Non-Saudi Wife Of A Saudi Interview: Umm Riyam

photocreditbeverlyandpackUmm Riyam is the creator of the Gulf Wives forum which she describes in this FHWS post. Thank you, Umm Riyam!


-What country are you from?  United States

-What is your nationality? American

-Are you married to a Saudi or non-Saudi? Saudi

-Do you live in Saudi Arabia and for how long? Yes, 2 years

-What is your job in your country of residence? Stay at home mom

– When and where did you meet your Saudi husband? I met my husband in 2001.  We were taking the same class at the university.

-How long did you know your husband before the marriage took place? Almost 3 years

-Did his family accept his marriage to you? Why/Why not?  No, they wanted him to marry a Saudi, and of course they were afraid that the marriage would fail.

-Did your family accept your marriage to him? Why/Why not? Yes.  They liked him.


-How did you/your husband overcome the resistance (if any) to your marriage? Prayer and thinking about his future and what he wanted for his life

-How are your relations with your family/in-laws now after marrying your husband? Everything is good alhamdulillah.

-What is your advice when a non-Saudi woman meets her potential/future Saudi in-laws?  Smile, try to interact with the other women, try speaking Arabic, know a bit about the culture before meeting your Saudi in-laws.

-Do you like living in Saudi Arabia? Please explain why you like living in Saudi Arabia and why you don’t.  Yes, I like living in Saudi Arabia, but I wish that Saudi Arabia is a little closer to the US so I can visit my family more.  I like living in Saudi Arabia because it’s a Muslim country, so it’s easy to practice Islam here, and Makkah and Madinah are here.

-What would you like to see improved in Saudi Arabia? The roads, driving

-Do you think you should change anything about yourself in order to fit into Saudi society? Somewhat.  You have to be willing to adapt and accept the Saudi culture.  There will be times when you will wear clothes you don’t like and go places you don’t want to, but it’s all part of fitting in and making your in-laws happy.

-What do you think about the abaya and is it a problem for you to wear it?  I am happy to wear abaya, so it’s no problem for me to wear it.

-Do you have children? yes

-Is your Saudi husband involved in raising your children? Yes, ma sha’ Allah

-Does your Saudi husband help you with the house chores? Somewhat.  He takes out the trash and recycling, and he helps whenever I ask him to.

-What do you think non-Saudis should know about Saudi women? They are mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, and friends.  Some of them are stay at home moms, some own businesses, and some work.  They’re just like other women from all over the world. 

-Do you feel trapped in Saudi Arabia or do you feel comfortable living here? I do feel comfortable living here, but I can understand feeling trapped as well, especially when you have children, and you know that if the marriage goes bad, then you may lose your children and you cannot take them with you.

-Do you think a non-Saudi can be happy in Saudi Arabia? Yes

-Do you think you would be willing/able to live in Saudi Arabia alone? Why/Why not? I would only stay in Saudi Arabia alone because of my children if I were divorced or widowed.

-Do you think a non-Saudi woman would have any problems living alone in Saudi Arabia? I think it would be difficult as a woman living alone here.  Of course you can find a way to do everything you need to, but everything is easier if you have a man to do it for you or drive you around.

-What advice would you give a non-Saudi considering marriage to a Saudi?  I think it’s something that deserves a lot of thought and prayer about.  There are so many factors to consider when marrying a Saudi.  You have to ask yourself and your future Saudi husband many questions.

Some things I think are worth considering:
1. Where will you live?  House, apartment, in a compound?  What city will you live in, or will you be in a small village?  Will he ever expect you to live with his parents?  How close will his parents be to where you will live?
2. How often will you be visiting his family?  How much time will you spend home alone?
How is his relationship with his family?  Is he expected to give money to his family, and how do you feel about that?  Is his family very tribal or traditional or are they very modern?  How much do the Saudi culture and the western culture affect the family?
3. Does he want a maid or driver?  How do you feel about having a maid/nanny or not having one?  Will he allow you to travel by taxi alone?
4. What kind of job does he have?  Is it stable?  Do you think he will make enough money to give you a comfortable lifestyle?  Will he be able to afford vacations to your home country?
Will he allow you to work outside the home?
5. Are you Muslim?  Are you Muslim because you want to be or because you want to marry a Saudi?  Do your religious views align with his?  Is he the type that may take a second wife, and how do you feel about that?
6. Children- How was he raised?  How does he want his children to be raised?  How much will he be involved in raising his children?  What will happen to the children if you get divorced or are widowed?  How many kids do you each want?
All Saudi men are different when they’re abroad than when they’re home in Saudi Arabia.  Mostly this has to do with the culture and the fact that no one knows them or judges them when they’re abroad.  So, don’t be surprised when your Saudi husband treats you differently here than they did when you were in your country.  I don’t mean in a bad way either, just differently.  For example, you want to return something to a store.  In the US, he would let you talk to a male cashier and take care of it, but not in Saudi Arabia.  Here, he has to do it.  It’s up to you to decide before you move here how much he will change.  Hopefully he will be honest with you about the different lifestyle you will be living here as compared to in your country.  Don’t be afraid to ask him questions or demand answers about Saudi Arabia and the lifestyle here.  It’s important for you to know as much as you can before you make the big move.
The last thing I have to add is that you have to be aware of the Saudi marriage permission process.  Saudis aren’t allowed to marry foreigners without permission from the government.  The process can be long, ranging from months to years, and it’s extremely difficult for most couples to go through this time apart.  So, you really go from one difficult time into another once you move here.  It can be extremely hard on your marriage, so do what you can to prepare and keep your marriage solid.
Photo Credit


