The Procedure In Saudi Arabia For Nationals To Marry Non-Saudis

Even in progressive western countries, people wanting to marry others of another nationality do have to think of immigration laws and regulations. In Saudi Arabia, the couple has to obtain official permission to marry. If they decide to live in Saudi Arabia, they have to apply for a long-stay residence permit for the non-Saudi partner, which does not seem unreasonable. However, some personal stories indicate how difficult these processes can be.

Case Of The Saudi Reporter Hassna Mokhta Who Left Her Country For Canada

Hassna Mokhta, a reporter on Arab News, had married an Arab-Canadian in June 2008 “after a year of frustration in order to obtain the Interior Ministry’s permission” (ie, permission to marry a non-Saudi).  Nearly 2 years later, Hassna Mokhta decided to leave Saudi Arabia for Canada because her husband could not get a residence permit. Her husband had had to leave Saudi Arabia twice, when his temporary permits lapsed. Hassna Mokhta’s efforts to obtain a residence permit for him had been rewarded only by humiliation (such as name calling) and approaches for bribes by people who claimed to know how to manipulate the system.
Case Of The Marriage-Licence Clerk

At one point during her year’s application for permission to marry, Hassna Mokhta asked the clerk at the marriage licence office why it was so difficult to get permission, only to find out that the clerk too was facing the same problem. The clerk’s answer was that “the country wants to protect you”. Knowing that Hassna Mokhta was a journalist, she then pleaded with her to write about the problem because the clerk herself also wanted to marry a non-Saudi but was told she had to resign her job first before she could get a permit.

Is It Easier For Saudi Men Wanting To Marry Non-Saudis?

According to Hassna Mokhta, Saudi men do not face the same difficulty. She wrote: “If a Saudi man desires to marry a non-Saudi or two (or three or four) he is automatically issued a residency visa with the marriage certificate. Not only that, but after a few years and a couple of children, the non-Saudi wife is granted Saudi nationality. Their children are also Saudi by birth whether they are born in Saudi Arabia or on Mars”. Writing in support of Hassna Mokhta, Amal Zahid, a columnist, asks, “Why did we make polygamy a solution to spinsterhood and not the facilitation of marriages of Saudi women to non-Saudi men whether they are Muslim Arabs or non-Muslim Arabs?” She also commented, “The universe will crumble if a Saudi woman dares to think of marrying a man from another nationality, but a Saudi man can marry up to four women regardless of nationality”.

Such sentiments may not project the whole picture. Tara Umm Omar is an American lady married to a Saudi and living in Saudi Arabia. She runs a blog, Future Husbands and Wives of Saudis, that helps people make the right decisions about marrying Saudis and that gives guidance on the Saudi marriage approval process. She was livid at what Hassna Mokhta had to go through. But her own experience marrying a Saudi man has not been all that smooth-sailing either. Tara Umm Omar queries how the Saudi rules are safeguarding her husband’s rights by refusing to give them a new marriage certificate despite granting them official marriage permission, thus leaving her without an iqamah (residence permit), and her son without a Saudi passport or national identification card.

Think About It

Why does Saudi Arabian law make it so difficult for Saudis to marry non-Saudis? If it is to protect the Saudi partner, what exactly is it protecting? Is it being counter-productive? Is it causing the country to lose valuable citizens, who feel they have no choice but to emigrate when they marry a non-Saudi? Is it more difficult for women than for men to marry a non-Saudi? If so, why?

4 Thoughts on “What Does It Take For Saudis To Marry Non-Saudis?

  1. sishar on August 23, 2011 at 8:52 PM said:

    good day! where can the saudi guy get this marriage license? to whom they will going to ask regarding this case? will it took so long to get this license? please.. i need your help..thank u so much!! :)

  2. Abdur Rauf Abbasi on November 15, 2010 at 3:54 AM said:

    Saudi Arabia is one of the worse country in the world in terms of human rights records. They violate the basic principle of equality in Islam. All the Muslims are equal regardless of their colour, cost or creed but in Saudi Arabia its opposite to what Prophet said in his last message. During the prophet’s time more than 40000 slaves were freed. But now the Mufti of Saudi Arabia is issuing religious decree to justify slavery. Its against Islam. Saudi have gone astray and deserve to be punished by God.

  3. Taken away on September 27, 2010 at 9:21 AM said:

    I was in dilemma thinking about the difficulties in havin a family with saudi nationals will put me offguard against my right as a woman to live freely exactly the way i live life in a country where i grew up. Considering that their citizens is somehow open for western cultures, their government still is into the laws that doesnt safe guard the human rights on equality.

  4. Liezl on May 18, 2010 at 12:11 AM said:

    This is a very nice article about relationship. I have also asked this before, marrying someone with different nationality. I really think it is okay as long as they have respect and awareness to each other’s culture.

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