A Saudi Student Love Story And Heartache In Progress

Heartache By IGzIz

By American Bedu
13 January 2011

A student and I have been dialoguing on the challenges and pitfalls of falling in love with a Saudi student. Falling in love with a Saudi can be very intense with strong emotions arising quickly between each other. The Saudi student in love can make his beloved feel like the most Royal Princess. He will have immaculate manners, be eloquent with words and very caring and protective of her. He will endear himself to her and steal her heart with his words of love and revelation of his high family values. Yet there can and is most often another side to the story. The Saudi student will believe the words of love and promises he has said but when it comes down to the line in the sand, he will likely adhere to his family wishes even if it means marrying another or giving up his “first true love.” I can write post after post on this topic but no words can hit harder than those from a student who realizes that she has to let her Saudi go. In spite of the wishes and dreams, they will not have a future together.

Dear Carol,

For the past half year I have been faithfully following your blog in hopes of broadening my world view. I have deeply enjoyed your various opinions, interviews and personal touches. I read the debates that follow each post, had come to form a view of Saudi culture of my own.

Time and time again, I had been hit with the warning of Saudi students and relationships. And, as fate would have it- I find myself in the exact predicament you and your commenters and described countless times.

My Saudi has only been in Canada for less than a year, and is currently in English school. Until now, our relationship has been wonderful.

I have met and became friends with his cousins who are also here to study- I have spent consecutive days with them over the holidays, have shared meals, gone out and have been well received by all of them.

I had read that most Saudi students keep their foreign girlfriends a secret from their immediate families; I questioned him and found that this was the case for me as well.

It bothered me that he couldn’t let his family know of us, as our actions are considered sinful. When I asked him about this, he was deeply conflicted. When I ask him what he feels, his responses often start with “My Religions/Culture says…”

We discussed our future together, planning our university years (I am to graduate my second degree in 2 years) and playing with the idea of me living in the middle east (I was already considering this prior meeting him, and had a personal goal of living overseas for many years). We share so many of the same beliefs, philosophies and views. I was really beginning to think that this could be long-term. I began to believe that eventually he would be able to tell his family about me- after-all, he always says, “we are all Gods children, one and the same, no matter nationality or faith”.

It was not until now that the culture gap became so obvious though.

He has now been told he is to marry his cousin come the summer when he returns home for a month.

I am crushed, but he is utterly devastated. Though little can be done, he says he will try to not marry and stay with me. I do not want to be the cause for any disruption in his family life (I know how important family is to him) but a part of me wants to hold on to that hope.

The warning signs were there all along- I read of them, and told myself we wouldn’t be another case of Saudi Student Heartbreak. I didn’t believe we’d have to rely on the Love Conquers all mindset, because there wasn’t a problem. We were two young people in love.

But now, we’re being thrown through hurdle after hurdle, trying to stay happy, but knowing the likely reality.
I am so confused by this- The religion says that we are all equals. But his family (who are also of strong faith) will only accept a Muslim Saudi wife for their son. Doesn’t that contradict their religion?

I hear so much of the hardships of Saudi women being thrown into the throngs of arranged marriage, but almost nothing of the males. He does not want to marry a stranger- and has expressed (before this news was delivered) that he believes that one should always marry for love, and if the love is gone, it is better to separate and continue to respect the person (especially if they are a parent of your child).

I wish for my Saudi to follow his heart and be happy. Whether or not that is with me is up to him. I don’t want to be the cause for any strain in his family life.

There are a lot of family politics I don’t understand in the Saudi culture. But I do understand this- Saudi students have a mind of their own. When they come to new countries, they will do and act differently than they would at home. But their hearts are the same. They hold on to their beliefs, and many express guilt in challenging their religion and culture. They are exploring themselves in a way they might not have been able to do before. It’s confusing for them. It’s a lifetime of beliefs being questioned daily.

At the least, I hope my Saudi can use his experience with me as a stepping stone in his life.

I would like to express my deepest thanks for accurately reflecting this situation in your posts.

I knew what to expect, and what is likely coming our way. I draw inspiration from your posts, and hope that, god willing, love will find a way.

Yes, if he is to marry, he will be returning to Canada. He is already registered to study at the same University and program as I (this was arranged prior our meeting). His wife will join him here in Canada.

At our young age, we both have a lot to learn from this. I really did not believe arranged marriages were alive and well, never mind it happening in my own life. I will not interfere with him and his new wife if that is what to be. Until our end I will continue to encourage him to follow his heart and be true to himself, whatever that means to him.

I don’t want to discourage those looking for Love to avoid Saudis, but instead to provide enough surrounding information that if they so chose to a courtship with someone from the Kingdom, that they are aware and prepared to accept the consequences of culture.

I have been equipped with knowledge, and am experiencing the clash first-hand. It hurts, but we are determined to cherish what little time we have left. He tells me day after day that he will find a way to be with me… I truly believe that this is far harder for him, as I am the first woman he has ever been with.

Knowing that I am the first, and that with me we shared a bond, I promised to stay by my Saudi until he could be with me no longer.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my love in a time of hardship.

I will continue to follow your blog, and believe in Love.

Photo Credit: Deviant Art


Published by

Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

2 thoughts on “A Saudi Student Love Story And Heartache In Progress”

  1. >Oh my goodness. Your story literally brought tears to my eyes. I completely understand how you must be feeling and I deeply sympathize with you. Even though my husband defied culture and family and married me it is not without conflict and serious hardships with family and government alike. Rest assured that your eyes are wide open and that is really the best thing you could do to protect yourself. If your relationship didn't end, there would be a pretty much guaranteed rocky road ahead of you that, while I don't regret going down myself, I do wish things were different and just FOR ONCE easy on my and my husband. I wish you the best in the future inshallah. You're obviously a smart girl so good things likely lie in your future.


  2. >In a way be happy that you don't marry him. Women, at least non-Saudi women, do not have rights to custody in the Kingdom. If you were to marry and later divorce him, the Saudi children would be given to their father. You would not be allowed to take them out of the country or get custody of them.


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