***This post has been picked up by Tweetmeme, Broken Controller masha’Allah***



Published by

Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

22 thoughts on “Non-Saudi Wife Of A Saudi Interview: Umm Riyam”

  1. >Abu Abdullah- Wa alaikum salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh. Masha'Allah thank you for the compliment and ameen to your du'a for Umm Riyam. Insha'Allah she will respond to you soon.I've read that post before. I think there are some true observations stated in it which areneither positive nor negative and just a matter of opinion. I personally know some reverts who have gone through the stage of "losing" their identity which I think is normal when changing from another religion that is totally different than the religion they followed before. I've experienced it myself as a new Muslimah married to my ex-husband who was of a different culture than mine. Alhamdulillah I lost and found a new identity. We do not all go through the same stages. Some of us get confused along the way, overwhelmed and are uncertain about our new identity. Some embrace it readily and are comfortable with their choice and transition. Some go to the extreme and become harsh, you may be familiar with the term "ghuloo" (harshness) that some Muslims exhibit when trying to give da'wah to non-Muslims and islah to fellow Muslims. You will get no where fast disputing with people. It is better to discuss with them in a gentle way with good words. Honey draws bees, not vinegar=people are more perceptive to gentle persuasion rather than harsh rhetoric. Also Islam is easy and we Muslims were not sent to make things difficult for others. Muslimsshould take the middle path and don't be so strict or we'll get discouraged and don't be so strict with others or we'll discourage them!


  2. >Salaam'alaikum,Very nice article. You know I read what Abu Adullah posted. Seriously, if some women always have that negative attitude on life and "thinking" they are trapped, they will always be trapped. I know some women don't have rights because how men put culture before religon but the woman who do have rights sometimes like to have that negative outlook on everything making it seem like they have no rights. These women who think like that have the rest of the world thinking that women in the gulf are oppressed when they really aren't. I'm trying to make some sense. I had it all in my head what I wanted to post but it's not coming out the way I tended. Inshallah it doesn't offend anyone. Salaam'alaikum,Amira


  3. >Assalaamu alaikum,Abu Abdullah – Jazak Allah khair for your dua.I think Tara made some great points. I think many new muslims go through a stage of sort of losing their identity, but many become comfortable with their new way of life and rediscover who they are. I admit that I found myself slipping away after moving to Saudi Arabia because of all of the cultural pressures to fit in with my in-laws. It's taken me a while, but I now feel so much more confident in who I am. I think even people who do not change their religion go through experiences in their lives that change them and may cause them to lose themselves for a while. Angel – Tara may have a post on her blog already, so I won't go into too many details. Basically, the husband needs to go to the Ministry of Interior and request permission to marry a foreigner. The process requires him to submit documents, go through a background check, an interview, etc. Unfortunately, the process varies between individuals based on their situation. Please let me know if you need more details, and I can let you know what we had to do.Amira – I agree with what you're saying. If you have a negative attitude then you won't be very happy and will feel that you are being oppressed. I think women who move to Saudi Arabia have to come here with an open mind and make the best of their life here. No place on earth is perfect. You can find positives and negatives to every place you live.


  4. >This is very interesting. I for many years found it easier to practice Islam in the US because there is freedom of religion, rather than in Saudi which is a patriarchal/tribal one. Eventually I found my way.There is a wide variance of how people live here. I, and many women talk to male salespeople whether buying or returning all the time. Most employees in the public are men.And definately women here are oppressed. Legally their status compels them to have a male guardian among other things. However, a good husband, a good situation can alleviate much of that. So yes, a woman can be happy here- if her "mahrem" allows it- and many men do.


