Nine things I wish I’d known before getting married to a Saudi

Published November 9th, 2016 - 23:08 GMT

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Love is blind and can sometimes lead us into passionate affairs in unchartered territory. Some of the most challenging unions can also be the most interesting and sometimes that means finding love outside of one’s community and culture.

 
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If you plan to wed your Saudi love within the rules of the Kingdom, your fiance will need to obtain special exemption from the government to marry a non-Saudi. The process is long and bureaucratic, but a necessary evil if you want your union to be lawful in KSA.
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Image 1 of 9:  1 / 9If you plan to wed your Saudi love within the rules of the Kingdom, your fiance will need to obtain special exemption from the government to marry a non-Saudi. The process is long and bureaucratic, but a necessary evil if you want your union to be lawful in KSA.

Enlarge
As KSA does not grant tourist visas, the foreign spouse is dependent on the Saudi partner to be allowed into the country. In this case it is absolutely possible for the Saudi to send their partner out on a final exit visa if things turn sour.
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Image 2 of 9:  2 / 9As KSA does not grant tourist visas, the foreign spouse is dependent on the Saudi partner to be allowed into the country. In this case it is absolutely possible for the Saudi to send their partner out on a final exit visa if things turn sour.

Enlarge
As of only last month, foreign men wishing to marry Saudi women must undergo a premarital drug test for all drugs, narcotics and liquors. It goes without saying that testing positive for any of these substances will have the applicant’s permission for marriage rejected.
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Image 3 of 9:  3 / 9As of only last month, foreign men wishing to marry Saudi women must undergo a premarital drug test for all drugs, narcotics and liquors. It goes without saying that testing positive for any of these substances will have the applicant’s permission for marriage rejected.

Enlarge
Another factor to keep in mind should the couple divorce is that Saudi men will almost automatically be granted custody of children past age of infancy unless it can be proven they are very unfit parents.
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Image 4 of 9:  4 / 9Another factor to keep in mind should the couple divorce is that Saudi men will almost automatically be granted custody of children past age of infancy unless it can be proven they are very unfit parents.

Enlarge
Saudi Arabia is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, therefore should a Saudi parent kidnap a child from the spouse, there are no repercussions within Saudi borders as it is not considered an abduction.
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Image 5 of 9:  5 / 9Saudi Arabia is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, therefore should a Saudi parent kidnap a child from the spouse, there are no repercussions within Saudi borders as it is not considered an abduction.

Enlarge
Once you are finally settling into married bliss, custom would have it that most family functions are segregated by sex. Some homes have separate entrances, living rooms and quarters for men and women. So be prepared to be kept apart from each other… literally.
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Image 6 of 9:  6 / 9Once you are finally settling into married bliss, custom would have it that most family functions are segregated by sex. Some homes have separate entrances, living rooms and quarters for men and women. So be prepared to be kept apart from each other… literally.

Enlarge
For the ladies, it’s illegal for you to drive. So you better get used to relying on your husband as well as professional drivers to get around. This restriction on independent mobility of course can make life feel rather isolated and restricted.
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Image 7 of 9:  7 / 9For the ladies, it’s illegal for you to drive. So you better get used to relying on your husband as well as professional drivers to get around. This restriction on independent mobility of course can make life feel rather isolated and restricted.

Enlarge
Saudi families are tribal, interconnected and very involved in each other’s lives. This means a huge support network (numbering up into the thousands!) for the couple but also a lot of input and influence on your life. Expect some meddling!
Reduce

Image 8 of 9:  8 / 9Saudi families are tribal, interconnected and very involved in each other’s lives. This means a huge support network (numbering up into the thousands!) for the couple but also a lot of input and influence on your life. Expect some meddling!

Enlarge
On the bright side, if you get in good with your Saudi family however, you’ll have unity and support like no other. And more importantly, as long as your spouse has your best interests at heart, love and happiness will prevail.
Reduce

Image 9 of 9:  9 / 9On the bright side, if you get in good with your Saudi family however, you’ll have unity and support like no other. And more importantly, as long as your spouse has your best interests at heart, love and happiness will prevail.

