to cherish what little time we have left. He tells me day after day that he will find a way to be with me… I truly believe that this is far harder for him, as I am the first woman he has ever been with.

Knowing that I am the first, and that with me we shared a bond, I promised to stay by my Saudi until he could be with me no longer.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my love in a time of hardship.

I will continue to follow your blog, and believe in Love.


189 Responses

  1. What a sad story, all the more sad because it is common.

    Less common is the story of the Western woman who marries her Saudi, ends up in the Kingdom several years and children later, and only then discovers that the man himself, not even the family, has found a new bride.

    That may not comfort our Canadian student right now, but she’ll have a sweet memory in years to come, instead of a bitter, broken life.

    How many of these marriages end up as happy as Carol’s marriage to Abdullah, as enduring, as loving? I know of only one— Carol’s marriage to Abdullah.

    Is marriage to a Saudi as much of a crap-shoot as it seems? I don’t think so. Marriage between Westerners seems just as unpredictable, just as susceptible to cultural landmines, as cross-cultural marriage.

    Love is overrated at as predictor of successful marriage, but so is cultural commonality.

  2. excellent comment Marahm and thank you for the mention of Abdullah and I.

  3. :-(((((( Yeah I think most have/had a rude awakening in these relationships. We all think our Saudi is different, but most of the time they are all exactly alike. I have friends who still stay with their Saudi even though they know he’s still married and I think that’s just as bad cause I’m sure the wife is just as unhappy and the rest of the triangle. It just sucks. Period. I hope everything turns out well❤ either way it goes…

  4. To the young lady —

    Your saudi is just another guy who wants to play the field and run, it’s just easier for him to blame it on family and ksa and culture. nothing more nothing less.
    you could
    1. dump him and get over it
    2. bid him farewell and a happy life and feel sorry for yourself.

    Just ask yourself this
    1. Is he an adult?
    2. Is he capable of surviving on his own
    3. Did he get his parents permission to pursue you?
    4. did he not know that his religion/culture prohibits him from pursuing you?
    5. Did he not know that to marry a foreigner govt permission is reqd.

    There are many many men in this world who do this, saudi’s and a few from other cultures just have the mommy excuse, religion excuse , country excuse prepped.

    If he overlooked all of that to fall in love what’s holding back marriage…

    sometimes instead of just blaming the man the saudi tag is attached..A lot of us are married to saudi , with very pissed off saudi MIL and lo behold , we’re all fine!!!!

  5. You can always rely on an interesting story when you do learn of a bi-cultural marriage between a Saudi and a foreigner given all the red tape and documents and permissions that are required in order for the marriage to be recognized in Saudi Arabia.

  6. Two things to remember: Saudis, especially men in power, use religion and culture as tools of oppression and exploitation. Facts speak for themselves.

    Saudis (men and women) are the most sexually deprived people on earth. When they go to countries where sexual relationships are normal parts of life and human nature, they go wild. When they get their kicks, they go back home and marry one of their own because non-Saudi women demand respect, equality and full partnership.

    Why should this lamenting person expect Saudi men to treat her better than they treat their own.

    It won’t hurt to do home work and look at facts first. Read Clashes of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington.

    The Saudi man in this story and all the ones that I have read here are only half of the problem. It takes two to tango.

  7. The story is sad but it can have a good outcome. The man has to have a spine. My husband is from India and had all the same thoughts. How could he hurt his parents like this? It is against his culture. Blah blah blah. All reasons were true I am sure. I got fed up with the situation and told him in no uncertain terms he had to make a choice and figure it out. Either he loved me enough to bite the bullet and get married or he didn’t. If he didn’t then that is fine…I would wish him the best in life but our contact was over. No more playing games…I gave him two weeks to seriously think about what he wanted to do…there was to be NO contact. Don’t call, don’t whine, don’t drive by my house and just “bump” into me by mistake. Nothing. AT the end of two weeks I wanted an answer either way. If it was no, contact was ended completely, if it was yes he was to start moving in that direction and the first step was to suck it up and tell his parents. At the end of one week he told me he wanted to be with me. Within a week or two he had told his parents…they writhed around on the floor for awhile and there were plenty of tears and scolding from his mother. But believe it or not they got over it and all went well. We were married and they didn’t hold a grudge and all is well now.

    I found if I didn’t lay down the law to my honey he would have wrung his hands and might never have done it.

    Now it is fine to go for the ride with the young saudi knowing it will end and have a wonderful memory for the future. IMO there is nothing wrong with that as long as one faces it with clear headed, no nonsense understanding of the situation.

  8. Now, wait a minute, Ali. With all due respect, I hope you are not suggesting that either party to a Saudi- non-Saudi romance is deliberately pulling the wool over.

    Surely, a minority of these people behave deceptively, but who do you think they are deceiving, if not themselves? Don’t you think that the majority of cross-cultural lovers are simply thrilled to the core with each other, with their possibilities, and with the expanding world view that each brings to the other?

    I do.

    That their courage ultimately fails may not be their fault. How can you blame the human spirit that is pulled to outer levels yet tethered to its base?

  9. First, I would like to thank AmericanBedu for posting my experience for everyone to read. It is a truly difficult situation, and I thank everyone for their input.

    I don’t expect my Saudi to go against his families wishes for me. We are young, and I do not want him making huge life changing decisions, for me. Yes, I love him, but it is not my battle.

    He knew before we met that his family would not approve of me, and yet he tried anyways. Would have it been better that he never pursued and my feelings never had grown? Maybe.
    It would be saving a lot of hurt. But I wouldn’t go back and change it now.

    In the beginning neither one of us expected this to turn into something “real”. But it grew, and here we are.

    He’s questioning himself daily, and it makes me so sad to see him hurting.
    Yes, I’m hurt, but we’re young.
    If it’s meant to be it’ll be.
    I will stand with him as he goes through this.

    Am I naive? Likely.
    I’m going into this knowing the outcome – and for the time being, am enjoying the time we have left.
    It’s better to have loved and lost, then to have not loved at all.

  10. the guy is a loser. A real man would say no to a marriage he didn’t want.
    There are two possibilities here,
    1- the bloke was honest but is a spineless whimp and has to marry his cousin because his family expects it and there is nothing a mollusk can do about it.
    2- the bloke is lying through his teeth and took his opportunity to make use of a kuffaar woman while telliing her lies all the time.

    In both cases this man is a serious waste of any woman’s time.
    And why is it that all stories of Saudi men go like this?
    It’s always the same story, only the names are different.
    Maybe campuses in America should put up notices warning the girls of this typical, uniform, ever repeating scenario.

  11. Talanathas, you have loved and lost, do not waste anymore of your time by ”standing by him”.
    Serious waste of your time.

    Dump this loser and get on with your life and look for a partner who is worthy of you.

  12. Radha, your man has a spine made of steel and brains, he also realized that there was no future for your family in Saudi Arabia and had the guts to live in another country.
    Which is what any Saudi man should be prepared to do if he truly loves a woman who has been born free.

  13. Clearly, we all know this happens often. I do, however, know several American women here who are married to Saudi men. Some enjoy a wonderful marriage, while some do not. A few women left after several years of marriage because their husbands “changed” once they brought them to the Kingdom (the old bait and switch routine in which he appeared to be open and accepting in the States, and then demanded she cover her face and stay home once they arrived on his own turf). The women I know who are happy are of a different generation. they are in their late forties and fifties now – so they met and married at a completely different time…before the internet and satellite television. Some men met with resistance from their mothers (not the fathers, which is interesting), but faced the music. Not all the women have had great relationships with their inlaws, but some have. I think it is a roll of the dice – as with many marriages. Just don’t believe everything the young man says in the heat of passion. That goes with every culture. Young men can be earnest, but most act with their hormones and think later. Good luck to the young woman – she sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders. Stay in school!!!:)

  14. been there, done that.

    Dear Talanathas,

    you sound like a sensible lady and i don’t mean to be patronizing or anything.
    As Oby and Aafke said: a man needs to have a spine. he doesn’t (or so it seems). The family dynamics over there is so much different to what we are used to.
    Ask yourself: if a man is unable or can hardly stand up for himself, do you expect him to stand up for you? He won’t. He has too much too lose. And at the end of the day he will comply with the family wishes.
    His parents are clear: a wife must be muslim and saudi. I think that they could possibly compromise on nationality, what about religion? Are you going to convert? If not, how do you imagine living there with him and his mother and sisters?
    I think Radha had that experience and she spoke about it on many occasions on this blog.
    I know where you are coming from cause I was exactly in your position not so long time ago. They are cute, caring and very affectionate guys and I’m not saying he is untrue. But when the push comes to shove they are more likely to go with family wishes.
    My best wishes to you!

  15. Talanathas…. As you are reading your voice could have been mine about a year and a half ago. I am still with my Saudi, alhamdulillah, but there were so many dark times… Seriously my heart is aching for you right now.

    I feel lucky that my partner had a few years of experience in resisting the marriage arrangements of his parents before I even met him. After all his parents can put pressure but they cannot force him to give consent.

    I agree with the comments that the man has to make a decision: is he going to risk his relationship with family, or is he going to lose you? You are right in saying that you can’t make this choice for him – his family and culture are important, and he needs to decide for himself what is best. So sad, but the fact that you respect him and value his wellbeing even if it means he has to leave you says a lot about the depth of your love.

    Can we get in touch via e-mail? Carol, if it’s OK with her could you connect us?

  16. Sorry, been away for a while (discovered the power of twitter & had to get some applications in for admissions)…

    Know of at least 3 cases where Saudi man and his wife lived happily ever after…the part where he has to have a spine, like Aafke-Art and others mentioned, is key to success. My uncle married an American, because he didn’t put as much weight to what his family thought of the whole thing, and decided it wasn’t against his religion, he married her anyway and they’ve lived very happily to this day (almost 20+ years now).

    If this man truly loved you, he wouldn’t be putting this predicament as an impediment to marriage. It wouldn’t even register. Seriously? Get over him. Not worth the complications/headache. Spineless men, especially in the Middle East, are a liability in a marriage.

  17. i agree with everyones post, pretty much right on the nose.
    i must say that i have never seen any forced arranged marriages or any woman folk forcing marriages on there sons in my family or friends. a saudi man has the last word in the family and if he says “NO” then “NO” it is. get it? this country is controlled by males,males,males, and they will marry who they want! a saudi man does and is going to do whatever he wants to do. in the end a saudi is going to do and get what HE wants. i am sure he knew his cousin and liked her to marry her. just because they are seperated at puberty doesn’t mean they were never in the same house together. i know this. i won’t say what my family is saying about my kids and the cousins. i just ignore it. but they all know each other for sure since birth. there will be no forced marraige with my kiddos. you can’t even make them wash the
    and forget about the bond you think you have with this loser. you were experience for him. you have a bond with him because you are a female [consummation creates a loyal bond for females], but men have a different brain than we females do. if a man loves a woman then he will die to be with her. just out of curiosity, was he your first? not that it matters anymore. but i would not obsess over the loser. i think you’re very lucky not to have to go through a saudi marraige. but that’s my thought.
    there are so many american men to choose from and there are a so many reverting to islam and taking arabic classes. you will find someone new or they will find you..but i don’t see anything special about the arab man than the american man. just an accent that sounds different. it gets old after hold your head up and get on with life. your lucky. gia in jed

  18. I totally agree with the comments, but for the sake of the gal can we not call the guy a loser? Both of them are caught between a rock and a hard place, and they’re probably hurting enough on their own at this point. Let’s recall that she wrote this letter from her heart – honest answers are great, rubbing it in when she already seems pretty aware of the situation is a bit rougher.

    I do agree with the fact that if a Saudi man says no, that means NO. Also the Saudi woman technically has to verbally agree to the marriage with witnesses. Going against family wishes may mean a ton of backlash, but the marriage is technically voluntary on both sides.

    You have an interesting point about the cousins – for sure they remember each other, and 12 isn’t too young to develop some sort of opinion!

    I’m heard from friends that guys can actually be “worse” than girls with their first sexual partner “I love you and wanna be with you forever!” etc. That said, it probably isn’t a big role in this case, as it sounds like they’ve been together for long enough to get past that stage.

    But, those two know their case better than any of us. Let’s hope for the best, whether that means they stay together or apart.

  19. I seems to me that people are assuming a lot about the exact nature of the relationship and how far it went in some areas. Well, she didn’t say and it is really none of our business.

    This is a sad and unfortunate case. I am glad the guy has told her- otherwise it would be a bigger shock. I think it highly unlikely anything will change. If this man won’t stand up for himself from far away, he won’t when he is right there and the wedding has already been planned.

    I think you need to take a cold hard look at things. You are cherishing your remaining time. You are also dating an engaged man. Can you be comfortable with that? How would you feel if you were the fiance? RIght now she has dreams of her wedding, is sharing news with family and friends and getting ready like any other young woman.

    Even worse, what kind of guy does that to his fiance?

    Also, because many in his culture are okay with marrying more than one wife this marriage does not need to change anything from his point of view. If he is free to see you now, he is once he marries. Are you going to be his girlfriend while he has a wife? My advice is to let him go now. He is engaged. If he breaks his engagement, I’d still think long and hard about being with him. You’ve learned a lot about how difficult the situation can be.

  20. @Ali
    What you say is not completely true. Saudi’s are not nearly as sexually deprived as you think.

    Also, not all behave badly inside or outside the country. Some do Unfortunately, when they behave badly inside the country the law is usually on their side and the consequences for women involved can be severe. But that doesn’t mean all Saudi men are behaving dishonorably.

    @Confused as for your friend still seeing the married Saudi. The women might be miserable- but I doubt he is. He has his legit, acceptable wife, and an “other woman” bit on the side. Why would he be unhappy? I do feel sorry for the wife though.

  21. The ties of family and culture are deeply rooted. To be at peace with oneself, he either is a rebel to start with denying those ties, and hence his attachment to a non-saudi would follow his own nature. In that case he would probably be able to refuse this arranged marriage in principle to start with. That being not the case, you are dealing with a person faithful to his traditions, who was taken up by passion so strong to sway him away, but never will that de-root him from his built-in traditions. In this manner, unless, you are ok with multiple marriages, it is a relation seeing its sunset.
    There is a time to say goodbye. This is it for both of you.

  22. It is odd for me to think of my Saudi as engaged. Firstly, he is still resisting the proposal – so he is not technically engaged [yet :S]
    I’m not sure where I stand on this type of ‘engagement’ morally. I consider myself a respectful and honorable woman – meaning I would never want to be the ‘other woman’. But in these cases, where the man and woman have never met, spoken, or know of each other… is that truly ‘cheating’?
    Once my Saudi marries, of course I will not be with him. I couldn’t do that to a woman. I guess I have not considered, as he is not engaged yet, that yes, most would consider that cheating for him.

    Thanks for asking not to refer to him as a loser. He is a sweet and emotional male, who has made a mistake. Yes, I have anger about the situation, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.
    Of course I’d love for him to stand up for our relationship – but at the same time, I would not want to be the cause of any problems in his family. The situation is bigger then me, and more complicated then I first realized.

    To all those advising I let go now… I suppose that would be the logical thing to do. I am a realist… unfortunately I have the soul of a dreamer. And to my heart, this is what’s right for me, right now. Does it make sense? No. If I was on the outside of the situation, I’d think the same as all of you who criticize my decision. But when your on the inside, sometimes you just want to let your heart take over.

  23. @ Talanathas

    Gosh when I read what you wrote, it’s as if I was looking at myself a few weeks ago… I wanted to believe it’s possible for me and my ex to survive and somehow work it out. Because in my world there is nothing that can overrule love. Love conquers all:)
    I understand that with such relationships each partner has to compromise. But he has to stand up for himself in the first place to be even able to stand up for you. Unless you are willing to do everything to appease his family.
    I know it’s not easy but I think you will be saving yourself a lot of pain and hurt in the long term. What’s his stand on religion btw?
    If you wish to PM me to chat feel free to ask Carol for my details.
    I wish you all the best and hope it all works out for you:)

  24. Actually it seems your guy isn’t ready to be married to anyone yet. I feel sorry for his wife to be. I can’t tell by what you’ve written how good/bad he may be, but he does need to learn to stand up for himself. He can say no if he wants. He knew his culture/religion and his family. Given that he can’t stand up to them he had no business getting involved with you. And it won’t be just this. If his family runs him they will continue to do so after he is married. They will run him, his wife and their children.

    BTW I never think it is a good idea to let your heart take over. I also can tell you that love does not conquer all. There needs to be balance.

    Also, love does not conquer all.

  25. -sorry. Didn’t mean to say that twice.

  26. yeah i know Sandy:) but it’s nice sometimes to think that:)
    reality sucks?

