Monday, July 07, 2008

What Can You Even Say to This?

Who knew that a woman marrying a non-Saudi was such an issue? There was an article in the Arab News sometime ago that said that Saudi women only married non-Saudi men for one reason, "Usually, women who marry non-Saudis don't really have a choice. I mean she didn't marry the man because he's good looking or rich, but because her chances of getting married had decreased and her desire to be a mother was the driving force of this decision." I disagreed.

Maha Akeel's article in today's Arab News explains just how difficult it really is for a Saudi woman to marry a non- Saudi. Read it if you have a minute or two. Miss Akeel says that it took a Saudi friend of hers months of running around from one office to another to get permit allowing her marriage to a non-Saudi to take place and that "The authorities would reject an application if the woman is under 25 years; it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a never-before-married Saudi girl under 25-years to be permitted to marry a non-Saudi. If the woman is divorced, a doctor, or handicapped, then it is much easier to get the permit. A Saudi man does not fancy a woman in this category to be his wife. Such women can go for "the second best choice." So basically, the restrictions are not meant to protect Saudi women but for guaranteeing that Saudi men have the first chance to marry a Saudi woman. In other words, if a woman had exhausted all her chances in marrying a Saudi as the better choice and has become old (over 25), used-goods (divorced), or is highly educated or disabled, then she can be permitted to marry a non-Saudi even if it is her first choice." Incredible. Just the mind-set, alone.

I wonder what kind of response Miss Akeel's article will get. My expectations in this regard are always dashed; when I posted "Sane Voices in The Sandbox," I anticipated that Tariq Al-M
aeena would get a huge response, and if he did, we didn't read about it. I watched and waited; when the response was finally reported, it was disappointing.

This time I won't expect an onslaught of response, but I would think more than a few women and maybe even a couple of men might have something to say to Miss Akeel who writes, "...why do we assume that a Saudi man is always the better choice? The type of qualities a Saudi man finds "undesirable" in a woman indicates his shallowness and narrow-mindedness. This also give you an idea of the perception a Saudi man has of a future wife and her role in his life. I dare to assume that few Saudi men consider the wife a true partner. They are there to fulfill bodily needs, procreate and keep house." Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark. I give Miss Akeel a great deal of credit for writing her article and Arab News credit for even publishing it!

Miss Akeel quite bluntly explains how her friend "...had to sign an affidavit to the effect that she is not forced into this marriage and that she is marrying this man of her own volition. How I wish the bureau asked the same question to the 12-year-old girls being married off by their fathers to 60-year-old men as a third or forth wife... How many of our officials bother to ask a girl directly and privately, especially if she is young, whether she is being forced into the marriage or agrees to it?"

Response - good, bad or indifferent - to Miss Akeel's article will get space, here.

And, speaking of... "Being married can be like having a job... some fathers have decided to treat prospective sons-in-law like job applicants." Do these fathers have any idea that a "CV" is probably one of the easiest documents in the world to pad and embellish? What are the statistics that show that the majority of r
ésumés, or "CV's" in this part of the world are not always 100% accurate and truthful?

I know that in the past I've been guilty of using what I like to call "creative wording" when it came to writing my r
ésumé - and it wasn't just my résumé. I was more than willing to assist anyone that needed help in this regard. I considered myself to be quite good at this. For example, when I first started out working in law offices some twenty-five-plus years ago I was a "legal assistant," when I decided I had had enough of the County Attorney's office after three years and wanted to move on to something else. As I was the only staff person in a three-person office - it was the County Attorney, the Assistant County Attorney, and me - I called myself a "legal administrator" instead of "legal assistant." It wasn't an "untruth" because I was all of those things at that particular office, but it was stretching the truth just a bit by glorifying the position I had at the County Attorney's office in an effort to move up the proverbial corporate ladder to bigger and better opportunities. Doesn't everyone do this? What's to stop potential husbands from doing the same?

Abdullah Al-Salami says that "The CV provides me with about 60 percent of the information I need to know about the young man proposing to marry my daughter. ...that this requisite helps him identify young suitors who were not forthcoming about their backgrounds." Umm hmmm. Yeah. Because NO ONE would ever be less than "forthcoming" about their background on a CV or

Just a bit more on the marriage issue... May Al-Shaie has an article, also in today's Arab News, and opines that "a premarital psychology test must be made mandatory" before marriage. I'd be more inclined to think that if men and women chose each other instead of having the choice arranged that the premarital psychology test would be unnecessary...


  1. Saudi women marrying non Saudis still don't have the right to pass on their nationality to their children. Or even easily keep the husband in the country like the men do. Men have to get permission as well, and at times aren't the easiest to get. However it isn't the same for the women who have to beg and plead not be be left as some spinster at the age of thirty.

  2. It is all just so "foreign" to us Westerner's, NZ. Even your very detailed account of weddings, here, is difficult for "us" to fathom. All just so, so different from what "our" customs are.

  3. I am a Saudi woman married to a Turkish man. It took over 2yrs to get permission from the ministry of interiors. Blv me it was such a pain.
    Never will i understand why my country-a supposedly islamic country- would sanction a marriage permitted by religion.
    The 2yrs trying to get the permission were a mess. Running from person to person asking for help since most of the work is done thru wasta or bribes. In the end my permission was bought for around 50k riyals. The entire process is a sham and just a way to make the saudi woman disillusioned so she chooses to marry a saudi who will then marry 3 over her.


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