Saudi Arabia: Male Students on an International Scholarship


I have written multiple posts in the past about Saudi students who are studying abroad on a scholarship.  I feel compelled to address this topic again due to the number of foreign (non-Saudi) women who enter in to a relationship with a Saudi student.

In Saudi Arabia unrelated men and women are segregated and prohibited by law to intermingle.  Most Saudi men in the Kingdom have minimal to no contact with women to whom they are not related.  Their time with women is with family such as Grandmother, Aunts, mother and sister.  If a Saudi man were to have any interaction with female cousins or sister-in-laws these women must be covered in front of him.

Some Saudi families may be more open and not adhere to the tradition of segregation.  However compared to the overall population in Saudi Arabia, these families are in the minority.

The Saudi student who receives a scholarship to study abroad will be advised and given information about requirements he is to follow.  Circumventing these requirements could result in revocation of his scholarship.  He will know before he leaves the Kingdom that marriage to a foreigner (non-Saudi) is prohibited.

However, when the Saudi student arrives in a Western country he may be exposed to the lack of segregation for the first time.  His reaction may be the same as setting a child loose in a candy store.  He will be able to talk freely with women.  He will be surrounded by women who do not cover their body or head in the manner of the Saudi woman.  He will be able to make friends with women.  He will be able to date!  And, if he chooses, he can have a relationship with a foreign woman.

  Perhaps due to his upbringing where contact with an unrelated woman generally means marriage, he may tell the woman with whom he is having a relationship that he wishes to marry her.  Yet with the restrictions he must abide to, he knows in his mind that a marriage is unlikely to happen.  He is not only going against the regulations of his scholarship but he must also obtain approval from the Saudi government in order to marry a non-Saudi woman.  This is further compounded by another regulation that any Saudi under the age of 35 is prohibited from marrying a foreigner.

Do marriages take place between a Saudi scholarship student and a foreigner given all the restrictions and regulations?  Yes.  Some Saudi students feel an obligation to marry a woman with whom they are having an intimate relationship.  Others marry as they believe they have found love.  The marriage may be a civil marriage and/or a very private Islamic marriage.  Now couples are legally married but that does not mean a couple can travel to the Kingdom together as husband and wife.  Government approval is still required.  The majority of times the Saudi student returns to the Kingdom upon completion of his studies leaving his foreign wife behind.

In spite of taking the risk of marriage, the Saudi student is unlikely to acknowledge the marriage or request for approval of the marriage from the Saudi government.  He does not want to jeopardize his scholarship.  It may also be questionable on whether his family is aware that he married a foreigner.  Many Saudi families will not accept or approval of their son marrying a foreigner.  His mother may have already selected a woman she wishes for him to marry.

The foreign woman should educate herself on the Saudi culture and customs before entering in to a marriage with a Saudi.  Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative countries in the world.  A foreign woman married to a Saudi will find herself in a world where segregation is natural and modesty expected.  She may or may not be accepted by her husband’s family.  Without any of her own family members or friends around her she may feel very isolated. Her husband may be pressured or obligated to have a Saudi wife.  The Saudi man, as a Muslim, can have up to four wives.  If the couple have marriage difficulties and divorce, the husband will have custody of any children.  The wife, as a foreigner, may be obligated to leave the Kingdom because she no longer has a sponsor (her husband).

There have been happy and successful marriages between Saudi men and foreign women but the marriage approval may have taken years.  A lot of patience, faith and perseverance are required.

78 Responses

  1. Most saudi men only come to our country to have sex, that’s all. Unfortunately their families do not care about what they do in here as long as they come back to the KSA and marry a virgin. But when they are here…OMG they go crazy! sleeping around like men whores! and the sad part of it is that many of them that come to study here, are already married back home, and they still have sex with women here and LIE to them and tell them they are single. Of course, back home they do not know anything about their sexual encounters in our country. AMERICAN WOMEN: BEWARE OF SAUDI MEN!!

  2. Well, carol, nobody can say that you haven’t done your best to educate (or even warn) both Saudis and non-Saudis, Muslims and non-Muslims about both the joys (your case) and the possible sorrows (many others) of this kind of relationship.

    It is my experience that in marriage there are no set rules to judge success and happiness. That sexual attraction or infatuation is often mistaken for love, that is a given, that men and women exploit each others, that happens too. Yet, the heart usually accepts no advice except that which confirms its own desires and impressions.

    Even so, as the poet said, better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all – except, of course, there are children. Then it can get messy.

  3. “Now couples are legally married but that does not mean a couple can travel to the Kingdom together as husband and wife. Government approval is still required. The majority of times the Saudi student returns to the Kingdom upon completion of his studies leaving his foreign wife behind”

    Unbelievable in the 21st century that such govn’t prohibition on marriage exists. But I realize it is societal and custom that also are footbinding tape..if I may use an anarchronistic Asian, powerfully limiting thing.

    I suppose international scholarships are rarely granted to Saudi women?

    Did it happen to you at all?

  4. @AB

    You’re doing great work here. Hopefully that will increase awareness, and the people that happen to be in relationships with Saudi international students, know full and well what they might be getting into.


    “I suppose international scholarships are rarely granted to Saudi women?”

    The opportunity is certainly there, and a good number of Saudi females are granted scholarships. But as is the case with all things Saudi,they come with stipulations. Male Saudies have the luxury to study abroad without a guardian, while female Saudies must be accompanied a male guardian. Here’s a source to the numbers of Saudi females that have participated in the scholarship program.