  27. Don’t give up! You can find someone you love who is also a practical match and have a wonderful life! That is a love that will withstand time and the reality of life! And it is much more beautiful that a one dimensional romantic-only love, that gets ripped apart by the heartstrings.

    Believe me. Even with a compatible match you will have plenty for your love to conquer. Life isn’t a cakewalk!

  28. i have yet one more question to you –
    where are your parents inthis picture, If today your mom or dad said they didn’t like him , would you give him up? would you fight them to stay with him ( metaphorically ) . If the answer is YES. what’s stopping him – a MALE in a male dominated society.

    You keep talking about about coming between him and his family, that’s not true, you are not yet a significant person in his life to come between himand his family… if you were you would not be havingthis conversation. He decide how significant your presence is.

    I don’t know what you go thru, the heartbreak but in my yrs of living ( beleive me i’m much much older than you) and coming from a culture that is eaqually tied to mommy’s apron strings and marrying into yet another – it’s all in his hands. he can have you and his family . In cultures such as his they don’t easily chop off the son and all contct with him .. you they may hate but not him …

    think about it – most parents don’t raise their kids and lop them off…

  29. oh Sandy, I love your comments!:)
    of course I don’t give up and i hope that Talanathas won’t either:)
    it’s just that sometimes you just feel it so strongly in your guts and it’s hard to let go. that’s how strong pull it is:)
    it’s difficult to let your reason speak in such times when it is most needed! reality check from time to time is a must!:)

  30. I think building a relationship with a Saudi student while he is outside of his country is one of the most difficult Saudi/foreign woman relationship. He’s likely out of his country for an extended period and on his own for the first time. He is gaining independence and he is also in a society where it is OK for him to talk and date and have a relationship with women. In most cases, it’s probably the first relationship. Yet in spite of the newfound independence his culture will call him. Rather than give up a relationship he will call it love.

    I’ve yet to hear of a Saudi male student that has told a female upfront that he is outside of his country for schooling, he is prohibited from marriage as part of his scholarship regulations or if he is not on a scholarship, that there are age restrictions placed by his government in marriage to a foreigner.

    Many foreign women who meet Saudi students do not know the regulations which he is supposed to abide. All they likely know is they have met someone who is likely very polite, charming, well mannered, respectful to her parents and touches her heart like it’s never been touched before.

    My advise to all women who are in relationships with a Saudi student is to find out as much as possible about them, where they are from, what is their family like. It is difficult to tell someone in love or with deep feelings to drop it. But I believe it is okay to give constructive support without criticism.

  31. Love alone cannot support a relationship. At some point in life, that passionate love fades, and you will be forced to stare at cold hard realities of life with a man/woman from different culture/background/religion. When couple are put thru the tests of life, it becomes more apparent what seemed insignificant at the time of love and courtship.

    Love is blind, deaf, dumb, and plain crazy. I married a man who is of different culture and upbringing than mine. We both stood strong when we faced huge backlash from our families, when we were put thru emotional roller coaster, etc. While we still deeply love and respect each other, we advise those who are willing to listen to seek marriage from culture/background/religion/ideology of one’s own. Love only takes you so far. There is a reason why cross-cultural marriages weren’t widespread prior to globalization. Our ancestors knew very well of the level of sacrifices each have to make in order for relationship to last. But when life throws surprises your way, you wonder if all the great sacrifices were worth it.

    Just my two cents.

  32. I feel your pain.

  33. Cookie…

    I think you have summed it up nicely. Love is tough enough when both are from the same place. Adding such a different element is making it tougher than it needs to be…simple things can become an issue that would not even registr on the radar of people who are from the same culture…

    Radha…”coming from a culture where men are tied to mama!” So true. You are right about them not cutting off the son so quickly. My FIL told me “we love our son and want him to be happy. He can’t be happy if we don’t love and accept his wife, so we love and accept you” (paraphrased). They didn’t do it for me…they did it for HIM.


    After reading your second comment I don’t think that you are in it with your eyes closed. It feels to me that although you are sad about it you realize it will end most likely and you want to live the experience until it isn’t possible anymore. If you realize that then you can survive this fairly unscathed and once the pain fades you will carry a wonderful memory with you forever. However, I do agree with the others that if he wants to he can make it happen for the two of you. Mine did. But you have to decide if the price is too steep if he did…in the end you would wind up feeling cheated if you gave up to much of yourself. I used to ask myself “how hard to I have to pound to make this square peg fit into this round hole? Do I want to spend a life pounding that hard?” Sort of put it into perspective really fast.

    Thanks for sharing.

  34. I only would like to say that I know several Saudi men married very happy to Western women. There was about 18/20 years ago a womens club in Riyadh for women married to Saudis, I was invited to that group and there were women from Germany (where I am from), Austria, Britain and of course the States. To several I had years of contact and they are all still very happy. In my opinion, you never know how a relationsship works or does not. We are a mixed couple too (US/German) and have our “mentality problems” too.
    So actually I really hope that all works out for the young lady to get her Saudi man.

  35. Reading this reminds me so much of my own little story. Yet, I’m a Muslim from a Middle East country and we both met in England where we were studying and improving our English.
    His family knew about me : I talked to one of his niece and he asked me about my parents, their name, jobs etc.
    He went to the USA for studying like Saudis usually do and after 2 years without any meeting (we were both in different countries but managing to keep in touch daily through new technologies), I saw him again (of course, every time, a relative was with me to be sure that the guy was alright. One of them who has talked to him said after that he looks interesting on me).
    Anyway, we had great time together in the US and after that, I had to go back to my own life.
    Sadly, one of my family member passed away. When I told that to my own Saudi, he just asked me “what is my problem from all that?”. He knew how I love my family and that my family means everything to me.
    I decided and sent him a message making my point and telling him that I didn’t want to talk to him anymore.
    For me, he totally crossed the line. A line that I wouldn’t cross if he was in my position.
    I’ll always remember him as a really nice guy but trapped between what he was supposed to be for the society and who he really was.
    My advice for you when I’m reading this is to let it go. Just let it go. Keep the good moments and enjoy it.
    As a Middle Eastern person and from my experiences, culture roots and family bonds are too important because it’s something we have been raised with, it’s a part of the equation we make when we need to make any decision. Yet, some people choose to make this part smaller whereas other choose to make this part the biggest one.
    As a girl who has been involved in a “relationship” (true is I really wonder if we can call that a relationship) with a Saudi, I know how much it hurts to not having any choice in this, to just see some one being torn between what he wants and what he is supposed to do.
    I truly think that is one of the problem of KSA right now. Saudis have a brain like everybody else but they are just too afraid of the consequences.
    I will finish telling you. In a MTV program (don’t know exactly the name), some young Saudis were talking about the challenges their country was facing. One of the young Saudi was trying to meet in real life a girl he met online. Trying to get in a mall for women or family and after couldn’t make it, the guy said “You know which is the most popular movie for the young Saudi males? Romeo and Juliet. Because, this love story can’t happen. Like here. Love stories can’t happen”.
    I thought it was really sad but he pictured Saudi Arabia perfectly.

    Anyway, I hope my English is not that bad and again this is my personal opinion from experiences.

  36. You know what I am getting sick of? These stories of lovesick girls giving themselves away and settling for so, so much less than they could get. I am getting seriously angry as I read another account of “yes, he will do what his family want and I will stand with him till the end, etc.” Girlfriend!! Face the facts. The facts are he gave you up. Why are you trying to stand with him? What kind of sick martyrdom is this? Very convenient setup for the fellow, too, having a wife set up overseas and a lovey girlfriend being all understanding instead of kicking him in the balls as she should be.

    Move on, sister, move on to someone who will stand with you and embrace you in his life. The guy is as good as engaged. So why waste time standing with him!!

    I swear to god, I wish more women were less “sweet” (typed up “bitches” on my first try). I am married to a Saudi, very happily, have a great relationship with his parents, we have a little boy everyone adores. You know why? I told him on date #2 who I am, and what kind of relationship, if any, he will have with me. I make it very clear that if I don’t get what I want, I will walk and that the world is FULL OF MEN. There’s thousands of others just like him, and many thousands better than him.

    And you are likely much younger than I am! So your options are much better than mine! Move on. Don’t waste the pretty. Bitch up a little. Sorry for the bluntness, I wasted time in my youth so you don’t have to.

  37. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t remark on a forceful comment such as NN’s, but it reminds me of advice I was given thirty years ago re: an Egyptian man I was seeing. I was told essentially to straighten up, get angry, lay down the law, and let him know who was the boss.

    This sounds counter-intuitive, given the reputation of blustery Arab men and subservient Arab women, but the truth is that women do rule the Arab roost with respect to family life.

    (I took the advice, and it worked.)

  38. Regarding the bit about him not being “technically” engaged. Do you really want a boyfriend who is even contemplating marrying someone else in the summer? It isn’t just about love. It’s about self-respect. And without that you’ll never be happy even if somehow you get this guy. You need to have boundaries of what kind of treatment you will accept. And then you don’t make exeptions because you are “in love”. The boundaries are there precisely for when you ARE in “love”.

  39. This guy knew when he left KSA that he would return and follow the family/cultural script. He’s either not very bright or he’s conning you.

    Do everyone a favor, especially yourself – move on – please.

  40. I do agree that you might want to be a bit harsher with him. It seems cruel, but I think it’s for his own good. Maybe he’s afraid to stand up against his family, and he’s hoping (I’m just guessing, I don’t know) that you will be there for him, even after he’s married, so that he can have you, but he doesn’t have to make problems with his family. You have to force him to make a choice. If things are happening against his will, it’s in his best interest to stop it. He has to marry someone he chooses to marry, and not someone he was forced to. I really feel for you, you love him, of course, and I think he loves you too. But he has to take his responsibility. Don’t support him, don’t make life “easier” for him. Force him to make a decision, ultimately, that’s the best for him too.

  41. I did the same thing as you-took everyday I could get with my Saudi. That was over 20 years ago. They will leave you and the memories at best are bittersweet. Cultural ties go beyond the religious beliefs that we are all God’s children. The Saudi’s are tribal people these things don’t die for love. I wish they could.

    I only wish you the best but don’t invest years like I did seven to be exact only to be left behind. And you never really know when the last day is because sometimes they just disappear. You don’t need that.

  42. Thanks for the different perspectives everybody. The harsher words hurt, but I suppose it gives my heart something to chew on.

    I really did not even think about not being with my Saudi while he was engaged. Somehow in my mind I thought we could stay together until the physical departure for the wedding… but if an engagement is accepted, that means there is a young woman on the other side of this, who is looking forward to her new love. If it was me, and I discovered my future husband was with another woman during a time where I dreamt of our happy lives together… I’d be devastated.
    I couldn’t do that to someone else’s heart.

    I guess I have a lot to think about. But like I said, no regrets. I’m not going to come out of this broken- it’s an experience, bittersweet, but one I’ll be able to look back on and smile.

  43. Talanathas,
    I think it depends on what you mean by engaged and how he feels about it. Engaged as in they have signed the marriage documents and are in a courtship or engaged as in they are expected to sign the marriage documents soon? If they haven’t signed a marriage contract, then I see no problem with it because he hasn’t committed to the other girl yet. However, he is forced with making a big life decision. There are plenty of men and women in the world. If you two have something very special, then you both will have to fight hard to make it work. If one of you isn’t willing to, then it probably isn’t worth it and you are both better off with other people. I know you don’t want to affect his relationship with his family, but if he is truly very important to you, make sure he knows it. Do you think he will regret having married his cousin later on rather than you, or do you think he will be happier married to his cousin a few years down the road? 10+ years? What does he think? Also, what will make you happiest? These are the things for both of you to think about. When all else fails, I’d say go with your intuition and what you believe to be right.

    I will say this much: My Saudi and I had a huge misunderstanding. We broke up. Then later, we were getting along well together and this confused him because it didn’t “seem to work” the first time. Yet, he treats me as if he truly loves and cares deeply about me. I am doing my own thing now and waiting to see if I truly matter enough to him for him to pursue me. If not, it’s his loss. Meanwhile, I’m just working on me and moving forward with my life. So if a guy isn’t willing to stick with you through the tough times, cry as much as you need to but know that it’s his loss. Move on and find someone who will be there for you no matter what.

    As for being from different cultures, I do not think that is as important as having similar life values, preferred ways of living, beliefs, outlook on life, etc. I was raised with a mix of a lot of different cultures thrown together and can claim none as my own other than American (US). I have had exposure to many cultural groups, languages, etc. and am currently experiencing a little reverse-culture shock being back home from the UK now. If I am supposed to look for someone from a similar culture, then who do I choose? Someone who has been exposed to multiple cultures, I guess, but this could be someone from anywhere in the world. I believe in God but do not claim any religion as my own, so I am not sure who I’d date in terms of religious compatibility.

  44. @StrangeONe
    Sorry. YOu gave bad/inaccurate advice. If you have agree to marry someone you are engaged. THat is a commitment. Once the documents are signed you are legally married. Just because this technicality is used in Saudi to allow a time gap between marriage (engagement) and consumation, doesn’t mean they are not engaged. Unless you also don’t count western engagements? There is the telling of people and the planning of wedding events etc. just like in the west when a couple is engaged- even without documents. I think that was irresponsible advice.

    And no if doesn’t matter how he feels about it or if he’s been ‘forced”, If he is engaged, then he is. Or else he is incredibly dishonorable as is the woman he fools around with.

    Also, he may not have “agreed” to it yet. If he is allowing the family and the girl to believe there is an engagement when there is not- again he is totally without honour.

    Have some standards for yourself please.

  45. Talanathas,
    For the record, when I mention my Saudi, please know that overall he is a very sweet, honest, intelligent, kind and caring person. There is no other girl. He wasn’t using me; he truly cares and loves me. He just has a lot to figure out about love and relationships. But my point is that in the end, either both people are willing to put in the effort to make the relationship work or they aren’t. There’s nothing you can do to change what another person decides. It takes two to make it work. I really hope for the best (whatever that is) for both of you in this situation.

  46. Sandy,
    What I meant was that if he has agreed to marry the woman, then he has made a decision. If he hasn’t agreed to marry the woman, then it’s different. That is what I meant. Just because his family is expecting him to marry someone doesn’t mean that he has agreed to it yet. That was all I was saying. Maybe he is planning to tell his family in person that he will not agree to marry his cousin. Some things are better said in person than over the phone/skype. I have no idea what wedding arrangements, if any, have been made in this scenario.

  47. “Just because his family is expecting him to marry someone doesn’t mean that he has agreed to it yet”

    — Usually when you do not want to marry someone your parents picked, or have someone else in min, you put your foot down right away. you tell them, not to pursue marriage with anyone. and that you have someone in mind. that should put a stop to their searching , again this is the usual meathod.
    This is what my husband and my brother did, I’ve been on both sides, when we were thinking of linng up the women for my brotehr ro meet , He told us clearly that we should cease and desist and that he had someone in mind, even when he broke up, he told us not to pursue any other families.

    Irrespective of if you guys get married or not, if you are in a commited relationship, there must be commitment from both sides, otherwise i would take this as “having fun” . on both ends:-)

    The only way i see something coming out of this is if you pin him down and give him a deadline and ask him to inform his parents. yes usually they dont agree but hey they may surprise you guys, what’s the worst that will happen – they’ll say no to you and he’ll leave to marry his selected bride … well arn’t you in a worse position now ?

  48. Brown, I really liked your comment. Especially that you have boundaries, you know what they are and you have spine enough to drop somebody who crosses them.
    That was a really telling comment. If somebody is that callous towards you and your feelings…
    Your strength has protected you. I really appreciate your comment, coming from a Saudi girl, and your English was fine.

    Talanathas, you should think up for yourself what you want out of life and how you want to be treated. Forget about the boyfriend for a minute, just write down how you think you and other women deserve to be treated, and respected. What you want from your future partner, etc. What character traits you want from a partner, not only in how he treats you, but how he treats others.

    Keep this list and compare your bf and any other man with it. If a man doesn’t cut your list don’t waste your time. There are billions of men in the world, there are scores of men who will be honest and fair to those they deal with and who will really love you.

    NN,? great comment?

    Margot, are those happy marriages you talked of 20, 25 years ago still happy marriages? Have any of those men decided to ”upgrade” with a young juicy second wife after 15, 20 years of ”happy” marriage?

  49. Sandy’s comment ”You need to have boundaries of what kind of treatment you will accept. And then you don’t make exceptions because you are “in love”. The boundaries are there precisely for when you ARE in “love”.”
    is right on the spot.

    Especially in love it is vital to have the support of your brain. This rule has helped ”Brown” to keep herself from being duped, and it will help to keep any woman from harm.