Enlarge

1

If you plan to wed your Saudi love within the rules of the Kingdom, your fiance will need to obtain special exemption from the government to marry a non-Saudi. The process is long and bureaucratic, but a necessary evil if you want your union to be lawful in KSA.

Image 1 of 9If you plan to wed your Saudi love within the rules of the Kingdom, your fiance will need to obtain special exemption from the government to marry a non-Saudi. The process is long and bureaucratic, but a necessary evil if you want your union to be lawful in KSA.

2

As KSA does not grant tourist visas, the foreign spouse is dependent on the Saudi partner to be allowed into the country. In this case it is absolutely possible for the Saudi to send their partner out on a final exit visa if things turn sour.

Image 2 of 9As KSA does not grant tourist visas, the foreign spouse is dependent on the Saudi partner to be allowed into the country. In this case it is absolutely possible for the Saudi to send their partner out on a final exit visa if things turn sour.

3

As of only last month, foreign men wishing to marry Saudi women must undergo a premarital drug test for all drugs, narcotics and liquors. It goes without saying that testing positive for any of these substances will have the applicant’s permission for marriage rejected.

Image 3 of 9As of only last month, foreign men wishing to marry Saudi women must undergo a premarital drug test for all drugs, narcotics and liquors. It goes without saying that testing positive for any of these substances will have the applicant’s permission for marriage rejected.

4

Another factor to keep in mind should the couple divorce is that Saudi men will almost automatically be granted custody of children past age of infancy unless it can be proven they are very unfit parents.

Image 4 of 9Another factor to keep in mind should the couple divorce is that Saudi men will almost automatically be granted custody of children past age of infancy unless it can be proven they are very unfit parents.

5

Saudi Arabia is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, therefore should a Saudi parent kidnap a child from the spouse, there are no repercussions within Saudi borders as it is not considered an abduction.

Image 5 of 9Saudi Arabia is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, therefore should a Saudi parent kidnap a child from the spouse, there are no repercussions within Saudi borders as it is not considered an abduction.

6

Once you are finally settling into married bliss, custom would have it that most family functions are segregated by sex. Some homes have separate entrances, living rooms and quarters for men and women. So be prepared to be kept apart from each other… literally.

Image 6 of 9Once you are finally settling into married bliss, custom would have it that most family functions are segregated by sex. Some homes have separate entrances, living rooms and quarters for men and women. So be prepared to be kept apart from each other… literally.

7

For the ladies, it’s illegal for you to drive. So you better get used to relying on your husband as well as professional drivers to get around. This restriction on independent mobility of course can make life feel rather isolated and restricted.

Image 7 of 9For the ladies, it’s illegal for you to drive. So you better get used to relying on your husband as well as professional drivers to get around. This restriction on independent mobility of course can make life feel rather isolated and restricted.

8

Saudi families are tribal, interconnected and very involved in each other’s lives. This means a huge support network (numbering up into the thousands!) for the couple but also a lot of input and influence on your life. Expect some meddling!

Image 8 of 9Saudi families are tribal, interconnected and very involved in each other’s lives. This means a huge support network (numbering up into the thousands!) for the couple but also a lot of input and influence on your life. Expect some meddling!

9

On the bright side, if you get in good with your Saudi family however, you’ll have unity and support like no other. And more importantly, as long as your spouse has your best interests at heart, love and happiness will prevail.

Image 9 of 9On the bright side, if you get in good with your Saudi family however, you’ll have unity and support like no other. And more importantly, as long as your spouse has your best interests at heart, love and happiness will prevail.

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It is uncommon for Saudis to marry outside of the Kingdom, particularly Saudi women. The number of mixed marriages statistically remains very low. This is likely due to the number of hurdles the couple must go through in order to acquire governmental permission to marry, among other challenges. However, it appears that Saudis looking for love outside of their home country is slowly beginning to grow.

 

Al Bawaba obtained a special insight into what marriage can really be like in Saudi Arabia for foreign spouses thanks to an anonymous source who lived the experience and can tell the tale. In the words of our ‘informant’, these are nine facts he or she wished they had known before entering into marriage with a Saudi. Learn these facts and decide for yourself whether to run for the hills or brave the unknown! 

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