    “King Abdullah’s university scholarship program starting in the 2007-2008 academic year gave virtually every qualified Saudi female student the opportunity to study abroad. In 2010, Saudi women undergraduate and postgraduate students accounted for 25 percent of the 15,600 Saudis studying in the United Kingdom. Approximately 6,000 women are studying at universities in the United States. Worldwide, 20.5 percent of all Saudi students on full government scholarships are women. An estimated 56.6 percent of all Saudi university students in the kingdom are women. Nearly 60 percent of Saudi businesswomen have university degrees with one-third of those degrees earned at Western universities.”


  5. There was an article in either today’s Arab News or Saudi Gazette (do not remember which) that had the current statistics and rise of Saudi women in the US on scholarships. Way to go Saudi women!

  6. You need government permission to bring your spouse to live in the USA and if you go to some of the online forums…you will see that bringing a spouse from a MENA country can be very difficult. For some people it takes years.

  7. @ANNE…ure comment makes u sound ignorant..sure what u said does go on but hey its your fellow american girls that are falling for the guys as takes 2 to tango. We can all make up things about any nationality..including yours…the difference is un-educated ppl put a whole nationality into one stereotype and stop at that.

  8. @Bella-Vita

    She could be possibly jaded, or heard of an equally crappy experience from a friend or relative. It should not bother you, because it did not bother me. Guys can be lying manipulative assholes, and the same can be said about girls. If this is going to give her a platform to vent, let her have at it.

  9. @ JC..i get what ure trying to say and I’m sure we have all had bad experiences with different ppl of different ethnicities and she is free to vent all she wants..but she made it clear that she thinks the entire saudi make population is the same..and thats what i had the problem with ….dnt matter if they are saudi or chinese..dnt like it and thats my opinion and I’m sure lots can disagree.

  10. If a saudi girl marries out side saudi will the guy get the citizenship?

  11. Nobody needs to be blamed but the society. How could it still happens at the end of 2011? Love or a marriage should not be linked to such limitation or policies. It’s just simply between the two and their families. What is government doing in it?

  12. @Bella – I haven’t been out in the dating world for quite a while now so I can’t say what it might be like now BUT, back in the day the Arab men were pretty much the same as described by Anne, so much so that before he went back home my own very good Arab friend made me promise him that I would not date any Arabs. I think he had a pretty good idea of what they were all about 😉

  13. @Lynn..maybe “back in the day” people were not as open to dating out of their ethnic circle and accepting anything out of the ordinary for them…and maybe people like the arabs were stereotyped and judged a lot even if some of the things said were not true. In australia..when the italian migrants first came..they had the hardest time and ppl stereotyped italian men as controlling/violent aussie girls swoon over italian guys…the same with yugoslavians and chinese back in the day they had a real hard more recently its the africans/arabs (iraq area).
    i guess all nationalities go through that stage where the country they are being received in are going to give them a hard time..because change is not easy for all.. I think arab men have a bad rep lets be honest..but does that mean they are all bad..NO …that was my point.

  14. One has to take into account the culture they come from, a culture which despises women, where women are by law property of men, and a religion which states clearly that women are deficient subhuman beings, worth less than men. A culture which for generation after generation has taught the men that women are property, that kuffaar are less again, that the western women are all whores.
    The society is hypocritical: it doesn’t matter what you do as long as nobody knows about it. At the same time punishment for minor digressions to the extraordinary harsh social rules are draconian. Such a set up breeds a culture of lying. People have to lie to jeep themselves safe, it becomes habitual.
    And lets not forget that there is a fatwa by the most influential Saudi scholar that it is a good idea if saudi men marry women when studying abroad and abandon them when they return home.
    That bears thinking about. Such an upbringing does set middle eastern men apart from western men.
    Of course there are exceptions, men who can rise above such cultural and religious influence, but they will be rare, and I suspect such a man would be honest enough to keep away from a doomed relation with a western woman.

    It cannot be coincidence that women blogging about Saudi Arabia are inundated with despairing mails from women who are in relationships with Saudi men.

    There are three possibilities:
    – a really honest and fair minded Saudi would not start a hopeless relation with a western woman.
    – some Saudi students will be overwhelmed and fall in love but are careful enough to tell their girlfriend about the marriage restrictions, the slavery status of women in KSA (They often don’t even understand how life is for their mothers and sisters) and the fact that they may or may not be married already and the fact that most Saudi families would never approve
    – some Saudi students just use the kuffaar western whores to have lots of sex and lie their ass off to get it.

    And all this is about men.
    What about the female students? A female student will never get permission to marry a foreigner. Because women are property, and to take property from others is one thing, but to give property away even to men of other middle eastern countries is quite another thing. A saudi women without major royal wasta (influence) will never get permission to marry outside of Saudi.Her children will not get Saudi citizenship, and as a woman she cannot sponsor her husband to enter Saudi Arabia.

  15. There is an exempt category of women who might get permission to marry a non-Saudi: women with disabilities, older than 40, and there was something else I have forgotten, But basically the women no Saudi men would have, even as a misyaar ”wife”, may get permission to marry outside of KSA.

  16. conservative country is an understatement I do think that you make a good point in that anyone should look into the culture before making a move such as marriage. Young women and young men in any country tend to think with the heart or in some instances other parts ot the anatomy. Too bad that there is such of fear in KSA of interaction because I think with the internet it may change sooner rather than later, and it will be very difficult for all involved.

  17. Many Saudi men coming to the US as students are DIFFERENT than from many other countries. There are 2 kids then ones used to coming here often and the ones fresh off saudi .. Like any new immigrant they have issues adjusting. the diff being these young men has a sense of entitelement.. like they are god’s gift to mankind nad need everythng handed on a platter 🙂

    very sweet and charming. not at all naieve. know exactly who to play and how to play 🙂 Some genuinly fall in love, some are there to have fun and they don’t think lying for short term gain ( as in affair) etc., is bad .