    Talanathas, you should read the book ”He’s just not that into you”
    see some quotes here:

    In the Saudi version of this book you would find the following quotes:
    He is just not that much into you if,
    -he whines about being engaged to a cousin he doesn’t know how to avoid marrying and does not say ”No” to his family and the bride to be and her family
    -he has not introduced you to his mother and sisters asap
    -he does introduce you to his male family members
    -he wants to have sex with you before being married
    -he hasn’t told you that he can’t marry you until he’s at least 35 and that even then official permission can take from 5 years to eternity
    -he doesn’t consider it inevitable to live his future life with you outside of Saudi Arabia
    -he is already married or engaged but hasn’t bothered to tell you of this small detail
    -he starts pushing you to convert to Islam
    -he has not made clear to you the very severe restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia as well as the total loss of all human rights for women and the absence of laws protecting women (the reason he should not want to take you to Saudi ever)

  50. As I understand it an engagement is as binding as marriage in KSA, and unless the man has started yelling ”NO” from the very start of it’s being suggested, but instead says nothing or is dilly-dallying, he is engaged now, he is bound by honor and is basically as unavailable as when he was already married.
    I understand that as an engagement is talked about and arranged by the family and not vigorously opposed the matter is considered settled, also the girl’s reputation will be badly hurt if the man later retreats.
    As reputation is of vital importance in KSA he would seriously injure her and her future.
    In the case of an engagement a lot of people are involved outside the couple, her family, his family, loss of face, dishonor etc: all vitally important matters in KSA.
    I mean really life or death important.
    Especially for the bride.

    In this case it is the same family too, making things even worse. As we have been told the bloke did NOT cry out ”NO” the second he was told of the arrangement we have to regard him as being irrevocably tied to his cousin already. Any relationships he has with women abroad should be regarded as adulterous and deeply dishonorable, to both his bride and to the ”girlfriend”.

    Oh, and if he did suddenly grow a partial spine and called off the engagement right now the whole family will probably hate the American girlfriends guts forever and will never, ever accept her and do anything to make her life hell and destroy her marriage. And they can. Especially if they were to live in KSA with a spineless husband.
    She would end up either divorced, thrown out of the country, never see her children again (because they are not really her children bit HIS children and if he dies HIS family’s children)
    Or she remains married while he marries the cousin after all, or another Saudi woman and she will be the despised second wife. Living out her years in misery, hated, alone, away from friends and family, and if he decides so without being able to contact them, go out of the house, get medical treatment, or go back home (without children).

  51. I need to put my two cent in here having lived through something similar…I agree with Strangeone about the man agreeing to marry. Before my husband made his decision and told his parents about me as his choice, he had people calling his apartment trying to present their daughter as a choice. He told them they needed to talk to his parents as they were handling the arrangements. I was privy to some of these calls as they came in while we were at his house watching TV or eating or just hanging out. His PARENTS had picked out a few potential wives for him and the families of the girls had been alerted that they were on the “list” but there had bee NO acceptance of any of these potentials even though they had been accepted as suitable by his parents. they even had one or two front runners that they were pushing. Until my husband gave his acceptance he was not engaged. It was during this gap when women were being brought forth as possibles that I put my foot down and told him to stop being such a chicken and make a decision. He couldn’t go on forever avoiding the proposals and his parents had to know. So until it is a proposal accepted by both sides no matter how bad mom and dad want it, IMO it isn’t official.

  52. You can try to lay down the law with a Saudi student, but if he is from a very traditional family, chances are good that he will return to them without you. However, if he really wants to be with you, he WILL find a way to manage, even if it means leaving his country.

    Be happy that he was honest and didn’t leave you waiting for him. Like many have said here, chalk it up to experience and move on.

  53. @ Aafke-Art : well I’m from Egypt not Saudi Arabia. To come back to the point, you have to protect yourself because if you don’t, nobody will do it for you.
    I’m an Arab, I’m a Muslim, I’ve been raised in the same culture pattern than the Saudis, my own Saudi was really good with me. He told his parents about me, told his sisters and brothers, I was not an anonymous. And I did the same on my side.
    He asked me about my parents work and so on. He made me talk to one of his niece and she made sure that I knew how women were treated in KSA (asking me if I know that women were wearing alabaya but still could manage to go swimming or that they did have a house for example). So, I DO think that he was kind of serious regarding Egyptian standards.
    Yet, he crossed the line for both our countries’ standards. And some one who is doing that before a wedding, God knows what he can do after.

    You have to protect yourself. No matter what. Love doesn’t make everything. You have to be clear about what you expect from each other.

    Saudis can be gentle and let you dream about stuff you would never have dreamt of and in the same time, hide you stuff that appear not important for them but that are important for you. So, be sure everything is clear before thinking of moving on.

  54. The Saudis can be masters at privacy, protection of information and living multiple lives.

  55. Masters only of their own privacy…quite happy to expose others privacy. (blackmail is rampant, heresay and backbiting etc)

    The rest of your comment is just euphamisms for lying…are they masters at lying? One would have to assume so based on what we know of the culture etc.

  56. A previous post mentioned an MTv show featuring Saudi Arabia. It’s the True Life series and here is a link to the full episode:

  57. @Aafke-Art: I laughed a bit at your list, and with every item, I saw our relationship.

    I had really thought about this, and had considered everyone’s opinions. Though I generally am a bit meek when it comes to asking for what I want, I layed it out as far as what I expected.

    If my Saudi accepts any proposals while we are together, he will lose me.

    In turn, he has rejected the proposal.

    I beleive him when he tells me this. Though I have no proof, I want to trust. I go into this with a slight guard (especially after what I read from this site.) In time hopefully, that wall will be set to ease.

    I have gone further to say that in the year to come, pending we are still together (god willing) and as happy as we are now, he is to tell his family of me. I do not want to remain a secret, nor do I want to be kept a vacation girlfriend.

    I don’t want his family to hate me, or blame me for their sons actions. I have made it clear to him that it is his choice. I myself have grew a bit of a spine.

    So, this is the decision I have made for myself regarding my Saudi. No, a relationship cant survive on love alone. Mixed cultures can cause a lot of friction, and it will take a lot of work. I’m not the type of woman who is desperate for marriage or companionship: I chose this because I feel, for I don’t know what reason (a feeling that spooks me, frankly) that this is worth keeping.

  58. Oh my goodness, good for you, and good for him!! To be honest I wish I’d have grown a spine earlier in my own relationship. It’s hard to lay down the line, but I think it would have eliminated a lot of suffering if I had just been clear with myself and with my Saudi. Knowledge helps a lot with being able to do that.

    I totally hear you on not wanting to remain a secret, or to be a vacation girlfriend. Way to respect yourself! It won’t hurt to remain secret for a while longer, because telling his family will be a big step and you want to be really sure about your compatibility and your ability to endure hardships together first. But once you feel confident about that, then it’s his responsibility to you to tell his family if you want to stay together.

    You can’t force him to do what you really want (even if you could that wouldn’t end well), but you can make your expectations and actions very clear, which I think you did in a great way. Congrats!!

    A suggestion: You can send him some links from American Bedu or other similar sources to let him know the kinds of things you are hearing, and to help him become aware of the typical struggles that girlfriends/wives of Saudis go through. This is new for him too!

    A note about the comments where if the Saudi guy doesn’t tell the girl about the marriage approval process (where you can’t get permission until 35+, etc.): I feel like most of these young guys don’t know this. How many of you are familiar with your country’s own immigration process? They were born in Saudi and certainly never expected to marry a foreigner, so why should they be aware of these laws?

    I make the defense because my Saudi appears to be completely oblivious to the marriage approval process. He was amazed it took two years for our (American) friend to get a visitor’s visa. I think this is an area where awareness of these laws could save some heartbreak earlier on. I believe (most of) these guys are honest, just clueless.

  59. FYI: All Saudi students are briefed in regards to relationships to foreign women. It is very typical for a guy to feign innocence or ignorance rather than have the gumption to explain the customs to a foreign woman with whom he has started a relationship.

  60. Carol is so right,
    Every single one of them gets a brief and It is so funny how when someone mentions it it jogs their memory:-)

    there’s quite a few pairs i know of right now in the same situation, actually this one looks a bit more promising, maybe this is destined for happiness.
    good luck

    There are quite a few saudi who marry outside their culture AGAINST family approval. like it was mentioned above it all comes down to having a “SPINE”

  61. Let’s consider that growing “a spine” might not mean choosing the non-Saudi woman.

    Let’s also admit that a man and a woman can love more than one person, not necessarily simultaneously, but surely with equal, if not different, intensity.

    I almost feel sorry for Saudi students in the West and the women they attract. Neither can resist the pull of human nature, whether they realize the potential for emotional pain, or not. What seems like deceit on the part of the male may well be nothing more than his own lack of resources in the face of overwhelming influences.

    Whereas women in decades past did not have resources to learn about Saudi culture, women of today certainly do. I’d like to think that Saudi-Western marriages today have better chances of success than those of the past.

  62. i wouldn’t lay the blame just on the males, I see a few students who are playing the field — and will absolutely go back and marry mama’s pick. – It’s starring me in the face.. but obviously not their girlfriends..
    Witht he amount of resource available i’m suurprised these girls don’t enlighten themselves, maybe love is blind,deaf &dumb .

    Maybe having lived with a saudi for a few decades makes me recognize a player when i see one.

    All i know of the few on-going romances i see real life , i’m not too optimistic :-)

    Plus to those women who want to change in the hopes of getting him to marry you — grow a spine. totally not worth it…

  63. There are a lot of resources available regarding other peoples experiences with mixed culture relationships… unfortunately coming from a society and family that accepts mixing cultures, it did not cross my mind that “hey, maybe this guy comes from a place where this is taboo”.
    In retrospect… I’m not sure why that would’ve even crossed my mind. He was the one to pursue me over a few weeks, and once we did start seeing eachother, we talked about our opinions regarding mixed faiths and nationalities being together. It all seemed like clear sailing.
    In the early stages, after he dropped a few hints about his culture and red tape regarding marriage, I researched the topic myself, and found a plethora of information. But at that point, I was already in it, and want to stay in it.

    I dont consider it a trap, or a deception. He answers all questions I ask about the rules of his culture (and accurately, if the internet is a proper source) so I don’t think he’d intentionally hid anything from me.

    Yes, maybe he will go back without me. In my opinion it’s too early to tell. I don’t want him to tell his family about me until he’s absolutely sure he wants to be with me, and is ready for what that means.

  64. On the note of resources: That’s what they are, just that- resources. Other peoples experiences may give us hints as to what direction this may take, but I won’t let what I read deter me.
    I’m not ignoring what I chose not to hear- I’ve taken it all in. I just refuse to give up based on the results of others.

  65. I can’t help but ask again: what about religion? you mentioned his parents wanting a muslim wife for him. have you talked about it with him? what is his stand on it? what are your thoughts? if i may ask of course:)

  66. Religion is extremely important to him as well as his family. I truly respect those of faith, and am curious about his practices. While I don’t consider myself a deeply religious person, we have talked about our beliefs in regards to relationships and society in general.

    As far as any expectations as far as faith and us being together, I do not know if he has any.
    We’ve spoken about how it is wrong to pressure others into faith (irony), and equally wrong to judge a person for being very/non-religious.

    I’m not sure if being with him, as far as his family is concerned would involve converting. I don’t beleive that one should convert for the sheer name-sake, as it devalues a beleif, and I don’t see me converting any time soon. Though we share a lot of the same morals and values, my standpoint on higher power is different.

  67. Sorry to be nitpicky…but religion cannot be “extremely important” to him or else he would not have you as a girlfriend to begin with. According to his religion (Saudi version) he is not even allowed to be alone with you because you are not related or married…so that sounds like an oxymoron to me.

    Im not saying your doing anything wrong, from my point of view dating is quite fine…but from his side dating is not allowed in his that statement just doesn’t ring true.

  68. I think religion can be extremely important to him but of course the human urges play their part too. it’s just extremely hipocrytical i think.
    from my experience i would urge you to have a serious discussion on religion asap and make him declare his stance on it. So that you know where you stand, especially if you don’t see yourself converting any time soon to any religion.
    As I said, it’s okay to give someone the benefit of the doubt and think that his intention are sincere but at the end of the day I heard about only two cases when a muslim man married a non-muslim lady and the marriage lasted. That would be Radha and Susie. well… i heard from my ex that being a non-muslim is: “wrong, soooo wrong!”. i think tolerance of somebody’s religious views is fine in a relationship, but i think for a muslim living with a person who doesn’t follow islam might pose quite a problem (sorry for generalization, of course it won’t be true in all cases but I rarely hear about marriages such as Radha’s or Susie’s).

  69. I think it is important to separate people’s experiences from other less flexible things. For example it is true that some women have successful marriages in Saudi and some do not. However, it is ALWAYS true that the legal system will completely support the man. So while my experience is good- it doesn’t change the fact that my husband can marry another wife, make me say at home and/or send me out of the country without my children on an exit-only VISA. Those options are always open to him.

    Also, even in a successful marriage as you get older certain things change. you realise if you are widowed you get a pittance and there will be no SS and no pension, and that you are a bit late to be starting a career and so some planning is in order. Many Saudi men will not see the need for this because “Islam is perfect” and inshallah you would be fine. Practially speaking it doesn’t always work out that well.

    When you are younger if you are widowed, your children will go to a Saudi male relative. They are not yours. You can not leave the country with them. You may be forced to leave by whoever gets your children.

    Also, generally, there is such an overwhelming conviction here that Islam is “right” that there is usually an unspoken expectation that after you get to know about Islam- if you are a decent person you will convert. So even when they say “free choice” they expect you will because it is obvious to them once you are no longer ignorant you will convert. Or else you are being stubborn and rejecting truth.

    Also to consider, the schools here are terrible (though finally some progress being made) and how will you feel raising your children Muslim?

    I agree he can be very religious and dating at the same time. It’s inconsistant, but it’s what they do. Because it is convenient for them- though they would never excuse a Saudi girl doing it.

  70. Sandy’s comment is the wisest one I’ve read here so far- every word. It bears reading a second and third time.

  71. While living in Saudi Arabia, I had a marriage proposal from a wonderful Saudi man. We ultimately decided against marrying.

    My greatest concern was that I’d be living there the rest of my life (or at least the rest of his life) at a great disadvantage, without any members of my own family available, and without the means to enforce my own sense of autonomy.

    His greatest concern was that I would not become fully integrated into his family and culture.

    We were both middle-aged at the time, and had been married previously. I never regretted the experience, or its result.

  72. I really am enjoying all the information and experiences your all bringing forward in this thread. It’s giving me so much to think about in this process.

    My stance on him and his religion is complicated, as Im not 100% where he is at it with himself. He is not at peace with his actions, I know this. (he’s torn, between what he thinks, what his culture says, and what religion is telling him).
    It may be a little hypocritical to say he is very religious, despite his actions. My thoughts on religion (and I am a rather non-religious person) is that if there was a god, he would be a peaceful and loving god… and though we make mistakes as we grow up, as long as our core is good, and our actions reflect or core… then in the end we’d be forgiven.
    I know that there are a lot of rules that each religion totes, and different degrees of severity of our actions.

    I know that he has been taught to think and worship a certain way, and though he deviates from those teachings now, I don’t think he’s any less a spiritual and faithful person.

    If this is something that is to be, then of course there will be changes in how we both live our lives. I (previous to meeting him) was already considering a move to the middle east (as I have stated before) so I have done basic research on day to day life (this blog has helped a lot!) and he doesn’t hesitate during prayer times to take some time out for himself, despite me being there (I have never made him feel awkward or guilty for his faith).

  73. @Sandy

    I thought there was a new decree that Saudis marrying non-Saudi women have to give wife and children an unconditional permission to leave at any time. A recent development allegedly. True or false?

  74. I heard rumours to that effect but have yet to see a credible reference. First of all- non Saudi women could always leave. One “rumour” I read clarified it was the women’s children. Not the man’s – as in her children from a previous marriage. Another said it isn’t retroactive. That is definatly true, if there is a new decree because I still need permission when I take my kids out.

    It doesn’t seem consistant with the Saudi way that they let a foreign woman unconditionally remove a Saudi child. Especially if the woman is a Christian. I doubt there is any new decree.

  75. @Sandy

    “(…) after you get to know about Islam- if you are a decent person you will convert. So even when they say “free choice” they expect you will because it is obvious to them once you are no longer ignorant you will convert. Or else you are being stubborn and rejecting truth.”

    oh dear that’s so true! i heard that many times.
    but what if you are no longer ignorant and still don’t want to convert? are alternative ideas accepted? if you don’t convert then it means that you are not a decent person, not a good person? seems like individual and what she/he stands for is not enough to earn respect of others? you need to be of a right religion too?

    may i ask sth? due to the unique saudi environment, the system, does it change the dynamics of a relationship and if so to what extent?
    thank you for your comments, they are always spot on! i like the fact that you always stress that you have a good life thanks to the way your husband chooses to conduct himself, but the system is always on the side of the man.

