How Saudi Women Can Perceive Foreign Women Who Marry Saudis

By American Bedu
14 August 2010

I am writing this post based from what I have seen and also what I have heard from foreign women who have married Saudis or from Saudi woman who shared some perspectives. The reason I have chosen to write on this particular topic, the Saudi woman’s perspective of a foreign woman who has married a Saudi, is due to the number of foreign women who are actively in relationships with a Saudi man.

The foreign woman has a general understanding that a Saudi man’s family is of great importance to him. However, he may choose to marry his foreign wife before breaking the news to his family. Many foreign women who are in a relationship with a Saudi are full of confidence that they can, and will, win over his Saudi family. I hope for the relationship’s sake, they are right.

The majority of foreign women will meet and fall in love with their Saudi when he is outside of the Kingdom. I can speak with authority that a Saudi man can be among the most charming of individuals whom one cannot help but love with all the heart. (warm smile) Yet that does not in turn constitute his family will feel the same way when he tells them that he has fallen in love and married a foreign woman.

His mother and sisters may feel that they have been robbed and cheated of identifying a good Saudi wife for him. After all, there are many single Saudi women and some of them will be among the close friends or perhaps relatives of his mother and sister. Why did he have to go and choose a foreigner?

Some Saudi women may view the foreign wife as an interloper. They will wonder how their male relative met her exactly and got to know her well enough that he married without their knowledge. Or they may ask why did he feel he had to marry her without her knowledge? Was there a scandal? Is her family not respectable? The foreign wife may be perceived as a threat.

Bear in mind these may be some of the thoughts but it is very unlikely they would be voiced aloud to either their male relative or his foreign bride. The foreign bride would likely be shown kindness and politeness, with or without genuine warmth. Yet never doubt for a moment that each move and action the foreign bride takes will be watched, noted and discussed. There will be interest in how she dresses, how she talks, what she can or cannot do. There will be curiosity towards how much she seems to understand Saudi customs and culture.

Does she speak Arabic? Is she respectful to the family members and especially the elders? These issues will be the topic of many conversations and discussions.

Some foreign women have made the transition from a ‘foreign spouse’ to a welcomed and loved family member. Many more have not. Much of the success on acceptance of the foreign wife in Saudi Arabia by female members of the family and others in the family depends on the level of acceptance from the Saudi Mother-in-Law.

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Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.