    Basically it’s a communication issue. the girls her who fall for them are not sluts or anythng, just normal students who are not up and up on world culture. they take their charm and lies to heart and have no idea how saudi works.

    Sometimes i step in and explain to the saudi fella as to how i’m married to a saudi and have lived in saudi and ask the girl to a cup of tea… and lo behold they flee 🙂 just like that

    I have also known saudi students who are in love who have gone back repaid monies, come back ,married nad stayed here since they cannot take their wives back. but these are far and few in between.

    I’ve now become adapt at asking a few questions and figuring out if they have a wife/fiancee back home..:-) actually mu daughter is much better than me at this. its a sport to her.

  18. @bellavita- thsi situation is not the other immigrants face. Tiny white lies about spouse/fiance at home come easily to some men. for some strange reason the % of saudi’s who do this is way higher than the other cultures???

    Also other cultures may not liek to have an american woman marry into their family but very few of them try to actively break the marriage up.

    Finally i don’t know of any otehr country in the world ( i may be wrong) where the govt has to give permission to marry someone you love . More so that a student cannot marry..this is soo bizarre off the wall that i don’t expect the entire female college population of US being aware of that.

    A few of them thought i was joking when i mentioned their loving boyfriends/fiances have to jum thru hoops to get the marriage accepted 🙂
    so inthis case NO i don’t blame the girls, I entirely totally Blame the saudi boys who lie and manipulate… especially when some of thweir fellow students from saudi seem to be able to tell the thruth and be such good students????

  19. @Bella – ‘does that mean they are all bad..NO …that was my point.’

    Perhaps not BUT if they are Muslim and still trying to get in your pants then that’s the first clue that they just might be bad 😉

    I don’t think that anyone knows Arab men better than another Arab man and HE seemed to think that they were ALL bad enough to stay away from so I think that, combined with all the incidents of women being hurt by them IS enough to spread the message that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  20. Radha actually mu daughter is much better than me at this. its a sport to her.
    LOL! I would love to sit in on one of her interrogations!

  21. no interogations aafke – they are much too smart for that. the 2 she figured out was when they met her when she came to visit ius at work. She asked them something about the cafeteria i think and inthe process of showing her to it they decide to chat and one asked her out .. she was 16yr old then sigh!!!! till she said she was not allowed to date till she finished high school and they said it was not a date just coffee 🙂 so she said ok , she’d let her dad and mom know where she was first and proceded to call F who didn’t take kindly to her having coffee drinking sessions with older men who after hearing his name freaked out.
    now everyone knows who she is they leave a wide berth around her, poor thing doesn’t even get asked to coffee. 🙁

  22. Aafke-Art, could you please explain how you or your daughter question the Saudi men? How do you get them to admit that they are married?


  23. @Radha,

    If possible, could you ask F for a list of questions or advice on how to ask questions to obtain honest answers?

  24. When seriously dating anyone from abroad, it is important to learn about the visa requirements for spouse/fiancee/partner/etc. That was one of the first things I did with my Saudi ex- which is how I found this website. Some Saudi men were very respectful of me. Others, however, my ex-bf had to make it clear that we were “in love”. That said, I think one of the best decisions I ever made was to break up with him and never speak to him again.

    Of course, I’m now practically married to another Arab man, but this one is for keeps. 😉 With my current one, I knew it we had a good thing when both our families are known as the “crazy” ones. hehehehehe

    And for the record, I can’t stand the chart in this post called “The Best Comparison I Ever Read”. Getting along with family is a must for me when looking at potential mates. Having a steady, yet interesting thing is good, too. The relationship needs to be healthy, but as a popular saying goes, “Beauty fades, but stupid and boring are forever”. So true!!!!

    If you and your Saudi really want to be together, look at immigration laws. It may be easier for him to get American citizenship (or whatever) on a fiancee/marriage visa then go to work in Saudi Arabia on contract with a company out there. He may have to pay a fine, but if you want to stay together and are both educated, then it is do-able to pay it off. Besides, some things are more important than money. Also, I recommend looking in-depth at immigration laws and getting a good immigration lawyer.

  25. Annie, it’s Radha and her daughter, not me.

  26. I cancheck with F carol, But usually as soon as they know he’s saudi they spill all ..

    I think i get them to open up becase i’m married to one . Usually i ask straigh up if their family has chosed someone. If they yes but they don’t love her 🙂 … red flag.. you don’t really have to love your future spouse to be marrying her, as long as his family loves her it’s a done deal.
    Again i ask if he has a cousin who his mom likes ofr him. sometimes they say yes or no ,sometimes lie but the shock that you even now to ask give them away 🙂

    They may not be married, so make sure to ask them if they are engaged,comitted, familes talking, cousins int he pipeline etc., etc.,there are many steps in saudi between being single and married.. many many stages. and the older the guy is the higher the chances he’s in somestage of marriage process..

    It’s easy for me, i only see older saudi students, by the timethey are in the program and assigned they are usually between 26/27 and 30/31 they usually have some sort of deal back home…
    Maybe the younger ones don’t .

    I have never never seen them mess with any girl that can go back to saudi , there are plenty of girls with saudi dad’s who have visa/citizenships etc., but are raised here , i never see these kids date them girls ?? why wouldn’t it be easier. If you are after the westernized ones, these girls cannot be told apart from the american ones.. oh well guess no one wants mom and dad knowing about your misdeeds. what happens in US stays in the US i guess.