  5. >UM yea it would be great if i could you could email me on the stuff that i need to know, please, i have looked everywhere and i have friends who have tried also and i think it has more to do with the fact we dont know what we are looking for.Let me know if you can and i will give you my email, thanks 🙂


  6. >Angel- You're welcome. Glad you were able to benefit from it. Masha'Allah Umm Riyam gavespectacular answers to the questionnaire. Regarding the marriage permission, if you look on the right-hand side of the blog you willfind the sidebar which has a number of posts grouped into specific categories. Insha'Allahyou can find the information you're looking for in the following categories… Wa alaikum salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh. I understood you and you didn't offend me. If a person always thinks negatively then they are setting themselves up to be miserable. You have to make the best of your situation whereever you are. As they say, when life hands you a bowl of lemons then make lemonade. Women in the Gulf DO have rights and the only right I can think of at the moment which has been taken away over here is women not being allowed to drive in KSA.Faraz- Our knowledge of Islam and its injunctions (Qur'an and Sunnah) can help define our character and carrying them out in our actions can better us. If we don't learn our religion and practice it they way we should then how can we expect to improve ourselves? Umm Riyam- Welcome! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to respond to the commentators.Sandy- Alhamdulillah you found your way. I so agree with your last statement.


  7. >Hi, can u tell me more about the process?.do we need to be married in another country first?…i have been searching on th net, but theres is a bit info. I appreciate your help!pty


  8. >Assalaamu alaikum,I guess what I meant is that when you're with your Saudi husband, he should do the talking and interacting with the male workers. I do talk to store clerks when I am shopping with my sister-in-laws or by myself. But, it's a big no-no for a Saudi man to let his wife do the talking, I think….Anonymous – It's actually better for the Saudi man if he seeks permission prior to marriage because he's actually breaking the law if he marries first without permission. Also, if he is a student on a scholarship or a company is paying for his schooling, then he can lose his scholarship or his job.


  9. >PTY- Welcome to FHWS and thank you for commenting. The Saudi must initiate the marriage permission process at the Ministry of Interior in Saudi Arabia. I suggest that he go there in person to apply and he will be guided further therein insha'Allah. If you have any other specific questions, feel free to ask them.Um AbdulKarim- Thank you for the kind compliment. Welcome back whenever you like 🙂


  10. >Salam, i have been a follower of your blog, i do like it a lot…it truly help those who have no idea about saudi marriages.Iam also a foreigner married to a saudi,i dont feel trapped and i do like the abaya,even the niqab.To be able to live comfortably here it is important to accept Islam wholeheartedly…it is also an important factor in marrying a Saudi.


  11. >Anonymous- Wa alaikum salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh. Welcome to FHWS and thank you for the nice compliments. I am glad that you don't feel trapped. I agree that being a Muslim is one of the factors which can help ease the life of a foreign woman married to a Saudi and living in KSA. If you'd like to participate in helping others learn more about Saudi/non-Saudi marriages, you can share your personal story (anonymously). Alternatively, you can copy the interview questions above and insert your own answers. Then email them to taraummomar at gmail dot com for review to post on FHWS. This invitation also extends to any other non-Saudis married to Saudis who happen to read this comment.Thank you!


  12. >Salamualaikum, i would love to answer those questions,but im still busy @ work, im a nurse in a Military hospital,thank you for the invitation, i will email you soon…Inshallah.


  13. >TWO NATIONALITIESThank you for writing about Saudi&nonSaudi marriages. I would like to know more, if someone knows about the use of a second nationality in marriage, for the Saudi law, when a Saudi man has two nationalities: 1. can he marry a 'nonSaudi woman' using the other 'nonSaudi' nationality, without breaking the law?2. will, eventually, both live married (as a foreign couple) in KSA, without breaking the law?Thank you so much for this blog and in advance for eventual answers! A smile for everyone


  14. >Anonymous with two nationalities- . Welcome to FHWS and thank you for commenting. Not trying to sound callous but its your life, your choice. There is no other way I can answer this for you except don't do anything you think is illegal…when in doubt, do without. And also these questions are obviously not something you'd ask a Saudi government official either. Hopefully another FHWS reader in your situation or who knows someone in your situation will reply. Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Best wishes to you and your fiance!


  15. >Tara thank You Very Much for your advise. In some Countries getting married gives you an instantaneous nationality. I thought it as a legal fact! Now I know that they cannot get the second nationality.Thank you again. No will to be wrong! For sure.


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