    @ Talanathas

    you have quite similar views on religion as me. but i couldn’t possibly let my children be indoctrinated into any religion. if they choose any faith in their adult life, i will not stand in their way tho.
    well, good luck in whatever decision you will decide to take:)

  76. there have been some outstanding comments by radha, sandy, coolred and marahm telling it like it is.

    we all want to think we have found true love. A Saudi can be so extremely charming, confident and persuasive. I am not saying all are out to take a woman for a ride but there is less than a positive track record with the young (20’s) Saudi students who are coming out of the Kingdom to study.

  77. With all due respect, let it go.
    Mine did have a backbone, I knew his famiy, we lived most of our married life in the states. The culture/tribalism is too strong to overcome. After 25 years of marriage – business built together, home built together, a lovely daughter after a difficult struggle – my wonderful guy, who was so different from the others, has a secret Moroccan wife and child. I’m done with him and feel I can breathe. But I will always live in fear of him taking my daughter there where I could not get her back. I’m still trying to figure out who he was and what I did with my life. Very, very few of these marriages work.

  78. I agree with AB on this one. I think a lot of people have given really good advice from different viewpoints.:)

    I am glad that your relationship seems to be doing better. As others have mentioned, I’d definitely talk to him about religion and see what his expectations are, particularly if he is deeply religious.

    My view is that religion can be a good or bad influence depending on the ways people choose to implement religion in their lives and what the individual believes about their religion (and that of others), how that influences the individuals’ life, society and culture, etc.

    I personally don’t discriminate based on religion as a whole, but I do care how a particular person’s individual beliefs will eventually affect mine. The person could be Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Jewish, or whatever. What is most important to me is what they feel are the important parts of their religions/beliefs (i.e. their values), how this affects their behavior, and what this means for me (and of course any future family we may have together).

    Just as important, IMO, is how the two of you will handle misunderstandings, disagreements and differences of opinion/beliefs such as religion, for example. This could be anything at all, though, to include expectations of household duties, where to eat out next, how to spend your holiday, and how many future children to have.

  79. @Talanathas,
    There is probably another component in this which complicates something. And this can happen with all-American couples too. What do you do when you find someone, but neither of you are really in a place to get married? I mean it is not only a case of your Saudi “choosing” one of you- but choosing whether or not he is ready for marriage. It sounds as though he is not, which means he should say no even if you were not in the picture. And I can understand him not being ready for a permanent commitment to you. HOWEVER, if he knows he is incapable of following through with you, should things work out, he should break it off now. It is very selfish for him to carry on with you until he goes home- if he knows that is what he is going to do. Also, no how much you love him if it isn’t going to work there is no reason to “enjoy things while you can”. You are preventing yourself from moving on and meeting a viable life-partner. And college is a good place meet them.

  80. This is such a common story.
    Really girl, get out now!
    There is no future in this. I have read nothing in your story which gives hope. this man shows in no way he is really wanting you for a life partner. Saudi student mostly just want to fuck around. and they lie to you easily.

    And religion? It does matter very much it is everything in saudi. even if a saudi man seems open now, that will change 100% when his feet touch saudi soil, or when he is 15 years further.
    Also many saudi men think it is their right to have a younger wife when you get old and have kids.
    And they will lie to you.
    and they often get a religious midlife crisis after they have led the wild life. As long as they repeant early enough they will still go to jannah.
    And it is the woman who who will have to bear most of the burden.

    And if you are not muslim you will be expected to convert. if you do not that is all the proof the family needs to know you are an evil person. if you do convert you will never be considered true muslim anyway.
    As a foreigner you will always be despised. never be trusted. never be good enough. you will never be one of THEM.
    Maybe your children will be accepted, maybe not. but you never will be. because you will never be saudi. you will always be second class.
    And if he would marry you the family will still push him to marry his cousin too.
    Which will put you in a very bad spot as the despised interloper.

    I get so many mails from so many girls in the same position or worse. do you know a saudi student can marry you just to have halal sex and then divorce you as he goes back to saudi? there is a fatwa of BinBaz allowing this. I know of a muslim girl who was misused in this manner. Seems your student isn’t even wanting to go through that trouble.

    There is nothing at all in anything I have read in the post and in your comments which show a glimmer of hope.
    But there is a lot which shows you have nothing here. no future. no commitment NOTHING!

    I am sorry to be hard, but I want to save you from evil.
    You really need to get over this if you have the slightest regard for yourself . Dump the guy NOW!

  81. @Save the Women,
    While I agree this case (and most) are not likely to be successful relationships long-term- I have not experienced people doubting my conversion or considering me not a real Muslim. Also, I have been completely accepted by my husbands family, and I know others who have as well. I will say it makes for a MUCH better experience if the family accepts you. It has been really hellish for those who have not been accepted. I have even seen that most children from mixed marriages that work tend to settle back in Saudi Arabia. That’s for the girls too.

    However you are right it is entirely possible the family may blame her for ruining the marriage that was “supposed” to happen. And that they may even try to get him to marry his cousin in addition her. And that would be a very bad position to be in.

    It is also very true that mid-life crises sometimes takes the form of a wife #2 instead of an affair which is more commen in the west. To me they are the same thing except there is no escaping another wife- especially when she starts having children. However, only a VERY small percentage of men do marry a second wife.

  82. I am glad to see that this post has reached its way into the Saudi press. picked up excerpts of this post as well as linked to American Bedu:

    I have another upcoming post pertaining to Saudi students and relationships that delivers an important message to the Saudi students and the women who fall for them.

  83. Sandy said, “I have even seen that most children from mixed marriages that work tend to settle back in Saudi Arabia. That’s for the girls too.”

    I, too, have known such families, and “most” is the correct word, but I must say that I know of one family that has become fractured because all five kids grew up, migrated to America, and started marrying Americans, even the girl.

    The Saudi father of these kids (and husband of my American friend) is devastated, refusing to accept his daughter’s marriage to an American (Muslim), and now refusing to come to the States. This has been a stable family (all Muslims) for nearly thirty years, living the entire time in Riyadh, and spending summers in either the US or Europe.

    So, the moral of the story is that even the stable families- just like the stable ones in the West— are susceptible to destructive forces that could not have been foreseen.

    I would not recommend canceling marriage plans because of fear of what might happen twenty years down the road, if all other factors (like the ones we’ve been discussing) support success of the marriage.

    The odds are definitely in favor of those couples who are of the same religion, enjoy acceptance from family members, and agree on lifestyle. Living in different countries brings out different qualities in peoples’ personalities. Even when the couple is cross-cultural, or maybe especially when the couple is cross-cultural, they need to know each other in both countries, and be comfortable with both living styles, and not just for summer vacations.

  84. “do you know a saudi student can marry you just to have halal sex and then divorce you as he goes back to saudi?”

    If he marriage is legalized in US and he divorces islamically insaudi are the couple not still married legally here?

    I didn’t think many saudi students did this . especially get a marriage lic. that would be an idiotic thing to do, go around marrying and divorcing and having the women get half your assets ( legally) ..

    I see more the love them, sleep with them, leave them type. Plus it would be a great help if there was someway for these girls to verify if their loving saudi was happily married back home or partially married or some such thing…

  85. in talking about the mixing of families and acceptance, one of the moments which touched my heart is when Abdullah, acting as translator, introduced our families. It was so cute when his 70 something mother asked my 80 something stepmother if she would teach her to drive when she came to American to visit! That question came into the conversation within 5 minutes of when they started talking!

    For further chance of success and for the foreign woman to not feel like an island in Saudi Arabia with no bridge to her family, make sure that the two families do have contact. If they can not visit, use Skype, phone and email. When the Saudi family see their foreign DIL as a loving daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, I believe it does facilitate acceptance into the Saudi family.

  86. I never realized how hard an interracial relationship could be.
    Why are there so many rules set up against a Saudi taking a westerner? I am ready and willing to accept him as a person, and his country, family and culture will reject me based on my nationality.

    I guess you don’t realize the details until they matter to you. Then it all gets a little too clear.

    I’ve made friends with many Saudis (my city has a huge student population) – I treat them as if I would any of my other friends, and they treat me the same.
    Are they so different when they go home?
    I talk with them, and they insist no. Nothing is different… except here, it’s okay that people know.

    This experience is leaving me a little insecure, but more sad for the students that come here. They’re portrayed like monsters.
    And when a relationship fails, my friends and family are waiting to jump in and yell “I told you so!”.
    Where’s the progress in that?

    Maybe they do go home to their friends and cousins and brag about their Western trophies.
    Maybe they do fall in love but know that it’s a pointless battle.
    Maybe they want to change how things are, and just can’t.

    I’m not trying to be a one man army, advocating the acceptance of cross-cultural relationships. I’m not trying to say all the Saudi students travelling abroad are completly innocent.
    I just want what I have to work out.

    I don’t want to sound like I’m stomping my feet, but it’s really not fair, is it? If his mother and sisters knew of me, would they personally reject me?
    If I was presented as a Saudi Muslim, would they accept me?
    Don’t I have the same heart and soul either way?

  87. Can I be in your army?:-)

    There are good apples and bad apples. Some Saudi students are completely peaceful sweethearts, others act like a kid in a candy store. American men (and women!) can be just as bad – I’m hearing tons of tales of cheating husbands, cheating wives, everything (what’s the divorce rate in Canada?). This is not a problem unique to Saudis. Perhaps Saudis are a bit more practiced at hiding things and being two-faced due to some aspects of their culture… But that doesn’t mean we can’t love them. It just means we have to be aware.

    Listen to what people say, but remember it’s their lives and their experiences. You are still building your own life. Learn from them, apply their knowledge to your own situation so that you can avoid their suffering. Have hope coupled with knowledge of the potentials, both good and bad.

    There ARE some good stories. Uhhh, American Bedu’s, shall I say? I have two friends who are offspring of Saudi-American marriages, whose parents are still happily together with grown-up children. YES, the Saudi-foreigner marriage has some unique problems that may turn into roadblocks, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!!

    It seems you are really trying to be conscious of the obstacles ahead of you, and not let love blind you. I believe you are capable of having love and hope for you and your Saudi while still making wise decisions. Recall that so much depends on his individual family’s reaction (they may indeed accept you), and the groundwork you have done with your Saudi. Any relationship takes work and dialogue to make it strong. Keep talking to him, keep being honest even about the tough stuff!

    My Saudi is telling his family about me in a few weeks. I’ll let you know how that goes:-) I’m still praying that both of us can stay out of the “Saudi Student Heartbreak” category. Everyone has my permission to laugh and shake your head at me as you wish. I’m well aware of the likelihood of heartbreak, am prepared if it happens, but will not lose hope yet.

  88. I hope all turns out well for you Catherine – I really hope that his family accepts you, and that you are able to meld your lives together in happy compromise.

    I try not to sound completely delusional when I write about my experience and views here. I want people to know I am doing my research and taking everything into consideration.

    I believe that within the next few generations of Saudi students, and with globalization, things will begin to change- things are going, but slowly.
    There are deep roots here, and it’s best not to yank too tightly- a drastic change of any kind will only reflect badly on Westerners, in my opinion.

    But there is a growing population of young Saudis who want and are experiencing changes. I guess that’s true of any society, but this is in my highlight for now.

    I don’t think they’ll ever completely disregard their heritage or cultural values (this is probably a fear for a changing society) but the country will begin to adapt, as all others are, to a global influence.
    I guess only time will tell.

    On saying this, I’ve been speaking with people have been born (or moved to at a young age) and raised in Saudi Arabia, but not Saudi themselves- while they have a lot of the same values, it seems that they are far more open (still not as open as I’d hoped) to relationships with people of varying nationalities.
    I’m wondering if the Saudi people are taught (whether through their Religion, school system, or families) to distrust or even look down on other societies. Does this stem come from fear of change?

    What are the official reasons why it is hard for a Saudi student to bring a foreign wife back into the country?
    I’ve heard plenty opinions, but I’d like to know exactly why.

  89. It’s hard first and formost because it is generally illegal. One needs to get special permission. Because these marriages seldom work out- it is practically speaking easier not to allow them.

    I feel many of you are still only addressing half the problem. Yes the family might accept you, you might get permission, some people will be open etc. etc. But you seem to ignore that your legal status and the system will always have you in a disadvantaged situation. No husband however wonderful can fix that for you. And it can be difficult to live in a place where you know you have no rights.

  90. I am an America girl who married a Saudi. The only difference was he had just became an American Citizen through the military service. We have been married over 55 years and the marriage was a rough go. Many times clashes between our cultures caused me to want to get out, but I was stuck. We had children and I could not provide for them. I have had a life time of regret. Things are a little better now but if I had it to do over I would not have married him. The difference are too strong. He got his way all the time. Our children suffered. There is still problems. When they married Americans and became Christians he refused to see them for several years. Our family has been a walking a tightrope.
    Please do not marry out of your culture. You will regret it. I know!

  91. @ sandy, I am one sided, yes. But I think we have to be. you see in this post and others that nothing of the truth really gets through.
    Always the same: Oh, ah, is it that bad?
    And then: But my boyfriend is different, he loves me.
    And all the while we see nothing is different.
    Same old story.

    sugarcoating in this situation is wrong.

    I know a muslim girl which was treated so. married to a saudi student and the week he graduated he packed his bags, told her she is divorced three times, flew back to saudi.
    only islamic marriage ofcourse. the girl was devistated. Did not understand what had happened to her. Was left without money, without explanation. Poor girl…

    you are right in your last comment as well.
    Women in saudi are slaves.
    what does it take to get these girls to understand they will ave no more rights as slaves once in saudi! if all is well with your husband you can manage, but he can take any freedom, anything at all away from you at any time!

    There are no rights for women. there are no laws to protect women. there is nothing for you but the goodwill of your husband/owner. And that can fade away very quickly.
    You really are stupid if you allow anybody to put you in such a situation. You have no excuse in this day and age. it is all there on the internet.
    And situation of women has actually become worse in saudi in the last decades.

    At least marriage will not happen. they really crack down on marrying foreigner at the moment, they will loos a few years of study and be very unhappy at the end but that is all.

    @talanatas, happy marriages have happened with saudi men. but only with exceptional saudi men, who behaved very differently from the start as your guy did.
    Your guy is NOT one of these exceptional saudis. your guy is a normal saudi who just wants to have a bit of fun until he goes back to marry his cousin.
    He may even have been swept away by your affair, he may even be unhappy but he will tow the family line in the end, while keeping you to complain about and comiserate with.
    but he will marry his cousin and waiste your time. maybe even after he is married.

    @ talanatas and @ catherine. you will have to insist living together in another country as saudi.
    best chance for happiness. if a man really loves you he will be happy and willing to do that for you.

    you will not be able to live in saudi in any case, as ”your saudi” has to be 35 -and he will need a fortune in bribe money- before he can apply.
    And then it will take from 5 years, to 10 years to 15 years to never.
    So don’t order your weddingdress before you are 40 years old.

  92. @ talanathas and @ catherine, you should read this post on my blog, as well as the comments.
    also, there as well as here- sandy has made exceptional good comments.

  93. Speaking from experience the Saudi man will certainly change once back in Saudi. Life is most definitely not the same. Many young men do not like to acknowledge this for fear of scaring a young woman away. I am asking a Saudi woman to come forward here and respond from the Saudi female cultural and traditional perspective.

  94. Save the Women,
    My story is different. My ex and I broke up because of personality conflicts. He never lied to me about his intentions. Yes, we had problems (mostly related to mis-communication), but it wasn’t all that much different than if I had been with someone from a culture similar to mine. We still are good friends, and overall he is a good guy. We just both happen to do things that really agitate the other from time to time. However, I don’t think like most people and neither does my ex, so I am not sure this is a good example of a typical situation. Of course, my point is that relationships are as unique as the two people in them.

    The legal system is most definitely a problem for a young couple especially, but I would like to think that if the guy is willing to stand up against his family for his significant other, then he’d be willing to live in another country to stay with his sweetheart. This may not always be the case, though. I can tell you that my ex was willing to live in another country had our relationship worked out.

    The best advice I can give as to where to live is to find a place where both people in the relationship are content and able to pursue their goals in life, whatever they may be. Read as much as you can and visit any places you are considering moving to, if at all possible, beforehand. Try to see through the eyes of both men and women from that country what life is like there, how they feel about it, and why. After doing this with a couple of places, pick the place that both of you will be happiest in. Be sure to consider what the laws are and what rights you will have in a given country, too, of course.

    If your significant other isn’t willing to compromise to help you achieve your goals, then it is better to dump him now than to stay with someone that isn’t going to be supportive of you. Of course, this goes both ways.

  95. @Thalanathas

    “I am so confused by this- The religion says that we are all equals. But his family (who are also of strong faith) will only accept a Muslim Saudi wife for their son. Doesn’t that contradict their religion?”