  27. Great questions and points, Radha. I always feel comfortable asking questions too and let them know that I was married to a Saudi and lived in the Kingdom.

    I’m pleased to say that Saudis I have met here in Charlotte have been really great individuals and representing the Kingdom very well.

  28. Oops Aafke-art! Thanks for your polite correction.

    Also thanks Radha for answering my question in spite of being misdirected. The questions you ask these students make sense. Also the point that “being in love” is not really relevant to future plans to marry.

    Great discussion.

  29. I wasn’t that polite? Just factual 😉

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  31. After reading this article i don’t know whether to think my boyfriend of a yr and a half has been lying to me, or just doesn’t fully understand the laws over there. My bf’s from Saudi and is studying here in the US under a scholarship he has. We have a wonderful relationship and after a yr of being together he said he wanted to marry me so he had us both recite some words in arabic. After we were done he said we were married under Allah and in our hearts we would b. I just found out a few days ago that i am 4 weeks pregnant. My bf is going back to saudi for christmas break and i keep asking him to tell is parents about me and our future child (if everything works out). First he said he would bring me back with him next summer to meet them but we would have to legally get married first. Then we talked about it again and he says he doesn’t want his family knowing about anything. He says it doesn’t matter if they know or not because he plans on living here in america after he is done with his study. After hearing the last thing he said to me, i felt really hurt. I feel like he is ashamed of me and his unborn child because we are a “sin” in his life. I don’t want me and my future child to b kept a secret forever from his family over there. What will i tell my future daughter/son when they ask me where is daddys family, or if worst comes to worst…..where is daddy. Before i found out i was pregnant and thought i was, he was excited and happy. He said he was happy he was having a baby with a women he loved and a women he chose himself. He even said how he wished our child got my blonde hair and green eyes. Then when we found out i really was he didn’t seem like he was happy at all. His thoughts and mood about everything changed completely. So yea….i thought i would reply to this article since i can relate to it and i just needed to write all that out n get it off my chest lol

  32. @susan,

    I feel bad for you, no one wants an unsupportive man especially whenpregnant, I hope you have a supportive family.

    I also hope you have a good job to support yourself and the baby.
    and the mental strength to go this with or without him.

    having said that did you really think saying a few words in a language you don’t understand means anything? would you sign a arabic document if he asks you to without insisting on it getting translated? would you sign a black sheet of paper and hand it to him?

    Did you read up on what encompases a Nikah? I understand marriage is just a meaningless piece of paper to a lot of people. Unfortunately we live in a legal world .

    would you say a few words in latin and think you are married per the christian faith or any other faith? NO? what makes you think it’s true in Islam?

    commitment does not need a piece of paper but it makes me angry to think that nowadays having kids is taken so lightly . It’s a great previlage and a great responsibility . It is something a couple does after great thought not as an afterthought. maybe i’m just oldfashioned or plain OLD but i really really don’t get kids nowadays. saudi or otherwise.

  33. @Susan

    This guy is full of shit. Is it too late to get an abortion?

  34. “off your chest” is not what I would be saying if I were you. I believe if you have your child and you do not stay in the USA you will not have control over your child. I tend to think that this young man may have cared for you but will not take a chance on telling his family about you or your child. May I suggest you speak to you parents, and think of yourself and the child first. I do not know how old you are but I think you should end this relationship and move on.

  35. Susan, I am very sorry for you, but it looks like this guy just wanted a sexual relationship and he lied to you.
    At this point you should think about yourself and your options. No need to be nice to him, he lied to you. You may never hear from him again, or he will whine a lot but never act for you. He lied to you, he will keep on lying.

    You need to think about your options now, about what’s best for you and the child. Think about the future, How are you going to support a child on your own, how will your and your child’s future look?
    He probably won’t be there to support you for the birth, you will have to go that alone too, are you prepared for that?
    If you decide to keep the baby make sure you press him for financial support for his baby. It’s his responsibility too. But that will end as soon as he’s finished and goes home.
    If you decide to end the pregnancy you will also incur costs for which he should pay his share, get your mental support from a good friend, not from him; he lies to you.
    You can tell him if he doesn’t give you money you will tell the Saudi embassy, but that is only a last resort, for he will loose his scholarship and be send home, and you will never get any help from him. This is not bad for him as he is a pig who lied to you, but it would be bad for you as you will never see any financial help from him.

  36. carol-

    Is it just me or do you see something wrong in kids nowadays?? arn’t they supposed to be smarter, wiser and have more access to the world ?

    I keep thinking carol what would have happened 25yrs ago if F and i had a friendship and he told me he wants to marry me and we should say a few words together and be married in our minds ? how about you ? I for one would have had one of 2 reactions, either i would have thought it was a big joke nad laughed to his face or I would have taken it seriously and given him a tight slap across his face . I’m talking about those dark days of eons ago.

    I come across as smug and uncaring but lately i feel the uncaring,self centered stupidity in youngsters are taken to a new high. Why do they not care about self -respect ?

    I can only sympathize with this generation , after seeing so many blatently plastic/false young men play with young women, i have to beleive either the men have got smarter and more cunning or the women have gone dumber . don’t know which.

  37. I don’t get it either. One google search, 30 minutes, and you will know everything you need to stay away especially from Saudi students.
    I don’t see any self respect either, maybe they are more desperate?
    But I don’t see why a woman should be desperate for a man, any man.
    Much better to get your studies done, get a future, get your own personality, and then start looking for a suitable mate.
    And please put up a list of minimal requirements! Try for a bloke of a certain level! And dump any bloke as soon as you find out he lies to you, and that includes changing and not honoring promises. And don’t have sex until you are sure he’s worth your while!

