By Mohammad Hadhadh
Saudi Gazette/Okaz | Jeddah
19 April 2009
Although there are stories of Saudis who have fathered children in foreign countries only to abandon them there without support, this story is about a man whose fervent wish is that his two daughters might be given permission to live with him in the Kingdom which is their country.
Hussain Al-Aqbi, a 46-year-old Saudi taxi driver, does not pay attention to the noise around him as he is busy thinking about his two daughters who have been waiting for him in Thailand for 19 years. He has not been able to bring them to Saudi Arabia because of his financial situation, preferring to leave them with their Thai mother until he finds a way to bring them to their country.
Al-Aqbi explained his point while looking at his daughters’ pictures saying that it all started when he was 23 years old and had a small business after his father’s death. Unfortunately, the business failed and he was asked to pay SR60,000. He preferred not to face the problem and decided to escape with a friend to Thailand where he stayed for ten years.
“There, I met Rena who was a local schoolteacher and we fell in love. I married her and we had two daughters. I started my own business there and lived with my wife at her family’s farm,” he said.
“In 1992,” he continued, “I had to return to Saudi Arabia to renew my passport. But when I came back to the Kingdom, I was jailed because of the SR60,000 that I had never paid. I had not been in prison for long when the judge issued a verdict that I was insolvent and released me. I immediately rushed to Thailand to continue my life there.”
Then his business in Thailand started to decline and he was forced to declare bankruptcy. He decided to come back to Saudi Arabia to make some money, but when he came, he found that his relative, to whom he had given a power of attorney, had stolen most of his property and money in the Kingdom.
He worked then as a taxi driver hoping to send some money to his family in Thailand. His wife, however, asked him to divorce her because of his long absence from her and his family.
“I divorced her and let my two daughters remain with her so that they could continue their studies,” said Al-Aqbi, “but I couldn’t stop thinking of them. Years flew by and I could not make enough money to go back. I began to lose my mind thinking of them, so I took a loan of SR70,000 from a bank last year and traveled to see my daughters hoping that I could bring them to Saudi Arabia.”
He explained that when his daughters saw him after so long, they cried and begged him not to leave them again.
“I promised to take them to Saudi Arabia no matter what it was going to cost,” said Al-Aqbi. “I took them to the Saudi Embassy in Thailand and requested permission to take them with me to Saudi Arabia. I submitted my marriage papers to the embassy which asked my daughters to give up their Thai citizenship so they could live in Saudi Arabia. They did what they were asked, but then an unexpected thing happened.”
“After my daughters relinquished their Thai citizenship, the procedure in the Saudi Embassy took so long time that I was finally told that they had lost my papers and that I had to submit new ones,” said Al-Aqbi.
Al-Aqbi had to travel back to Saudi Arabia to start over the procedure all again.
The problem now is that his daughters were stopped from studying because they had relinquished their Thai citizenship.
The elder one, Sara, was studying Japanese literature and her younger sister, Malekah, was studying power engineering.
“I couldn’t go back to them as I had used up all the money I took from the bank. I hope the Saudi Foreign Ministry will help me in bringing my daughters to their country. I can’t live without them any more,” he said.