    I don’t know where you came up with this. The Islamic worldview certainly does NOT view non-Muslims and Muslims as equals. Not in marriage, not in civil matters, not in culture, not in statehood. This key concept pervades the entire body of Muslim jurisprudence, most of which admittedly is at least a century old. This is doubly so for the Islamic judicial writing that came out of KSA, with Bin Baz & Co. doing most of the writing. So no, it does not contradict their religion to view you as unequal, and indeed inferior, to a Muslim, Saudi wife.

  96. NN i gotta ask, sorry if it’s too personal. your husband is muslim as far as i remember. how is it possible that you get on well with such different views? does he know what you think? thanks!

  97. Kasia, no problem. Yes, he knows, of course. All Muslims are not the same; not every Muslim gets his brain washed with the same detergent.

    My husband is free thinker first, Muslim second. He has a mind of his own and does not look at Muslim theology as something that he HAS to agree with. I verified all that before we got too involved. I would not have married him otherwise. I also avoid being “too accommodating” because I don’t think religion deserves to be accommodated above other considerations, such as my personal preference. I guess I just don’t have the fear of offending religious sensibilities that others do.

    For instance, my husband doesn’t drink and is uncomfortable around alcohol. He asked me if I would consider giving up alcohol when he proposed. I was like hell no, go marry an Arab if that’s what you care about. I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner and don’t see why I should be giving this up, and I didn’t. No one can pressure you without your permission.

  98. I can’t help noticing that those women who are actually married, and/or actually living in KSA have a far more negative view of this situation than those who have boyfriends outside of KSA.
    That should give the girls reason to think.
    I really think that the opinions of women who have or are living with a Saudi or Middle Eastern Arab man count for a lot more than the opinions of women who are equally uninformed and do not know what it is to be married and living in KSA.

    I know it is nicer to look at the more positive comments, but they are from the less-informed commentators, and should be valued as such.

    NN, loved your comment, very educative, with any man I think?

    I don’t see why there is this idea that religions ”deserve” respect. I give respect where it is due but religions have done nothing to earn it yet.

    STW. *So don’t order your weddingdress before you are 40 years old.*
    Good point!

    Thalanathas, *The religion says that we are all equals.*
    Where did you get that idea from?
    Not from reading the Quran, not from reading and understanding the prayers routine.
    If a Muslim does the proper routine he/she will curse the Christians and Jews a minimum of 17 times a day.
    Christians and Jews are ”Dogs and Monkeys”. In a Muslim, Sharia ruled country they at the most have ”dhimmi” status, which is lesser than Muslim.
    And that’s only the people of the book: people who believe in other religions (and atheists) are less than animals.
    Or just ”breathing machines”. And therefore they can be mistreated and killed etc.
    The religion allows slavery. The prophet himself, the best of men, traded in slaves and made slaves out of free people he conquered. Women slaves can be raped at will: this is written in the holy books.
    Women are worth less than men. As a witness they are only worth 1/2 of a man, as a spouse they are only 1/4 of a man, their children are property of the man, not the mother, in Saudi culture women are worth zilch.
    If you evaluate their worth with the amount of rights and self determination they have, and how many laws there are to protect their human rights…

    So if you want a religion which has inequality and discrimination, including gender discrimination, written in it’s holy books and laws you can hardly get it better documented as in Islam.

    If you are that badly informed about your boyfriend’s religion and culture I think you are on very thin ice indeed.

  99. I put a lot more weight in the views of those who are or have been married to a Saudi and/or currently live in the Kingdom (No offense to anyone in any other relationship with a Saudi Student).
    Experience tends to speak for itself, so I’m taking it into sincere consideration.

    Regarding the religion – Is it actually taught to them that other faiths are considered sub-human? I’ve read and watched about the Textbook debate (referring to the killing of Jews and Christians in regular school books around the country) and am in shock that a religion would teach such things!

    God shouldn’t be about just following a guideline of behaviors and thoughts… Even more-so, a religion should never promote hate.
    I’ve never studied or been into the details of any religion. I’ve taken the best of what is presented, and try to follow that in my own life. This could (will) cause problems if I ever get married into a culture where religious practices are more-or-less life.

    I’d love to hear more from women in the Kingdom [Both Saudi and other], and their opinions on oppression.

    I still want to know the actual reasons (monarchy/government) laws are so stringent when it comes to allowing foreign mates into the country. There must be some economic reasons, but I have a feeling it’s simply an unwillingness to change.
    Does anyone know why the laws were put in place?

  100. @Talanathas.

    You sound like an outspoken girl, If and when you get to saudi married or otherwise i’d advise you to refrain from talking about religion:-)
    If you convery and beleive in islam, good for you, if not be quiet outside and do whatever you want in your home .

    As for the actual laws, why it is so, one reason told to me was because of the rising number of men marrying foreign wives, there is an increase in the number of Saudi spinsters.

    irrespective of why the laws are in place, it’s not going to change anytime soon, get used to it, when your spouse turns 35, he can try . till then you’re stuck outside if he wants to go live there.

    all i can say if you’re hell bent in marrying this man – go ahead, just make sure you have some means of earning for your survival & good luck.

  101. My opinion is that very marriage is different and can succeed across the lines of age, race, religion, politics, health and wealth – but only if love for the other is greater than these. There are no rules, every couple is different and only they know the truth about their relationship. That is almost 40 years of experience talking.

    Anyway – About 10 years ago I pulled this page off the US State Dept website. It was later removed due to pressure by the Saudi government because of the negative tone to the information provided, even if basically honest. I am posting it here as a public service.

    US State Department on Marriage to Saudis


    The following information has been prepared by our Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to assist American citizen women in understanding more fully the cultural and legal differences they may face if they are considering marrying a Saudi man.

    Our Foreign Service posts in Saudi Arabia estimate that approximately 500 American women reside in the Kingdom with their Saudi husbands. Our Embassy is acutely conscious of the dual-national marriages which fail, monitoring approximately 40 child custody cases and instances of extreme marital discord and abuse. But American women who are both happily and unhappily involved in relationships with Saudi men admit to having been appallingly ignorant of the Kingdom and its culture prior to their betrothal. All the women interviewed strongly urged prospective wives of Saudi men to investigate the Kingdom and meet the Saudi in-laws before making a commitment to a culture antithetical to the one in which they were raised.

    Survivors of dual-national marriages provide a checklist for American women to consider prior to making a commitment to living in the Kingdom. The stories of those whose marriages have failed underline the necessity of looking before leaping into the cultural chasm that separates Saudi husbands from their American wives.

    The following advice and guidelines for women considering marriage to Saudi nationals were culled from interviews with women well known to our Embassy for their embattled relations with their Saudi spouses, from anecdotes from women whose husbands are well known to the Embassy because of their positions in government or business, as well as conversations with women happily or tolerably married to middle and lower class Saudis.


    First, the American citizen spouse of a Saudi national is with a handful of exceptions – always female. Saudi women are prohibited from marrying non-Arabs except with a special dispensation from the King. (A dispensation is also required before a Saudi woman may marry an Arab who is not a citizen of the Gulf Cooperation Council – i.e., Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates). The Embassy is only aware of four American men who are married to Saudis. A few daughters of Saudi diplomats, raised and educated abroad, are also known to have received Kingly dispensation for marriage to Europeans. Most Saudi women who are married to Westerners tend to reside abroad with their husbands.

    American spouses fall into two broad categories: Those who are married to well-off, westernized Saudis, and those who are married to not well-off and non-westernized Saudis. Both meet their husbands when they are students in the U.S. The former tend to maintain homes in the Kingdom and in the West, they socialize with other dual-national couples, they send their children abroad for college education (sometimes high school), travel frequently, and while in the Kingdom have the luxuries of drivers, servants and villas separate from where the Saudi in-laws reside. Their husbands permit them to appear before men to whom they are not related, accept – if not encourage their desire to find employment and generally do not require them to veil fully (i.e., cover the fact with one or more layers of cloth) while in public. The women are allowed to travel separately with the dual national children. The women may or may not have converted to Islam; their conversion may or may not be sincere. These represent the minority of dual-national marriages.

    Most American women fall in love with westernized Muslim traditionalists, leery of the West and its corrosive ways, and eager to prove their wives’ conformity to Saudi standards. The husbands are not Arab Princes” of western folklore; rather, they are part of the vast majority of Saudis who “get along” with the help of extended family members and marginal expectations. Their American citizen wives are often from the South/Southwest (Where many Saudis prefer to study), they have virtually no knowledge of Saudi Arabia other than what their fiances have told them, and do not speak Arabic. When they arrive in the Kingdom, they take up residence in the family’s home where family members greet them with varying degrees of enthusiasm and little English. Typically, their only driver will be their husband (or another male family member), their social circle with be the extended family, and they will not be permitted to work or appear uncovered among men to whom their husband is not related. Initially, the American citizen spouse will be almost entirely isolated from the large western community that resides in the Kingdom. Gradually, the spouses who survive, form a network with other American citizen women married to Saudis. The majority of American citizen spouses fall into this category.


    Inevitably, American citizen spouses characterize their Saudi husbands during their school days in the United States as being completely “westernized”; drinking beer with the best of them, chasing after women and generally celebrating all the diversities and decadence of a secular society. Women married to Saudis who did not fit the stereotype of the partying, or playboy/prince, are careful to point out that their spouses nevertheless displayed a tolerance toward all of these diversions and, particularly, toward them. In other words, the Saudi-American relationship virtually always blossoms in the States, in a climate which allows dating, cohabitation, children out of wedlock, religious diversity, and a multitude of other Islamic sins which go unnoticed by Saudi relatives and religious leaders thousands of miles away.

    American citizen wives swear that the transformation in their Saudi husbands occurs during the transatlantic flight to the Kingdom. There is the universal recollection of approaching Riyadh and witnessing the donning of the black abayas and face veils by the fashionably dressed Saudi women. For many women, the Saudi airport is the first time they see their husband in Arab dress (i.e., the thobe and ghutra). For those American women reluctant to wear an abaya (the all-encompassing black cloak) and for those Saudi husbands who did not make an issue of the abaya prior to arriving, the intense public scrutiny which starts at the airport – given to a western woman who is accompanying a Saudi male is usually the catalyst for the eventual covering up. Since the overwhelming majority of American citizen wives never travel to the Kingdom prior to their marriage, they are abruptly catapulted into Saudi society. When they arrive, their husband’s traditional dress, speech, and responsibilities to his family re-emerge and the American citizen wife is left to cope with a new country, a new language, a new family, and a new husband. Whether a Saudi has spent one year or eight studying in the United States, each must return to the fold – grudgingly or with relief – to get along in Saudi society and within the family hierarchy that structures most social and business relations.

    Social pressures on even the most liberal Saudi are daunting. Shame is brought upon the entire family for the acts of an American citizen wife who does not dress modestly (e.g., cover) in public, who is not Muslim, who associates with men other than her extended relatives. Silent disapprobation from family and friends is matched by virulent public disapproval by the Kingdom’s religious proctors (Mutawwaiin) and vigilante enforcers of the faith. Several American wives, fearing the latest round of religious harassment, have started fully veiling; not to do so, they discovered, meant that public squabbles with the Mutawwaiin who vociferously oppose dual-national marriages. The experience of all dual-national couples is that voluntary and involuntary compromises are made or simply evolve. The sum of these compromises is quite often a life very different than the one imagined and speculated upon in the safety of the United States.


    Quality of Life

    Life in a desert Kingdom which prides itself on its conservative interpretation and application of the Quran (Koran) requires that couples talk about very basis lifestyle issues.

    How cosmopolitan is the Saudi husband’s family?

    All American wives encourage prospective brides to meet the Saudi family before arriving in the Kingdom as a married woman. (Most Saudi families will travel to the U.S. during the course of their sons’ studies, if only to attend graduation.) While it is no guarantee of acceptance, a family with regularly travels abroad or one in which the father has been stationed abroad is general more broad-minded when it comes to their son marrying a Westerner. It is the parents who can be the greatest source of pressure on a dual-national marriage and it is important to divine their opinions on what an American wife can and cannot do while living in the Kingdom.

    With whom will you live?

    Many newly married couples move in with the groom’s parents, in a sprawling villa which may house several other siblings and their wives and families. Privacy is elusive and tensions with family members who for one reason or another resent the presence of an American wife often makes this living arrangement difficult. In a more affluent family, a couple may inhabit one of several homes which compromise a small family compound. Some Saudis live separately in villas or apartments. While that resolves the issue of privacy, many American wives find themselves completely isolated fearing the day, surrounded by neighbors who only speak Arabic, with no access to public or private transportation.

    One tolerably married American citizen wife is not permitted to step out on the apartment porch since the risk is too great that an unrelated male would be able to see her.

    The most western, but least common, housing arrangement would be an apartment or villa located in a western compound or on the Diplomatic Quarter. There, a semblance of western suburban life goes on behind high walls or, in the case of the Diplomatic Quarter, under the protective gaze of a multitude of Saudi police officers. However, most Saudi owners of western style compounds ban Saudi tenants since they fear western inhabitants would object. The very rare Saudi male who endorses this living arrangement is generally a naturalized Saudi, of Lebanese or Palestinian origin. For the average Saudi family, residence in a western compound would be an unnatural renunciation of Saudi culture and would make one culturally “suspect.”

    With whom will you socialize?

    Saudis socialize within the family. Expatriates who have lived and worked for years in the Kingdom may never meet the wife of a close Saudi friend and, according to custom, should never so much as inquire about her health. For an American wife, a social life confined to her husband’s family can be stultifying, particularly since few American wives speak, or learn to speak, Arabic. Whether the Saudi husband permits his wife to socialize with men to whom they are not related determines how “normal” (i.e. how western) a social live they will enjoy. Several American wives have difficulty even visiting the American Embassy for routine passport renewals since their husbands are opposed to their speaking to a male Foreign Service Officer. Because of the segregated society, Saudi men naturally spend much of their time together, separate from wives and family. (Even Saudi weddings are segregated affairs, often held on different evenings and in different locations.) Only the most westernized Saudi will commit to socializing with other dual national couples.

    What freedom of movement will you enjoy?

    Women are prohibited from driving, riding a motorcycle, pedaling a bicycle, or traveling by taxi, train or plane without an escort. All American wives were aware that they would not be able to drive while in the kingdom, but few comprehended just how restricted their movements would be. Only the relatively affluent Saudi family will have a driver on staff, most American women depend entirely upon their husbands and male relatives for transportation. While most expatriate western women routinely use taxis, an American spouse will be expected to have an escort – either another female relative or children – before entering the taxi of an unrelated male.

    Will you be permitted to travel separately from your husband?

    Travel by train or plane inside the kingdom requires the permission of the male spouse and the presence of a male family escort. Travel outside the Kingdom is even more restricted. Everyone leaving the Kingdom must have an exit visa. For an American spouse, this visa must be obtained by her Saudi husband. The Saudi spouse must accompany his wife to the airport to assure airport officials that he has given his permission for his wife to travel alone or with the children.

    One American’s marriage contract specified that “she stated that she shall never request to travel from Saudi Arabia with any one of her children unless with his prior consent.”

    Most American wives believe that the U.S. Embassy can issue exit visas in a pinch. This is not the case. The U.S. Embassy cannot obtain exit visas for American citizens. Passports issued by the Embassy are worthless as travel documents without the mandatory Saudi exit visa. While some more affluent American relatives offer to pay for the American wife to travel independently, this often meets with disapproval from the Saudi husband or family.

    Will you be permitted to work?

    There are two hurdles an American wife must overcome before finding work outside the home: The disapproval of the family and the paucity of employment opportunities.

    Most husbands will not approve of a wife working outside the home if it entails contact with unrelated men. One American wife, who was a teacher in the U.S. during the entire five years of her courtship with her husband, was shocked when her husband threatened her with divorce when she requested to return to the U.S. to finish up one quarter of classes in order to qualify for a state pension. Now that she was married, the Saudi husband could not tolerate her being in the presence of other men. However, even if the husband is willing, the jobs are few. Employment is generally restricted to the fields of education (teaching women only) and medicine. Unfortunately, there is a tremendous social bias against the nursing profession and Saudi husbands would not approve of a wife working with patients, except in the position of a physician.

    Will your husband take a second wife?

    Among the younger generation, it is rare for a Saudi to have a second wife but it does occur. A man is legally entitled up to four wives, with the proviso that he is able to financially and emotionally accord them equal status. One American wife discovered that her Saudi husband had married her best friend, also and American, while he was on vacation in the U.S.


    In principle, all Saudi men must marry Muslims or converts to Islam. In practice, many American women blur the issue; participating in a Sharia wedding ceremony but never actually converting.