  38. “But I don’t see why a woman should be desperate for a man, any man.”

    +++1 Aafe-Art.

    Life is short and precious. Focus not another person who unable to be trustworthy and respectful to you.

    Look to yourself and do things that you enjoy that will not hurt anyone at all. That includes not lying to them.

    And your mind/heart will be at matter, where you are.

  39. I think you are correct in how you feel, but I think that young people especially the girls think that equality in a relationship means the ability to have sex and call it love. Today there is no problem with having children and being single except the ability to take care of them. Many young men from conservative countries think that American girls are loose because of what they see on TV, internet, or what they hear. Young girls like to be in love and a guy with a good good looks and an appetite are happy to oblige. I really would like to know how old this young lady is.

  40. @Susan,
    It sounds like you really need some time to think things over and talk to your boyfriend. If he wants to get legally married in the US with you, then I’d recommend talking to him about talking with immigration lawyers.

    Just FYI, but being pregnant before marriage is considered a very bad thing in Arab culture whether you’re Muslim, Christian, whatever. I do not know how much his parents will respect the kind of marriage ceremony you have described. That’s something you’d need to talk over with him. If he has, in fact, married you then it should be okay for you to meet his family over skype now that the two of you are married. (Of course, you would want to dress conservatively when meeting them to make a good impression.)

    To me, it sounds like the type of marriage you have described is a temporary marriage? Before you jump to conclusions about anything, talk to your boyfriend/husband. Find out what that means. It could be that he felt guilty about having sex with the woman he loves without being married and knew that to marry you legally was going to be a headache. However, if it is a temporary marriage, in order for it to be valid, he must give you something and a time period must be agreed upon between the two of you.

    If he introduces you to his family as his wife, then he is serious about you. If he doesn’t, I’d be more than a little concerned.

    I am personally against abortion, so I would not recommend that as an option. My parents didn’t abort me, and my mom was a teenager when I was born. I am eternally grateful to my parents for this. Yes, times were tough when I was little, but they were also enriching experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world.

  41. For the record, I’m not a strong believer in the “sanctity” of a legal marriage contract and I find something wrong with the concept of one person basically “owning” another. I may marry my significant other some day legally. However, I prefer the thought that he is with me because he wants to be, not because we are legally committed to each other to be. I could marry him legally tomorrow and nothing about our relationship would change, other than having to deal with all the legal headache associated with filing the marriage paperwork.

  42. @Crantode,
    I’ve never confused love with sex. Not all girls do.

    “At this point you should think about yourself and your options. No need to be nice to him, he lied to you. You may never hear from him again, or he will whine a lot but never act for you. He lied to you, he will keep on lying.
    You need to think about your options now, about what’s best for you and the child. Think about the future, How are you going to support a child on your own, how will your and your child’s future look?
    He probably won’t be there to support you for the birth, you will have to go that alone too, are you prepared for that?”

    Cynical much? Rather than advise her to distrust her man, why not give her man the benefit of the doubt and ask questions like “Have you been introduced to his family”.

    I was born to teen parents who had a lot of things going against them, but stuck together anyways. They didn’t have a whole lot of support early on in the relationship, but managed to tough it out together. My father is almost done with his PhD. My mom starts on her Master’s soon. I’ve already completed my Master’s. Money is no longer an issue for my family, either. So to answer the question of how will her or her child’s future look- I imagine it depends. It depends on how hard she’s willing to work.

    If I hadn’t have met my significant other this year, I probably would have started looking for a way of either adopting or getting pregnant on my own because I want to be a parent and I’m not going to rely on another person to fulfill my happiness and dreams in life.

  43. Strange one, but he lied to her. He told her mumbling a few magic words in Arabic would constitute a marriage so he could have sex and that was a big lie.
    He lied to her and has forfeited the benefit of the doubt.
    It’s called reality.

  44. He also ”forgot” to tell her he can not marry her for real, that she cannot come to Saudi, that without his family agreeing first they will not accept her, that having a baby before marriage has already given her the stigma of being a prostitute in their eyes. And no later marriage will change that. And that sex before marriage is not accepted by his family, society, religion etc. That it will take about 20 years to get marriage permission if at all.
    And we take it for granted he is not married yet. But is he? Or engaged to a cousin or somebody else at least selected and talks and negotiations on the way?
    This is not a man with moral standards.

    Of course, do moral standards apply? It is the male prerogative to treat women badly, there is no regard for women, all part of acceptable behavior of the culture you know. Not all man really treat women badly, but does anybody in Saudi Arabia loose sleep because of a man taking advantage of a woman? No. The shame and disgrace are all on the woman.

  45. Im 22 and i have a very busy life. I work two jobs as a cna (nurse assistant) and im goin to college right now for nursing. I have my own apt, i pay my own bills, and i don’t rely on anyone to support me. I feel like im mature enough to have a baby, but i don’t c where one would fit into my life right now.

    You ladies were all wondering about the so called “marriage” we had. I do not believe we are married and i even told him. He said that in his culture a lot of men and women perform this type of marriage without their families acknowledge because their families don’t approve of them being together. I told him i believe in the traditional type of wedding (im catholic btw) where the women receives a ring and legally gets married. Hes says we can have this type of wedding when he is done with his study but i don’t c this happening. I guess i will just have to c what the future holds. I just thought i would fill you ladies in a little more about me. Thank you all for the advice.

  46. @Susan
    That’s not all that common in Saudi Arabia, it’s the first I hear of it. At 22, you’ve accomplished a hell of a lot more than most, so good on you. I can not judge this guy because I do not know him, but he just reeks of bullshit. He wants something on the side while he’s finishing up his studies, and he’s going to leave you high and dry.