    The pressure to become a Muslim, or to be come a sincere Muslim, is enormous and never-ending. There is no separation of church and state in Saudi Arabia, and at the popular level there is simply no comprehension of religious freedom of the desire to remain Christian or undecided One American wife, who is approaching her tenth wedding anniversary has been terrorized by relatives who insist that the King has ordered that all women who don’t see the light after ten years must be divorced and deported. For another, the pressure comes mainly from her children who are mercilessly teased at school for having a foreign, non-Muslim mother. (Half-hearted converts to Islam find that their children are ridiculed for having mothers who pray awkwardly or not at all.) One Saudi teacher informed the children of an American citizen mother, who has sincerely concreted to Islam, that their mother could never be a Muslim since “only Arabs can be Muslim.” Women who don’t convert must accept that their children, through hours of Islamic education a day at school and under the tutelage of the family, will be Muslim. Women who do convert must understand that their conversion, particularly in the aftermath of a divorce, will be suspect and their fidelity to Islam perceived to be less than their husband’s.


    Saudi Arabia has one of the highest birthrates in the world and families with five or more children are the norm. The family is the basic unit of Saudi life and family members have must closer relations than in the United States. Every family member feels free to give an opinion on any facet of another family member’s life. Siblings – particularly an older brother – are expected to financially aid each other and males must band together to guard the honor of their female relations. Children are not expected or encouraged to leave the nest; rather, extended adolescence can occur well into a man’s early thirties.

    What are the differences in child raising?

    To a much greater degree than in the West, Saudi children are indulged. Little girls are dressed in miniature prom dresses, little boys wear the latest in western sport togs. Both wreak havoc. American wives must suffer silently when the children of various relations run riot through the house. One wife related the story of a brother-in-law’s child who carefully doled out chocolate pudding on the brand new furniture. When she scolded the child, she was in turn scolded for making a fuss about something that could be cleaned.

    On the other hand, the Saudi family is replete with baby sitters and children always have young and old playmates. with whom to mix. Because foreign labor is so cheap in Saudi Arabia, even lower middle class families will have an Indonesian or Filipina housemaid to help with the chores. Among the very affluent Saudi families and particularly within the royal family, each child will generate its own servant.

    Many American mothers are frustrated by the dearth of things to do with their children. Absent a driver, mothers are cooped up at home with the children and, even with a driver, there are few venues to visit.

    What will it be like to raise a daughter?

    Cultural differences are never greater than when it comes to the role of women and raising a daughter is a challenge in any Saudi-American marriage. Growing up in the Kingdom, a young girl will naturally look forward to the day when she comes of age and can wear the abaya and cover her hair. She will naturally be very devout. She may be expected to marry a first cousin. While playing a central role in the family, a girl is nevertheless a statutory second class citizen who needs to be protected and whose word is worth only half of a man’s.

    For a Saudi girl, this is the natural state of affairs; for an American mother of a Saudi girl, it can be unsettling. Not surprisingly, most of our child custody cases in which a child has been kidnapped from the United States involve a Saudi father “saving” his daughter from a sinful” society and her “decadent” mother.

    Since Saudi women are prohibited from marrying western men, an American mother must expect her daughter to integrate more tightly into Saudi society. This is not necessarily the case with sons who might be encouraged to study in the U.S. (Saudi girls are permitted to study in the U.S. only if they are chaperoned by a family member), who could freely travel to the West, whose business might facilitate travel between the two countries, and who might elect to marry an American woman. Several very liberal Saudi fathers and the American wives have been embarrassed by their more conservative daughters’ decisions not to attend school in the United States in deference to the disapproval of their culture.


    In the worst scenario, an American wife can find herself summarily divorced, deported, and deprived of any right of visitation with her dual national children. Sharia law decidedly favors men in the dissolution of marriage. And the laws of Saudi Arabia require that all individuals be sponsored by a Saudi citizen in order to receive a visa, resident or otherwise. Therefore, once a marriage breaks up, the ex-wife must leave the Kingdom and may only return with the explicit permission and sponsorship of her ex-husband. (In cases where the Saudi husband attempts to prevent his spouse from leaving, the Embassy can call upon Saudi authorities to facilitate the American wife’s departure. The Embassy cannot force a Saudi husband to relinquish the children.)

    In one instance, an American who had undergone a bitter divorce and child custody battle with her Saudi husband, applied for and receive a visa to work with a company located in the Kingdom. Once the Saudi husband and the Saudi authorities discovered her presence, she was thrown into jail and ultimately forced to leave her position and the country.

    What custody rights to women have under Sharia law?

    Theoretically, a mother should maintain custody the children until the ages of 7-9, when their primary care would be transferred to their father. However, the ultimate objective of a Sharia court in the settlement of custody issues is that the child be raised a good Muslim. Whether a convert or not to Islam, an American woman will not overcome the prejudice against her upbringing and society. The Embassy has no knowledge of an American or any western woman ever winning custody of dual national children in a Sharia court.

    Can an American mother flee the Kingdom with her dual national children?

    It is impossible to legally leave the Kingdom with out the express permission of the Saudi husband. A woman who wishes to leave her husband but is pregnant at the time, can be required to wait until after the birth of the child. The same would hold true if the Saudi husband passed away – custody of the children and any unborn child would remain with the closest living Saudi male relative.

    Can an American woman be denied visitation rights with her children?

    A Saudi husband must giver explicit permission for a divorced wife to visit her children in the Kingdom. The Embassy has worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to create the “no-objection” visa. The ex-husband must be willing to sign a statement that he has no objection to his ex-wife visiting the Kingdom. In that statement, the ex-husband establishes how long he is willing to let his ex-wife remain in the country. The history of no-objection visas is mixed.

    A husband often objects to the emotional disruption of a visit from the American wife. Often the husband’s second wife becomes jealous, and the American mother finds that her visits are restricted in time and carried out in full view of the extended Saudi family.

    Only one American wife has successfully made no-objection visits over the course of the last five years. She has been successful because she speaks Arabic (Dual national children quickly lose their English skills once their mother departs the Kingdom), has managed to maintain steady relations with her ex-husband, and reconciled herself to the fact that her child would spend at least his first 18 years in the Kingdom. If the custody dispute has involved kidnapping by one or both parents, then by the time the children reach the Kingdom the father has no interest in facilitating relations with the American citizen mother. In these cases, all communication can be closed off and Saudi authorities will not intercede in family disputes. Consular Officers are rarely permitted to pay “Welfare and Whereabouts” visits.


    Because the customs and laws of the Kingdom are so at variance with the expectations and emotional imperatives of an American citizen wife in the event of a divorce, an AMERICAN considering marriage to a Saudi must always contemplate the worst case scenario. American wives are bitterly disappointed and angry when they discover the limits of the Department’s and Embassy’s ability to intervene or resolve family disputes. The Department can provide no guidance on which marriages will succeed. But knowledge of Saudi Arabia and its particular interpretation of Islam should be an American woman’s first step in determining whether the compromises required are worth the proposed relationship.

    (end of statement)

  102. NN

    thank you for replying:) your husband sounds pretty ‘unusual’:) of course i agree that not every muslim is the same, but i have yet to meet one who shares views of your husband..
    and i must say NN, you are a lady with some ‘cojones’? i mean it in a very good sense, cause you won’t let anybody walk over you! need to learn that! thank you:)

  103. @Jay,
    That was a very good article. Covered everything well and too bad they took it off the website.

  104. @Ladies who still hope their husband is the exception:

    1) This may sound mercenary- but if you are at all close to your family in the US you will want to marry someone from an affluent enough family so that you can visit home. This becomes important if you what your children to know their family and when your parents start to age.

    2) Find out how the women of the family live. This is VERY important. In my husbands family, women were being educated and working etc. etc. and lived quite independent lives. Is it important to the family that the women have a driver? This is important for more than one reason.
    a) It is the biggest indicater of what will be expected of you.
    b) Family is your primary social connection. You are more likely to “get along” with women you have something in common with-with women not trying to force you to behave a certain way. I genuinely like nearly all of the women in my husbands family. Because of this my “social” time is so much better and my kids have a great time with their family as well. Over time I of course made my own friends as well.

    I think how the women of the family live is your number one indicater of how you will be able to live. Ask a LOT Of questions. Not about what your husband will let you do (ok, ask that too) but what the women in his family ALREADY do. It’s important.

  105. That article was great. I wish this resource was still available for people – Actual expectations and general living conditions… gives you something to really mull over.

    @Sandy: When I first started seeing my Saudi, his family was a big topic for us- I always have asked a lot of questions, and it cleared up (?) a lot of misconceptions I had.
    His family is mostly female (five sisters, one wed- all know English to a degree) and 2 brothers (one special needs). His father was educated in America, his mother cannot speak English and is a stay at home mom (given the circumstances of a special needs child, and 2 children under 10, I don’t beleive this was a “man-made” decision, but one that was made in the best interest of the family).

    His sisters are getting university educated – the oldest considering to move her, her husband and new born child to Canada to further their education.
    None of them cover their faces – only their hair when they go out.
    He laughed a little when I asked if they were aloud to go anywhere without a man with them- they spend a lot of time at the mall and at friends houses.

    They all text eachother almost daily, and he calls at least one of them a week.
    His sisters mean a lot to him.

    I love my family here in Canada, but grew up being encouraged to travel abroad, get an education, and separate myself a little from the clan. I still love them, but we’re not one’s to be super close. On saying that, I always wanted to change how I raised my own future family to be closer, as I never had a complete “home” feeling. I like the family unit that my Saudi has – though I think at times, it may get a little stifling.

  106. Well don’t worry because you are not going to be stifled and find out how nice and warm his home life is, because he will be experiencing that part of his life with his cousin/fiancee.

  107. I agree with Aafke-Art don’t worry about it, you’re never going to see Saudi Arabia.

    First, it’s a closed society which is why it’s difficult to bring in a foreign bride. No mystery there that’s WHY you won’t be going. They perfer to keep their land, culture, and people the way they are.

    Second, he’s under 35! The only marriage you will see with him is in your own country and even then he’ll pick up and leave when he’s done with school. The story may be totally different if you were both in your 30’s.

    It doesn’t matter what his sisters do or how they live just know there’s more of them to find him what they think is a suitable bride. This is not the man to settle down with and create a “home” feeling with no matter how much you want that to happen.

    I’ve been there, I’ve done it and nothing changes when they are this young. That’s my experience and I didn’t need a marriage contract with a Saudi to validate it. Afterall there are more of us on here with the sad story to tell than there is of the happy story to tell. That should tell you something.

  108. I’ve never been one to let go a dream, but I know when reality has officially kicked my ass.
    I know we have no future. I know I will not be going to his country. I know that our cultures are just too different.
    It doesn’t mean I want to give up on what we have right now. Right now, as a person, as a couple, without any outer influences, we are happy. We enjoy each other.
    Realistically, most relationships at this age don’t last that long anyways, as people are just starting to figure themselves out.
    That doesn’t mean I don’t secretly wish it could work, or that my Saudi could be the right one for me.
    To me, for now, he’s going to continue being the man I met and fell for, Saudi or not.

  109. Do I understand you correctly? You are purposly holding on to an affair with an engaged man?
    So just a bit of sex and fun for the two of you?
    If you had made that clear from the start, that you just want to have a fling with an engaged man who doesn’t have the honor and decency not to cheat on his bride we wouldn’t have had to have the whole of this discussion.
    I feel real sorry for his bride though…

  110. Oh, and he isn’t ”your” Saudi, he is his cousin’s Saudi, as she, poor girl, will be married to this immoral man very soon.

  111. Coming from a mixed marriage, I can say how hard it is. My father decided to marry my mother without telling his family yet they agreed to welcome her. Keep in mind that we are a really open minded family with lot of mixed weddings. My mum didn’t convert and doesn’t plan to, she was willing that her kids’d be muslim and she raised us as Muslims. She still does what her religion allows her too even if sometimes we (and I mean my siblings and I) totally disagree especially when it comes to eating pork…

    I come from a close-knit family and can’t live without talking to everyone every day. A lot of Middle Eastern families are like that. Family is a part of the daily life, if you do anything, you can be sure that everyone knows by the end of the day. You have a lot of pressure coming from this social group called family. Be aware of that. The pressure is unbearable when it comes to topics like weddings or religion.

    Be sure before getting involving further with your guy or any Middle Eastern guy of his point of view of religion (if he is willing to let you live your religion the way you want ; what does he expect from you towards your children ? e.g. you have to teach them Islam ? ) and his relationship with his family and how much his family is involved in the decisions he can make.

    Be aware too that in Egypt (and as far as I know in Middle East in general), it’s the tradition that EVERY MALE of a family gives his opinion about the future bride or broom that is coming into the family. You’ll never be a part of the family. Ever.

    Mother in the Middle East is the heart of everything. A bad relationship with her can be the end of anything. You have to deal with the mom and the family and not the other way around. The guy will never turn his back to his family. Or the girl for that matter.

    To answer one of the question about the necessity to have a government approval to get married. This decision has been made 1° to protect the Saudi women from being single (fear of the government that Saudis’d prefer to get married with some foreigners) 2° to protect the foreigners (a Saudi who has been through the Saudi administration to get the authorization loves you. Also, the government wanted to be sure that the Saudi who was getting married with a foreigner didn’t have an other spouse at home or at least that the new one knew about the other one).

    If this Saudi is getting engaged with someone else, please stop it. You’ll be seen as a whore and nothing else. And be sure that his cousin/fiancé will find about this. And will be NOT happy. At all.

  112. As I have said in above comments, my Saudi is not engaged- his parents accepted the proposal, but he has since declined. He will not be marrying in the next 2-5 years (if he is able to withstand family pressures). That is his choice – even without me in the picture, he is not ready to marry.

    I have gone further to say that I would not be with him if he was engaged and have told him that I would not stay with him if he accepted any proposals. I couldn’t do that to another woman.

    @Aafke-Art: Yes, we are choosing to remain together though our future is very grim. We’re holding on to hope, but not holding our breath for a miracle. It’s not just ‘sex and fun’ as you put it. This is a man I care for, and have shared my heart with. A lot of your comments, while rather cynical and demeaning, have a ring of truth, and I have taken in what everyone has said.

  113. I feel for you, I really do. In my experience with Saudis, the family does not accept an engagement for a man. A female, yes, but not a male. One certainty is that lying is the norm.

  114. @Talanathas – Is your Saudi the one who said that he declined the engagement although his parents had accepted? If so, that is contradictory. The parents do not accept for the male. It is family from the male’s side ( which generally include the prospective groom) who go to the female’s family and express the interest in marriage.

  115. bedu is right,,. if there is any word of excepting of a bride. it was by a ‘to be groom’… i know this, because someone i know just got engaged then called it off, and it was the GROOM doing all the decision making…

  116. As far as he explained it (or that I understood it) both the families had been talking about it and wanted it to happen. There was some sort of agreement that I don’t know the details about – thus me using the term ‘accepted’. He was never actually engaged, and I do not know if the woman wanted to marry either.

    He was told by his family he was to marry his cousin- I’m assuming they wanted him to agree so they could go forward with however they do things.
    Like I said, he said no.

    I wish I knew more about the processes and laws. I’ve been trying to find unbiased articles online, and I’m having a hard time deciphering what’s happening, what’s law, and what’s rumor.

  117. After all of this, you are still not sure “what’s law, and what’s rumor.”? Well, welcome to the Arab world.

    Actually, you know all you need to know. No matter how much you learn, you will not increase your influence in this matter. We Westerners tend to think we can “learn” our way through any obstacle. We can’t, when we are dealing with the Arab world. Consider this your first lesson in your own ineffectiveness regarding matters of the Saudi heart, and, by extension, the Saudi system.

    Lest you judge me cynical, I want to say that I loved my years in Riyadh, in spite of all the obvious frustrations.

  118. why did this guy tell you anything in the first place?
    seems to me he is telling you things to test your reaction. and to tell you about another girl shows just how much he is into you…and also, you have never met his sisters, so he will tell you anything he wants about them. and most, if not all saudi males, will Never talk about there sisters to anyone. even you. i guarantee you that they cover their faces.
    turn the light on girl, or is this more for attention…ho hum

  119. @Talanathas,

    There is not much mystery here:

    – On law: Saudi students are not allowed to marry outside the country. If it happens the wife will require entry visa, that will not be issued as the marriage is not recognized by the Saudi government. You can apply for a permission. That will take years, if it happens at all. When I say years, think 5 years, a decade, a life time, etc. The likely outcome is a Saudi student will not be able to bring his wife home, unless he has very strong connections at the highest levels of government. Something for you to ponder, why would a Saudi student even consider thinking of a lasting relationship, while knowing the high obstacle of getting through such process? Is it more likely that he is going into the relationship with a short term focus?

    – Saudi/Western marriage have a much higher chance of success if the couple live in the Western country. Ask yourself, why is it you that has to make the high sacrifice of moving to Saudi and dealing with a society that is likely to reject you and losing your freedoms as a woman? Wouldn’t it be easier for the man if he is serious to stay in the West, get a job, raise a family and travel to Saudi when needed? If this alternative is not something he would consider, do you really think he is as serious as you about the relationship?

    – Regarding families making engagement commitments, a family does not in anyway commit a man to a marriage or an engagement. They can put pressure on him, but he can reject it and end any discussion of such matters if he chooses to. The fact that he is discussing it with you means he agreed to something and is not telling you the entire truth.

    You should make your own decisions, but I urge you to consider the questions I raised to you above. Do not avoid them just in hopes things will workout, they typically don’t if you do not know what you are getting yourself into.

    Good luck…

  120. Talanathas,

    I suggest if you have not done so, search my blog (there’s a search box in the right side corner) and use the term marriage or relationships. Alternatively if you scroll down you will see pull down menu with categories of posts where you can find topics which will help answer some of your questions.

    Best Regards, Bedu

  121. It sounds like his family and her family may have agreed that he could wait until the end of his studies. However, they probably read a verse of the Qu’ran. It’s really common that the families read it to show they agreed of wedding proposal.
    The family of the groom visits the other family and they both read in the same time the same verse of Qu’ran. If he says he is not engaged, religiously and for his family, he is.
    Ask him more specifically about the procedure of wedding in Saudi Arabia and what his family did.
    Some of Saudi women are not fully covered and a lot of them tend to study in college. Nothing odd in that.
    You have to understand that a wedding in the Middle East is not about love but about two tribes or clans becoming allies for life so a wedding is always seen as a market deal if I can call it so. There is sometimes love, depends on your luck. Ask him what he is willing to do for his family and what a wedding involves for him (and if he only answers you love, the guy is doing self-delusion or self-persuasion, your choice). Welcome in the Middle East !?

  122. Actually any of the above possibilities seem possible to me. Families are different and do things differently. A more effective question than “what did he tell his family” is “what has your family understood from what you said?” That is what needs to be known.

  123. here’s one for you to think about. a lot of older saudi men would say this term, of course it is directed toward the husband about the wife who is a ‘not so great wife” anyway, here it is, YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR DOOR MAT! yep, heard it, anyone else hear that before. [not to me though..i hope, humm?]

    your confidence level is very low. maybe break away and do a bit of soul searching, and stop being a kept/free woman. sorry for sounding bad, but if you were my kid, i would knock some since into you.
    and here is an excercise to do for a whole month, and this is just a month to test yourself if you have patients/ what it takes to live in saudi, it is about as equivelant to living in saudi, for sure you will not have your own house.. maybe an apartment if your lucky, but if you live in an american compound, then that will be way better.

    Sit In Your Apartment and Don’t Leave, Talk To Any Family but Your Partner, and He Must Take/Drive You Anywhere You Need To Go…try it. thirty days that’s all.

  124. Nice exercise gia! Excellent suggestion! I really like it and I think 30 days would drive me up the wall!

    Of course there is plenty of time to try it out. How long until he is 35? 10 or 15 years? And then another 10 / 20 years to get the permission….
    Better get some eggs and sperm frozen now, while you are still in your prime…

  125. Better get some eggs and sperm frozen now, while you are still in your prime…

    too funny!…lol

    i used to want to bang my head on the wall, but now i have just enough money to travel without breaking the bank, most times…te he

    but when you have little kids, forget about living there. i wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy…or would i?

  126. Aafke,
    I thought women (and men, too) didn’t hit their prime until well into their 30’s at the earliest….?

  127. Strange One, but it will take some time to get the marriage permit, if you get it, and the guy can only start asking for it after he turned 35, so you cannot start having babies until, you have permission, are married, and that will put you at, say, 45/55, 65 if you are unlucky… by that time both eggs and sperm aren’t the best anymore.
    Maybe opt for adoption would be a better option.

  128. Hello Everyone.

    It was very interesting to read Talanathas story. I can relate to her and can add some thoughts.

    I am a non-Muslim Arab/Indian young lady who’s mingling with quite a few Saudi students here in Canada. However, my situation is a bit unique.

    I am a part-time high-class Escort. Most people, especially, women are quick to judge and assume that Escorts are horrible people. It’s basically paid companionship with wealthy gentleman. Apart from that I am also a student. I do look very Arab, so I attract a LOT of Saudi students.

    I have seen a fair quantity of Saudi students alone, and have cut it down to half a dozen that I see weekly as regular clients.

    My problem is that I fallen in love with two of them. Both of them, like most Saudi students I’ve encountered, say that they love me. None have mentioned marriage, but often they say they will bring me to Saudi Arabia with them.

    One thing I have noticed about the Saudi students is that a lot of them are VERY LONELY. They do have excess money from their salaries and they come spend part of it too spend a few hours with me. While they are looking for sex, most of them want to talk and cuddle.

    The interesting thing I’ve noticed is that most Saudi students love their own women: Saudi girls. Most of them have told me they’ve had relations with Western girls (or Western call-girls) and the experience wasn’t what they expected. They missed being with someone who spoke the same language and understood the culture. Most of my Saudi clients are with (or had) Western girlfriends, but said they prefer Saudi above all.

    So back to Tabanathas story: I truly think that he’s just had his fun while studying overseas, but for marriage he wants to be with a Saudi girl.

    I really liked one of the comments by NN, who said be BLUNT: make it clear what you want, or walk away.

    I’m at the point where I’m willing to leave to escort industry to be with my favorite Saudi client. He is very sweet, respectful, and generous. But I also know that this may be just a fling for him, and one day he may disappear.

    I do have a blog where I write about my encounters with them for anyone interested:

  129. Escortdiary,
    Interesting- but I am confused. Your blog title mentions selling sex. But you write that it’s “paid companionship”- which is what I always thought an escort was. My understanding is that an “escort” and a “prostitute” are not the same thing?

  130. escortdiary
    can you put more detail in your blog…if you know what i mean. te he [saudi wise]

  131. Hey Girls. Sorry I haven’t been able to update it for a while..but yes…I will talk more about them in particular. I see 2 or 3 of them per week, and it’s quite interesting because they are so young. The one I saw last night was a 6 hour booking, and he’s one of the many Saudi’s I’ve encountered with a “foot” fetish.

  132. I guess that answers my question. I doubt very much any Saudi student would ever marry a prostitute. Especially one that blogs about it. I even wonder if your clients talk about you with each other. Saudi communities abroad tend to be tight. I doubt very much you would ever have a future with any of them.

  133. Well, never say never. Without a doubt the Saudis don’t approve of an Escort’s job, but it doesn’t mean they can’t love one. So long the girl stops working in the industry is the deal breaker.

  134. Love and marriage are two different things. Love is never enough for a marriage. Saudi’s generally don’t marry their foreign girlfriends of many years- and when they do it usually doesn’t work out.

    Yes, being a prostitute is a deal-breaker. So is that you’ve slept with his fellow nationals and probably his friends, in addition to other men for money.

    The only circumstance that *might* work is if it was in your distant past. But I would suggest that meeting any real “husband” prospect on the job- of any nationallity is not very likely.

    As someone who knows lots and lots of married Saudi’s, of both genders, some to foreigners- I’m gonna say never. But you can think what you want.

  135. escortdiary
    all men want good sex, and if you got what he wants and satisfies him, he will never stop thinking about you. i agree with sandy, but you just might be the exception..hehe. i wiil keep reading to find out your secrets. fun.

  136. Saudis won’t marry you if they even suspect you’ve been with ONE other man, let alone several. It’s not just Saudi men— Egypt used to be the place to go if a girl needed a hymen restoration.

    My American friend made the mistake of admitting to her Saudi husband- well after they’d been married- that she had not been a virgin. I don’t know how that fact escaped his notice, but it did, and when he found out, he was emotionally traumatized.

    “NEVER tell him, ” was her advice, and she cited a hadith stating that the only information a woman was obligated to tell a suitor was whether or not she had ever been married. No details required, just a “yes” or a “no” to whether she had been married.

  137. I think most men don’t enjoy graphic stories of your prior sex life, but I do think most of them are able to get over the fact that you’ve been around. Jeez, I married at 36 so it’s not like I could have had an ounce of credibility pretending to be a virgin, so I didn’t even bother. I’ve been around and so has he, why pretend otherwise? My Saudi husband seems to be alright with me. I think it helped that since we married later in life, we both knew that virginity helps very little in matters of marital harmony.

  138. PS: I do think that marrying a sex worker, former or current, is pretty unlikely. It would take an extremely unusual man, and a very weird Saudi man, to do that. This is not a judgment, just an observation. I don’t see anything wrong with what you do.

  139. NN
    my curiosity is coming out… was your saudi a 36 yr old student?
    and that’s cool he didn’t go marrying a 18 yr old saudi virgin…just goes to say, ”saudi men marry who they want”.

  140. Gia…my husband was 44 when we married a year ago. First marriage for both of us. Not a student, he’s been here in the US for a while.

  141. NN

  142. Hi everybody,
    I love this blog because we can actually learn more about this culture, for some of us it is very strong, but somehow all those rules make our lovers the way they are. I just want to say that my saudi, the guy who is my soul has just gotten married yesterday to a saudi girl he was introduced few months ago. I’m totally devastated because I couldn’t do anything… anything. I just saw how he pleased her family’s choice and sadly accepted to get married. I suffered and cried with him every night he spoke about that marriage. Somebody told him “I know you dont love your wife, but someday you will do”. Everybody congratulates him, but why ? this is not joy for him.
    Now I’m in a very bad situation, I want his happines whatever it means for his family..but it means I have to give up in mine. Just to forget and to wait for the time to heal this inside my heart.
    I wish my saudi all the best in his life and tell him that I will never forget him.

  143. Aris…why do u wish him the best? He just broke ur heart to please his family and marry a stranger. Doesn’t sound like he wished u the best.

  144. Aris,
    Your Saudi had a choice to make- he could have chosen to be with you or he could choose to be with the person his family chose for him. He chose his family. If he gave up on the relationship that easily now, what are the chances he wouldn’t have given up later even if he had chosen to be with you now? It is probably better for both of you that he marries his family’s choice even though it causes you both pain now because it will be much harder for him to “give up” on a woman who the family approves of than one they don’t, especially if he is so easily swayed by their opinion. Furthermore, it is doubtful he would choose you over his family later if the situation ever did arise. Be thankful that you didn’t end up with a guy like your Saudi.

    I would say see it for what it is- you weren’t important enough to him for him to stand up for your relationship against his family. That makes him not worth the best, barely worth remembering. You are better off without him, so count your blessings. Learn from this experience, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on. I know it’s painful now, but you’re worth more than that. No woman deserves to get treated like that. Don’t wait around for him and do your best not to repeat this mistake again. Go find a guy worth the effort it takes to make a relationship work. Not only will there be less drama, but you know he’s “got your back” when times are tough.

    BTW, sometimes men cry to be manipulative. It may just be that he doesn’t want to come across looking like a loser to you and is trying to “save face” and let you know it “hurts” him, too. Crying doesn’t mean much. Look to his actions, what he did (which was marry another woman, one his family approved of), to see what kind of person he is.

    Sorry if this comes across a little harsh. >_< If I was ever in a situation like this, I’d tell myself something similar.

  145. @aris,

    you are wishing him well !!!! maybe i’m too OLD or from another planet but what the heck is there to wish him in al lthis.
    1. he scammed you, you don’t go around patting thieves and cheats onthe back do you? you punish them so they don’t repeat this mistake and you take great care not to be scammed again
    2. If he was forced ( whihc i highly doubt he was) , then he just ruined another girls life.. If my spouse married me claiming he did it for his mom and he loves someoneonw would cause me to raise hell!!!!

    so basically he’s a 2 timing scum — sorry i know the tears et all.. makes the heart go soft, but tell him he was a jerk and make sure you find someone whom you can trust and love next time…

    sorry for the rant but what’s wrong with the girls nowadays, why on earth do you let everyone walk all over you… and please don’t quote love.. that has nothing to do in these cases. LOve and marriage mean trust and respect and most of all putting the person you love’s welfare above all else.

  146. @Aris

    Oh crap, not the same thing all over again. Girlfriend!! Stop crying. Erase his number from your phone, or better yet, reprogram it to read “Dumbass” instead of his name. Then when he calls, you say to yourself, “hmm…I don’t talk to dumbasses…do I.”” Go shopping, have fun, enjoy yourself. Next time, when someone tells you they are getting married, and not to you, tell them to piss off and leave you alone. Stop caring about people who don’t care about you. Geez.

  147. PS: Please open your eyes. Guys who are your soul do not get married to other people. I know it hurts but you are better off seeing this for what it is. There is no other explanation other than he doesn’t care about you. Please stop making excuses for the slimeball.

  148. Wait a minute! The human being is more complicated, capable of many more kinds of emotions that what you all are claiming.

    None of you know for certain how that Saudi felt about Aris. All we know is what Aris has said. I certainly believe that he cared for her, could not help himself, either with Aris or the family. Sometimes men are wimps, regardless of nationality.

    No, actually, Arab men can be bigger wimps than Western men with respect to the family..

    The best lesson to be taken from this situation is that the pull of the family is stronger than the pull of romantic love.

  149. aris
    oh jeez, another doormat!
    how in the world do you know what is really going on 10,000 miles away in a different country and language [arabee]? you don’t know diddly girl. he can be saying anything to you to break-in the break-up if you get it. your not sitting in his families house having tea and discussing your soul [not] mates future life. no such thing as soulmate. i hear that crap all the time, then divoroce happens. i hope you weren’t covering [hijaby] yourself and acting all islamic and not married to this guy. you were obviously intimate with him. if you want a good man and life, find an american and introduce him to islam. so many american men are interested in islam. and they make better husbands. no proving yourself to be a good girl for the whore saudi man. i’m married to a saudi and i know i sound harsh, but do not be hard on yourself. i know how these guys are, because i ask. you were never the it girl to begin with, only the trophy to leave behind. grab your stuff and just leave and don’t explain anything… that will be your self respect. sorry again for being harsh. but i can’t help it.

  150. @marahm,

    You are right about the family rating higher, but at the same time, i don’t excuse these guys. This is the sme story with indian men, Family is stronger, and most of then know that their family back home will never accept a non-indian wife, yet they fall inlove ( why?) and can’t help themselves and thent hey dump the girl here to satisfy their family.. well a few stand against the family & marry the westerner and the family eventually comes around. I’ve seen plenty of both and i always ask these men.

    1. If you know this is not a possible solution why do you go after the women inthe first place . can’t stop yourself falling in love ???

    2. You knew fromthe onset that you had to pick her or your family ? yes hard choice, but when you fell inlove and started going out with her isn’t it assumed that you picked her? why did mom nd dad suddenly pop inthe picture just when it is time for a commitment?

    in my opinion, there are no repurcursions hence they play here and dump and run.

    I have nothing against men being wimps but show the wimpiness before ruinign someone’s life, i know someone who dumped a saudi since he was already married andlied and she is going thru HELL… if it was legal i’d love to give him a tight slap.

  151. It never ceases to amaze me, how western (most of the women here expressing their heartbreak seem to be western) independent women become so understanding, accepting, accomodating forgiving and to sum it up gullible towards these 2 timing hypocritical men from other cultures and countries. But in their own societies they would never put up with something like that with their own families and relationships. They are typically so demanding and assertive (and rightfully so)that when they go so mellow for out of culture relationships I am forced to believe it is the proverbial Saudi charm that can take anyone for a ride .
    Never heard an American woman be so apologetic for an American man. “oh I understand why he had to ditch me, wish him the best!” – ever heard that one for a fellow american?

  152. I can’t help but notice that those of you who judge most harshly are those who were in the same position as Aris and Talanathas, but for some reason, your Saudis, and Indian, bucked their families and married you. Well, congratulations.

    You, of all people, should be saying, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” You could have just as easily fallen in love with someone who’d dump you and marry the cousin.

    Love is not a matter of character; it’s a matter of the heart, and wise judgment rarely precedes falling in love. Thanks to blogs like this one, women who do their homework will now be able to nip the situation in the bud, rather than go on and on under the impression that the man will marry them and take them on a magic carpet ride to Saudi Arabia.

  153. I know of such relationships, and all the ones I know are not based on love (from the man’s side) it is a combination of lust and sweet talk/charm. yes when one goes a little longer into it, there may an element of liking and guilt, but love is far from truth.

  154. kvs
    that is so true.

    this never happened to me, and i never knew saudi culture untill i set foot on it. everything from the virgin to the married permission. never knew a thing.
    if i walk down a street and i know a wolf is in the bushes…i’ll let the wolf eat the next person.

  155. @Marahm

    Getting married to a Saudi is not a prize nor a life goal. There is nothing special about marrying a Saudi or any other nationality. Navigating your life with self-esteem intact is the prize.