    For your sake, just cut off all communication with him after you get your closure. I’m sorry for recommending abortion since you’re Catholic, and that may conflict with your views. But if you do choose to go that route, planned parenthood offers payment if you can’t pay for one on your own.

    It’s not my place to tell you whether you should have the child or not. You’re 22, you’ve got plenty more years to look forward to bringing a kid into this world with a stable household. It’s not fair to you to be bringing a kid while working two jobs. You’ve done your job, you’ve earned your degree, you’re busting your ass off with work. Right now you want to build up as much work experience as you can. I hope I’m not overstepping my boundaries here, but I mentioned that it’s not fair to you, but it won’t be fair to the kid as well. Not that I’m saying single women can not raise a kid on their own, but you’re at a stage in your life where you’re building a life long career, so that’s your number one priority right now.

    I’m sure as a nurse you already know this. Me and my girlfriend had a pregnancy scare even while she was taking birth control, but birth control is not always effective, especially if you do not take it consistently at the proper times, so if you do choose to prolong the relationship for whatever reason, make sure he always has a condom on. Not only to protect you from pregnancy, but from possible STDs as well, if he’s lying about this, what else could he be lying about?

    Again, it’s completely your choice to have the child. But if you do, take his words with a grain of salt, and do not expect to see a dime from him go towards the kid. The only thing that truly worries, is that if he’s around when the child is born, and the child grows a bond with the male figure, and then your SO might choose to up and leave. That’s not right, nor is it fair to both you and your potential child.

    I wish you nothing but the best. I don’t have a God to pray to for you, but I’ll sincerely keep you in my thoughts.

  47. Hi Susan,

    it’s been brave of you to share your situation here, and I wish you a lot of luck. It sounds like you’re quite responsible, going to school and holding two jobs and having your own apartment. Now you have discovered some unforeseen complications in your relationship (some surprising cultural differences) and you have a child on the way. You’re at a pivotal point in your life; it could go in many different directions, and a lot hinges on this baby. Nothing tumbles a single working woman into poverty faster than an unexpected pregnancy; depending on your circumstances, you could lose everything that you have worked for, simply for want of childcare or healthcare. Please, please don’t wait; start to strategize NOW.

    If abortion is a possibility, then weigh that in there. If it’s not, then move immediately to get your family’s support. You’ll need it if this man does not stay with you. Bring him into your family circle, if you haven’t already. Show him as much respect as consideration as he deserves in your own culture as the father of your child; already, it seems that he hasn’t done the same for you, but do your best anyway. Many people are frightened at the prospect of an impending child when they are least prepared for it; your partner has some major cultural baggage, and he already has behaved badly according to the code of his own culture. He has a great deal more pressure than most.

    If he stays, best wishes to both of you, but it’s in your best interests to imagine your own worst-case scenario. So picture that, and decide what you can handle, and take your family into consideration. They can help you to make the best decisions. Surround yourself with supportive friends who will stand by you no matter what you decide. Do you know what a “decision tree” is? Sometimes mapping out the possibilities, good and bad, can be incredibly helpful.

    Your partner may stick around, but based on all the experienced and knowledgeable people making predictions on this site, he may not. Lots of people don’t, regardless of their culture. So do your best to take care of you and your child, and consider him as a possible but not sure factor.

    Best wishes and good luck!! Keep us posted, if you’re so inclined!

  48. Susan, it is clear you did not check his words, such a ”marriage” is completely unacceptable in the culture/religion. However, he could have married you and then dump you the moment he was finished with his studies, There is a fatwa which encourages this as proper for Saudi students, that would have constituted halal sex for him, and you would have had no idea what hit you when he would have said bye bye and divorced you.

    Whatever, I think if you keep the baby, you will have to go it alone, and the baby will never know his/her father.
    If he decides to do the honorable thing and stand by you and his baby, and marry you and stay in your country I would love to read about it here.

  49. @JC..thanks for sex ed 101..the girl is 22 I’m sure she knows what to do and what not to do.. one knows ure boyfriends here apart from yourself..really take the time to think things through..ask him some smart questions..that might lead to answers your looking for. Maybe you were already doubting things before you read this and things were just confirmed upon seeing this article..who knows..but all we know is u have a baby growing inside of you and what ever way you go i really wish you all the best really.

    @Aafke..”He told her mumbling a few magic words in Arabic would constitute a marriage so he could have sex and that was a big lie.”
    men dnt need to marry women in order to have relations with matter what religion or culture..some men don’t care about that part of it..seriously..your just assuming a lot here..u dnt know the ins and outs of their relationship or the man at hand. I feel sorry for the girl but there are always 3 sides to everything.
    also..”Susan, it is clear you did not check his words, such a ”marriage” is completely unacceptable in the culture/religion.”…what does that mean..can u please explain in more detail..?

  50. @Bella-Vita

    I did not know this information before hand, so there’s no harm in sharing. But you are right, that might have sounded a bit demeaning, which is why I included that she probably already knows this, doesn’t hurt sharing if she doesn’t know.

  51. @Aafke

    “There is a fatwa which encourages this as proper for Saudi students, that would have constituted halal sex for him, and you would have had no idea what hit you when he would have said bye bye and divorced you.”

    This is true. But if you’re keen on insight to Saudi society, it was ridiculed by many by making jokes of it via sms or e-mail forwards, and by many I mean the people that I know.

  52. @JC..ure rite def no harm in sharing..

  53. @Bella – ‘@JC..thanks for sex ed 101..the girl is 22 I’m sure she knows what to do and what not to do..’