    I suppose I see it differently in that love is a decision. But then I’m not 19 anymore, am I. Yes, loving someone is a feeling that I would grudgingly admit some people may find it hard to control, but – BUT – sitting there listening to some hypocritical idiot crying is a behavior, i.e a choice. Acting like a doormat is a behavior, i.e. a choice. The appropriate behavioral response to someone who tells you they decided to marry their cousin is “sayonara, loser” and a quick kick in the ass. What you feel at that moment to me, is irrelevant.

    And I don’t really see what the grace of God has to do with me making good decisions. It’s not like I have nothing to do with picking my husband, is it. He didn’t just fall in my lap. I screened the hell out of him, and for that matter out of all interested candidates. And you better believe me that if my then-boyfriend announced he is going to marry his cousin, my story would have been “I went out with this Saudi guy and then he decided to marry his own, so I dumped the moron ASAP and never spoke to him again” rather than “I met the soul of my life, but he didn’t want to marry me, so here I am bawling my eyes out and wishing him the best and I’ll never forget him and going to tattoo his name on my inner thigh with indelible ink waaaaah.”

  156. @Mahram
    No. I would never go there. Because love doesn’t trump self-respect for me. Just because you “fall in love” doesn’t mean you have to be in a relationship with someone. I would never enter a relationship is a drug addict either- no matter how much in love.

    Women need to put respect first. Other wise they should run right away.

  157. Thanks everybody for your comments. Actually, all this situation has to be more about with the strong role of family in this culture (or I suppose that). Also I’d like to know more about the fact that important decisions can depend on family’s approval. I know his family was the most important for him, always talking about them and the great moments they have together.
    He was engaged to a saudi girl before I met him, but he broke up and his family got really engry, everybody was talking about him. After that, her mother started to call everyday about the same topic, look for another girl for him. It took long time for him to go back to KSA, and 2 months ago when he went for vacations,everything was arranged for the new engagement eventhough he barely knew his new fiancee. He told his mother about he had another girl, a non-saudi girl and the answer was “ok, you know you can’t , so don’t waist your time” she didn’t approve this relationship, it let me think they wouln’t accept a foreigner in his family. Somebody could say he had a choice , so just to wait for other engagement with some other saudi-girl? because the one would never be me if we wanted to do everything right. I wish him the best because it’s the way I can forget everything we had and the future we planned together, also because he is who is already married to a complete strange and will spend every single day with somebody he doesn’t like.
    Thanks god I have a family who will accept my decisions even if they think I’m completely crazy, also for friends who always give support in bad moments.. And why not, for you who can be very sympathetic in a hard situation.

  158. @Aris you are lucky to be out of this. That poor woman is stuck with a lousy husband. She’s really the one in trouble.

  159. @Marahm,
    I realize the Saudi guys go through a lot and have a lot to learn when it comes to being in a relationship with someone from another culture. I know the human being is complicated, but at the same time that’s no excuse for not standing up for what is important to you. If it mattered enough to someone, he/she would do what it takes to make it work. Who’s to say I didn’t fall in love with the one who will eventually marry his cousin? And if he does, then I am better off without him.

    I know men can be manipulative with crying because I’ve seen it happen. My brother used to do it as a child.

  160. Well, self-respect is a fine thing, but I still say you are all being too hard on Aris, who needs to grieve the loss of something she valued. Her perception of the relationship turned out to be different from his; all the more reason for grief. That doesn’t mean she lacks self-respect.

    Some Muslim men caught in triangles will simply marry both women. That’s definitely an option here, and who is to say that the man will not grow to love both wives equally?

    You want to talk about self-respect? Plural marriage is a situation that would seriously call into question the self-respect of any woman.

  161. They don’t have to learn anything, it’s clear they all go to the same class before they come to America:

    ”Integration into American society and how to get laid with American women and how to get rid of them when you’ve had enough and even make them feel sorry for you instead of beating you up like they would do to an American man who lies and treats them like trash”

    It must be something like that, nothing else explains fully the never ending stream of women being taken for a ride by Saudi students and still feeling ”sorry” for them… because ”they can’t help it”.

    Those poor guys, coming from a society and culture where as men they cannot do anything wrong, going to ”the decadent West” where they finally can get laid all over the place, they only need to play act a bit. Everything is the fault of the women anyway.
    At home they are the beloved golden boys, they get everything they want, are allowed to do what they want, (unlike the girls) and then suddenly they have to ”marry against their will” with a ”pure” Saudi girl…
    And there’s nothing they can do about it…
    How sad…
    You cannot help but feel sorry for them.

  162. @Marahm,
    I understand where you are coming from. Maybe I was a little harsh, but to be honest that’s how I deal with these kinds of situations.

    I understand that there are the long-term repercussions to deal with, and for many men it would be better to marry someone from their own culture rather than someone who may be viewed as an outsider, especially if he wants to live near his family in Saudi Arabia. This could be said for many other people living in other countries, too.

    It takes a very strong individual to go against the wishes of his/her loved ones, and even if s/he is a strong individual, the long-term effects must be weighed against the short-term effects. I definitely wouldn’t hate the guy for choosing someone else, and there is nothing wrong with grieving the loss of a relationship. However, I would still hold the guy responsible for his actions and it is doubtful I’d stay close friends with him. I’d feel betrayed by him, and for good reason.

    That isn’t entirely true. The men are still expected to protect and care for their families, provide financially for the family, etc. Although some of the men take advantage of being in the West, not all do.

    I think for a lot of them it is not the matter of a “pure” Saudi girl (although for some of them it’s important), but a matter of having an easier relationship where gender roles are more clearly defined and in a way they are used to, there is family support, and they don’t have to adapt to a whole other culture. Also, it is easier for them to be near their family because they don’t have to worry about government approval. Living far from family can be very tough, especially for people who are used to socializing mainly within their family unit.

    However, I still do not feel sorry for the man in this situation.

  163. Strange one: ”sarcasm”
    Learn to spot it.

  164. Aafke,
    Sorry if I took your statement out of context. Just because it’s obviously sarcasm doesn’t mean that your point is as obvious.

  165. @Aafke:

    ”Integration into American society and how to get laid with American women and how to get rid of them when you’ve had enough and even make them feel sorry for you instead of beating you up like they would do to an American man who lies and treats them like trash”

    What a great theme for Tash ma Tash to take on!


    When emotions are not as volatile, look back and cherish the good memories while moving on to a brighter future with added insights.

  166. Bedu! Woehahahahahaaaa! I can see the episode!

  167. i was in the same situation as yours. we’ve been through worst and thank God we’re still together. Since his family knew that he’s with me, he didn’t stop fighting for our love up to now. We are still hoping for the best and to have a family of our own in the future. I’ll include you in my prayers.

  168. AB & Aafke,
    I love the idea of the Tash Ma Tash episode!

    All (especially Aafke & Marahm),
    I apologize for some of my comments being emotionally all over the place recently. Some of the situations with these girls struck a cord with me, though that’s no excuse. Sorry!

  169. This subject “strikes a cord” with many of us, myself included! Your apology is accepted, Strange One.

    An important benefit of blogging is that we can work out our experiences and attitudes towards situations we’ve struggled with, taken sides with, still struggled with, perhaps even changed sides, and maybe still struggled, etc, etc. When we learn of a woman at the beginning of a similar struggle, we have much advice to give, and it tumbles out all of a sudden in its immediacy.

    I look forward to more such discussions.

  170. Marahm,
    Thanks for understanding! *Hugs*:)

  171. When I was young I dated a Yemeni for 5 years. We were best friends but were mature enough to know that it would not have worked out for the long term. He felt obligated to his family in Yemen that put him through university and he KNEW that I would NEVER fit in in Yemen. (surprise?) Of course it was painful for both of us when he finally had to leave but I am soooooo very thankful that we realised it wouldn’t work. My friend at the time DID end up marrying his relative and even went back home with him. She is THE most easy going and adaptive person I know and she only lasted a few years (no kids) there before she divorced him and came back home never wanting to leave this country again.

  172. @ talanathas and aris

    i know exactly how you feel as i have been in exactly the same situation before. consider and think hard about the advise offered to you. as for me i think i have made the right decision of giving my ex up since he told me of his impending engagement. i actually feel sad for him but he chose to live like that so goodbye aye? it is hard, extremely hard but someday one day you’ll find the right one for you, someone who will fight for you whether he’s of different race and culture it wont matter because he is the right one. don’t rush, just let it be…

  173. Thanks Ixara.. these days have been really though, trying to keep busy in many other things than thinking about him. Every day is better than the last one. And you are completely right, the one will do everything to be with us.. just like that.
    On the other hand..I’ve been talking with a girlfriend, she is japanese and fell in love with a saudi..I find sad that most of our mistakes about falling in love with them is that we don’t know a lot about their culture, we just got blind before knowing that we have more chances to get a broken heart than a happy ending. So, girls.. who are reading this for the first time and who are trying to establish a relationship with a saudi.. be objective and mature.. use more your brain instead of your heart.

  174. ”their culture” means this: When abroad get as much booty as you can, tell any lies necessary, and then dump them to go home and marry a girl who of course has to be a virgin…

  175. get a grip on yourselves!
    Why the hell should you all feel sorry for those lying pigs?
    you should feel sorry for yourselves, and then get a make over, new hairdo, new make up, do some therapeutic shopping and get on with your lives and let those louses rot!

    And make sure you tell any other girl you meet what to expect from Saudi men!

  176. Not ALL Saudi men outside of the Kingdom are bad. For example, I know the young Saudi men in my extended family who are outside of the Kingdom and very proud of the example they set.

  177. @ Aafke-Art
    that’s exactly what a girl must do after a break-up or a bad relationship whether from a saudi guy or not haha it really helps..i don’t know if feeling sad and sorry are the same thing..anyway all i can say is that there are guys saudis or not who are wimps..there are men in my country who are worse than saudis sad to say hh but the good thing is as what my mom always say..there are lots of fish in the ocean lol and cheers to that girlfriends!

    @ aris
    you are right about what you’ve said, not knowing enough but honestly somehow at the back of our minds we knew what we’re getting ourselves into in the first place..hardest thing though is letting go but we’ll come to that this point the best thing to do is keep busy, meet people, and do what Aafke-art says hh
    about your girlfriend…if she’s still with him, i hope she’s ready for whatever trials the relationship will or might bring. too bad we can’t choose whom to fall in love with, i myself never thought I’d fall for a saudi guy but I didn’t regret it not one bit. Lesson learned.

  178. @Aris – I hope your heart heals fast for you. It is a terrible feeling to have a situation taken completely out of your hands, and watch while knowing nothing you can do can change it. I don’t know the details of you and your past relationship, and if you expected this or not… but I do know that no matter how much people tell you to get over it, or berate the person, or try to make it better, you will take the time and take in the information you need to heal.
    Don’t let bitter people make you second guess yourself or worth. I’m assuming that while you may not want to think about it all now, one day, you’ll be okay.

    I don’t know what chip you have on your shoulder regarding this subject, but your words are spiteful, inconsiderate, and lack any sense of emotional intelligence. We’re not looking to be babied. We’re not looking for your degrading opinions. People put things like this out there because there aren’t too many in their immediate communities to reach out to- because we want to hear from other people in these situations. I want the truth, but not from serial sarcasm commenter on a high-horse that feels the need to shove whatever ‘truth’ you beleive down our throats (in such a way that is so blatantly pleasing to yourself).

    Nothing is wrong with strong opinions. But for someone preaching self-worth, you sure have a way of completely disrespecting people.

    It feels like an eternity has passed since I wrote this letter. And just to let everyone know, I am still with my Saudi, and yes, we’re still happy. We’ve both gone through extremely difficult personal situations (in the matter of 2 months) but we are starting to resume life as usual.
    I have been made known to my Saudis brother, which has gone over rather well.
    Just thought I’d let people know where I’m at right now with this.

    I really hope other people start coming forward with these mixed race/faith relationship stories and questions.

  179. Doesn’t it feel good to finally not be alone?:-) I’m happy that you’re happy and things seem to be going well!

  180. just a it true that a saudi family will be treated as outcasts if let’s say a son marries a foreigner? glad and happy for you…good luck

  181. @lxara – whether or not a Saudi family will be treated as outcasts if a son marries a foreigner really depends on so many circumstances and situations. In more cases if anyone is treated as an “outcast” or rather outsider, it will be the foreigner who “led the Saudi man astray.”

  182. Ah. The torture of Saudi. I find it interesting the various nuances of Saudis’ form of torture upon their own. One would ask; if a bird in a cage knows nothing else is it tortured? I tend to think it is it the bird in the cage that was let out to explore, experience and learn only to be put back into the cage that is the worst form of torture. Women who are highly educated in business, finance, engineering, computers, but never allowed to leave the house to use that education. Men who find love only to have it taken away by oppressive means. The psychological abuse inflicted on the young people I would image is staggering only to be confronted with a society that cares only for conformity.

  183. […] 2011:  A Saudi Student Love Story and Heartache in Progress was most popular with 182 […]

  184. “I tend to think it is it the bird in the cage that was let out to explore, experience and learn only to be put back into the cage that is the worst form of torture. Women who are highly educated in business, finance, engineering, computers, but never allowed to leave the house to use that education.”

    Reminds me of Raise the Red Lantern by Zhang Yimou

  185. What! Outcasts!! My family is considered as a conservative one, in fact we consider as beduin, real ones! However, two uncles of mine married to two lovely ladies who are smart, respectful, and well educated 20 years ago! one from Irland, and the other from The US! They both happy, their parents were not happy at the beginning but they got over it and apologized at the end.
    If a Saudi man or woman loves a foreigner, there is no religious reason not to get married with as long as they believe in God, specifically Christens or Jews.
    I myself going to get married with the girl I love wherever she’s from! Let’s see, I just moved to the US who knows I might ended up a Beduin marrying one of the uncle sam’s gals. My fam miht not be so happy at the beginning, but they surely ll understand by time.
    Thanks for this site, interesting indeed ..

  186. My story is different but ever so similar. My Saudi boyfriend told his family about me from the get go. And they thought it was all good, cute fun as long as he is in America. He was very open with me. We had a very loving relationship…always saying I love you and sharing affection. But we both told each other in the very beginning we could never be together. He made it clear to me that his family would never accept me and that one day he will marry a Saudi woman. And I knew this. I know in this life we can never be together. But we had such a deep love. Everyone saw it. We were that couple dancing, that couple laughing, and everyone wanted to be us. I decided to leave the country and study abroad…as an excuse for me to end it before he had to leave and be the one to leave me. And I can’t imagine one day he will be married. Married to a cousin, to a woman he doesn’t know..a woman that he may never love..all because of cultural and societal rules. And now months later, I find myself trying to meet new people..constantly haunted by the biggest love of my life. It kills us both. Everyday. All this pain. And for what?

  187. I am going through the same thing. I gave up religion friends and family to win his love and be perfected for him. In the end he picks his family. Im crushed bc now I will be isolated. I gave up everything to prove I will fight for our love. My love just proved greater. Allhumdilah it hurts so good. Pain never tasted so sweet. I do not know my destiny but inshallah I will be okay. I wish for strength the day he leaves back to his country never to be seen as if to merely be dead in this life in order to enjoy the ignorance of the virgin in the next. What a reward for such a selfish selfless act. What will become of me? What is my destiny? I do not have such a planned gift bestowed upon my life. How sweet the also bitter taste of defeat. How I scorn this freedom. How I yern for the uncontrolable control. How many times I have toyed with the jealousy of knowing the simple touch from her unto him. Th privilege of is scent upon her. His sweet voice when he sings echoing in his ear. What a privilege. How good the pain.

  188. I am currently in a relationship with this Saudi man. And yes….we have a very strong connection that I couldn’t explain. Some of my friends were telling me to avoid him as he will just leave me for a Saudi girl to marry as per his family’s arrangements. What will I do? Should I give up? Or should I believe in what we felt?

    And what happened to you and your Saudi?

  189. There are a lot of horror stories out there. I personally am happily married to a Saudi and get frustrated when people make negative blanket statements about Saudi men, and apply them to my husband having never met him.

    From my observations, jerks are evenly distributed around the world. People changing on you and breaking your heart is also universal. What you MUST educate yourself on are the laws (both official and cultural/social norms) which allow Saudi men to get away with it more, or cause more pain.

    Whether you proceed or not is up to you. Consider normal factors of healthy relationships too. But, proceed with an understanding of the situation you’re getting yourself into – multiple wives allowed, role of the family, mahram system, child custody issues and international kidnapping… These things don’t happen to everyone, it IS possible to have a long happy marriage to a Saudi, but one must be aware of the risks involved. The Saudi legal system does not favor foreign wives, and will not be on your side if conflicts arise (as they can in any marriage, international or not), although the situation has improved somewhat in recent years.

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