    And what evidence did he have of that other than the unplanned pregnancy? LOL

  54. Please take the Rose colored glasses from you eyes. Marry this persons in the USA if you must but be sure to check you rights in regards to your situation. Legal marriage give you some protection without it be sure to have a good job and the ability to care for your child.

  55. Susan…Im not sure why your still asking questions and wondering about his true intentions. He is showing you who he is right now. People show you who they are and we get ourselves into trouble because we don’t believe them. We keep trying to convince ourselves that “my guy isn’t like that”…even though all signs and all proven history from other women in your (any you) shoes…prove that he is exactly like that.

    The basic and saddening fact that he doesn’t want his family to know about you should have you running for the hills already. You are his “dirty little secret” and even if you are ever made known to his family AND he finds his balls and marries you…you will always be his dirty little secret in the eyes of his family. They will not judge him that he slept around before marriage (even if a kid results from it) but will always judge you that you let him. If he doesn’t want you to meet his family…then chances are…his family aren’t the sort you want to meet. Most men are proud of their families..proud of their gf or wives and WANT their families to meet each other. The fact that he doesnt says oceans about him. Why are you still with him?

  56. Susan…I forgot I wanted to ask you something. Has he ever introduced you to any of his Saudi male friends? Your answer will tell you exactly what he thinks of his future with you (whether there is one or not).

    If you have met his friends..hang out with them…and he is perfectly fine with that…he does NOT intend to ever marry you. You are just the girl he is sleeping with and his friends know it..that is why he lets you hang out with them and doesnt get jealous. His jealousy is reserved for his wife (or if he intends to make you his wife in the future) and if he had intentions to make you his wife at any point…he would NEVER introduce you to his Saudi friends.

  57. @Susan,
    “You ladies were all wondering about the so called “marriage” we had. I do not believe we are married and i even told him. He said that in his culture a lot of men and women perform this type of marriage without their families acknowledge because their families don’t approve of them being together.”

    Actually, I have heard of this happening in the Arab world; I’m just not sure of how common it is in Saudi Arabia. Still, the key here is it is “because their families don’t approve of them being together”. This is what would worry me because it sounds like he thinks his parents would not approve of you. However, that is something you’d have to talk to him about. Also, be aware that such a marriage can end even before the time period agreed upon is up. See if he will introduce you to his family and what his reasons are for or against it.

    It is quite common for Arab men to want to wait until they are finished with their studies and are able to support a family (whatever this means to them) until they get married. So this could be his reason for wanting to wait. Also, he may be worried about how it would affect his ability to go to college in the US. However, it could also be that he is keeping his options open. Rather than listen to all of us on here, be aware of what the possibilities are, but use your judgement on what you think is happening.

    As for meeting his male friends, I am not sure how that works in our generation because with my ex-Saudi boyfriend, I had already met many of his friends before we ever started dating. In my current relationship, my boyfriend is from a different (Arab) culture, but I still was introduced to his friends and they were all happy for him. However, when I met friends from his country, he introduced me as “his wife”.

    I am not sure how the U.S. fiance visa would work in your particular case (which is why I recommend talking to an immigration lawyer specializing in cases like yours) but it is definitely something worth looking into. There are other work-visa options, too, but the fiance/spouse visa seems to be the easiest one with the quickest processing time.

    @JC, If you’re in a serious relationship with your girlfriend, you could see what she thinks of IUDs (Intra-uterine device), which have a very high effectivity rate.

  58. JC, you may be right, but I checked it, the fatwa was by Bin Baz, one of the most highly regarded, if not the most highly regarded Islamic scholar of Saudi Arabia. His words carry enormous weight. He was also the one who banned women from driving and that has not changed has it?
    More over , it shows the disdain, contempt and hatred for women these nasty bearded Neanderthals have!

  59. Strange One, if JC doesn’t want children but does want sex he can do stuff to himself to make sure he doesn’t get children. No need to put it all on the woman. A lot of women have horrible painful bad experiences with IUDs.

  60. @StrangeOne

    Thanks, I’ve never heard of those before. I’ll be sure to run it by her.

  61. @lynn..”And what evidence did he have of that other than the unplanned pregnancy? LOL”..Lynn just because someone gets accidentally pregnant don’t mean they are not aware of contraception or how to use it..thats why its called an u hear of 40 year olds getting pregnant that age they shud be pro’s. Sometimes its a spur of the moment decision/emotions and resulted in happens.
    @JC..research the IUD topic before hand not only by what a doc tells you (some can BS a lot)..some women have terrible side affects so be careful..

  62. @Bella-Vita

    Thanks. I already mentioned it to my girlfriend, she looked into it before in a previous relationship, and she wasn’t comfortable with it. But nonetheless thanks for the suggestion.

  63. @ Susan: I am very sorry to see how you are situated. trust me you are not alone.
    I get mail every week from women in exact the same situation. I so not want to spam, but i leave a link below. Some women have allready started to come together and support each other. Your babies deserve better. You maybe want to join women in the same situation and figvht for your babys future.

  64. @Bella – ‘Sometimes its a spur of the moment decision/emotions and resulted in happens’

    Yes, I’m well aware. Thank you anyway.

  65. @JC: Sorry; I only mentioned it because I considered it for myself.

    I looked into the various forms of birth control, and aside from condoms ( and family planning, etc.), the copper IUD was the only one I really would feel comfortable using. I have no personal experiences with it yet, though I am currently considering it as a possibility.

    For temporary birth control, generally speaking it is easier for the woman (aside from condoms). For permanent methods, generally speaking, it is easier for the man (i.e. vasectomy). I prefer to go with the easiest, most effective route possible.

  66. @StrangeOne

    No worries! I’m quite clueless, and I learned something new. Apparently it’s not new found knowledge to the potential Mrs.JC, but hey she’s always quick to correct me anyways.

  67. @Radha – I am certainly feeling my age when I hear about youth today and the differing mindsets and actions!!!

    @Susan – as you are Catholic and not ready for a child of your own yet, I hope you will consider adoption. There are so many couples in the US wanting to adopt and who can give a wonderful life to a child.

  68. Just to way in on the convo, i also came across this blog because my closest friend is a saudi guy (26) and I am an american christian girl (27). He also has american citizenship because he was born here while his saudi parents were studying but moved back at 1 and stayed there till 22 or so. The he came back here to study more and look for jobs/travel.

    He pretty much has it all, free edu., free living situation, travels with his extra money whenever. He parties all the time, gets drunk, and I don’t like it. I probably would have quit being his friend a while back, except that where I live there are not many young people and I’m kinda in the country, so I try to keep the friends I meet. However, now we are long distance friends, so we don’t see each other but maybe once a year.

    We met at a job interview and then started hanging out. We were both new to the area. We started dating shortly thereafter. I happened to be a very conservative Christian and I think he liked that. However, he is not conservative on any measure. I have met his two brothers and they are all different. So I won’t make any blanket statements. (He also told me he loved me and wanted to marry me within week! I told him thanks. ^^)

    But recently I told him that he was too crazy for me and I was too religious for him and that I didn’t want to be friends anymore. He pretty much didn’t want to accept it. He is travelling abroad in South America now. He doesn’t really have any intention of going back to Saudi except to visit his fam a few weeks a year. We have never “slept” together, but he sees nothing wrong with it because he has already done it with other girls. I have tried to convince him not to do it anymore, but he doesn’t care. I wonder if they have “sex education” in Saudi about diseases and health problems that could arise from being promiscious? He just doesn;t seem to think or worry about that. Also, he told me Saudi National Day, was also like “National hook-up day”….I don’t know if we will continue to be friends……..

  69. @AmericanGirl

    Friends usually have common ground. Whether it’s hobbies, sense of humor, attitudes, etc.

  70. the Crossroads Arabia blog has an article on a crackdown on Saudi students who are violating their scholarship rules.

  71. It’s very upsetting to here about the women who have been abandoned by their Saudi boyfriends when they are pregnant. It shows how conditioned these men are by their conservative culture.

    I want to share some advice I got from an elderly Egyptian woman in regards to Saudi men. Her response, “Just take their money, and don’t waste your time getting married!” I found it quit funny, but perhaps she had a point.

    Previously, I felt the Saudi men were to blame for their lack of agency over marriage. However, we need to consider the Saudi mentality, where the focus is on “we” rather than “I.” Most Saudis are raised with a “we” (as in their family) mentality, and they have not adapted to the Western mentality of individualism. I’m sure many Saudis are not fully aware of what will happen when they fall in love with a foreigner. For sure many of them go overseas and feel dejected and lonely, and thus they yearn for love. If anything, I blame the culture and the government for basically placing politics on the human need to be loved. They are caught between their needs and what’s expected of them. Sure, we can say they have the choice to navigate their own lives, but it’s easier said than done.

  72. ‘Sure, we can say they have the choice to navigate their own lives, but it’s easier said than done’

    Which is why it is SO important to have this information out there. Unfortunately it is most likely too late by the time the girl finally gets this kind of information. Seriously, who out there researches different nationalities in order to know which ones are not compatible? It doesn’t work that way, If you tell people to play it safe and ‘stay within your culture’ you’d get lambasted for being an ignorant bigot. Yep, my dad got labeled that by all of us when my sister was marrying her Italian husband. He did not approve, he said that she would never be fully accepted into that Italian family and some other points that I can’t really remember all that he said right now, I was just a kid at the time but I knew that he was just being a bigot. Well, what do you know? I don’t know how many tears my sister shed over being treated like an outsider, having people around her all speaking Italian even though they spoke perfect English, having the Italian mother coming first at ALL times as well as her husband thinking that he did not have to keep my sister ‘in the loop’ as far as business and finances went and he never considered that he had to be faithful only unto her. Yep, they ended up going through a bitter divorce (matches the bitter marriage) and her life is pretty miserable now. She’s decided that the best thing for her to do now is to become a ‘crazy cat lady’:-D I guess she should have just listened to father. I’m sure that there are plenty of Italian immigrant families that accept their non-Italian in-laws but is it worth the risk? I bet it is a MUCH better risk than getting involved with a Saudi that is just here going to school or working.

  73. oh jeez Lynn…I’ve always been known as a ‘crazy cat lady.’


  75. Saudi culture has many issues with misogyny. There are a lot of eligible (non-Saudi) men out there – I strongly discourage any woman from getting involved with a Saudi man (either as friends or otherwise)….. If you are ‘friends’ they will still be viewing you sexually. Even if they marry you (which is unlikely), their culture will never respect you (it does not matter if you are muslim or not). And they have it in their minds that they will play in a foreign land. Ever heard of student marriages?

    Girls beware…. When we are young and innocent, we want to be open minded but you can never change a man’s indoctrinated culture.

  76. Dear American Bedu, can you tell me what happens if a Saudi sponsored student decides to stay in the US and marry after his or her studies are completed? Are there any risks for this couple or not?

  77. Ok I am saudi woman…and I will make short for you!!!


    you will never married them and stteled down!!!! may be only 1-2% would do that!!!!!

    is it worth risking??? its not!!! find any other nationality, much much better!!! you don’t have to go all of this hell!!!

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