Saudi Government Graciously Approves Iqamahs Without Sponsors For Non-Saudi Women/Mothers (Italian Translation)

photocreditzazzleYesterday a Saudi photographer who goes by the name of Abu Leena-Rose of Sydney, Australia shared some good news with me by way of an article on Sabq (in Arabic). My husband thinks that the new changes will mostly benefit non-Saudi women/mothers who are either widows, divorced or have been abandoned as obviously they are devoid of sponsorship in order to provide them incentive to come to live in Saudi Arabia or remain living in Saudi Arabia. This makes sense if you consider what has been happening lately with non-Saudi women abroad allegedly conning AWASSIR of funds. I suspect the new changes could ensure that the government’s monetary assistance is being allocated to non-Saudi women/mothers residing in KSA who can then circulate it back into the Saudi economy rather than a foreign economy. It also means that they can easily track the funds, they know exactly who it is going to which lessens the chances of fraud. Additionally, I assume that it is more cost effective for the Saudi government to aid these families in Saudi Arabia than abroad, freeing up more funds to take care of other needy households. Another benefit of these new rights is that non-Saudi widows, divorcees and abandoned women will no longer have to fear deportation (see my reply to Jean Sasson’s comment at the end of this post). Concerning how it impacts non-Saudi wives of Saudis: 1) I initially thought that non-Saudi wives could work in government offices but my friend pointed out that on our iqamahs it says that we aren’t allowed to work. I guess the stories I heard of non-Saudi wives working in government positions were under the table aka illegal. Currently we will be permitted to have a government job that count towards Saudization 2) My friend said that non-Saudi wives could receive access to government hospitals on the condition of securing a wasta. But it has always been free for our Saudi children and now includes non-Saudi mothers 3) My husband claims that non-Saudi wives will be able to go to the Passport Office and apply for a new iqamah or renew an expired iqamah, even though the Saudi husband would still be the sponsor. They would probably request proof of marital status, such as a marriage certificate. Maybe some of the Saudi husbands will be delighted with this since they won’t have to deal with the Passport Office again hahaha. Please keep in mind that the new changes are not that clear and can be confusing. I keep having to update this foreword as new information or different interpretations come my way. Dear readers, what do you think about this recent announement? Tara Umm Omar

Foreign Mothers Of Saudi Children To Get Permanent Residency: Cabinet Extends Education And Health Privileges In Bid To Boost Family Stability
By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
Manama | Gulf News
10 September 2013

Non-Saudi mothers of Saudi children will be given permanent residence in Saudi Arabia without the need of a sponsor, the cabinet has said.

They will also be given the rights accorded to Saudi nationals in public and university education and in health services.

The decision announced by Abdul Aziz Khoja, the culture and information minister, following the weekly cabinet session on Monday, marks a breakthrough for non-Saudi women married to Saudi men who, despite their marriage and their Saudi children, continued to be treated as “full foreigners” who needed a sponsor to be able to live in Saudi Arabia and could not benefit from any privilege enjoyed by Saudi women.

Under the sponsorship system adopted by several countries in the Gulf, foreigners cannot live in the country or take up a job or switch jobs without the approval of their sponsor.

According to the official Saudi Press Agency, the recommendations to change the status of the foreign mothers of Saudi children had been submitted by the foreign minister Prince Saud Al Faisal based on “the lack of housing and living guarantees for Saudi children living abroad and their non-Saudi mothers upon returning to the kingdom.”

The decision is expected to encourage non-Saudi women married with Saudis to stay in the kingdom with their children.

“The state will pay the residence fees of the non-Saudi mothers,” the information minister said. “These mothers have the right to take up jobs in the private sector and will be considered part of Saudization process,” he said in reference to the scheme launched by the state to boost the number of Saudis employed by private companies.

The minister said that the cabinet cancelled a paragraph in a decision taken by the Saudi government more than 40 years ago and related to non-Saudi widows with Saudi children that stipulated that “they must have sponsors according to residence regulations.”

The cabinet also cancelled another paragraph of the same decision that stipulated that the “sponsor must pay for the non-Saudi mother’s living expenses if she is unable to find a job for legal considerations.”

Permanent Residency Relief For Foreign Wives Of Saudis
By P.K. Abdul Ghafour
Arab News | Jeddah
10 September 2013

Foreign mothers of Saudi children will be given permanent residence in the Kingdom without sponsors, the Council of Ministers said on Monday. They will also receive educational and health services like other Saudis.

The Cabinet, chaired by Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, made this important decision upon the recommendation of Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

The decision was aimed at encouraging non-Saudi wives of Saudis to stay in the Kingdom with their children. The Cabinet said that the state shall bear the woman’s residence fees.

“She shall be allowed to work for others in the private sector and she shall be considered part of Saudization process,” said Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja.

The Cabinet deleted Para 3 of the Cabinet’s decision No. 1215 dated 8/11/1392 regarding non-Saudi widows with Saudi children, which stipulates that her son “be her sponsor according to Iqama regulations.”

It also deleted Para 5 of the same decision, which states that “the sponsor undertakes paying living expenses if she cannot keep a job due to legal objection.” The non-Saudi mother of Saudi children shall be treated as a Saudi national in terms of general and university education, as well as medical treatment in government hospitals, the Cabinet said.

Saudis and expatriates have applauded the decision, saying it would solve problems facing many Saudi families.

“This decision should have been taken a long time ago,” said Mohammed Badahdah, assistant secretary-general of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

“A foreign mother of Saudi children should acquire permanent residency by default in order to bring peace of mind and stability to the family,” he told Arab News.“ It is the right of the mother to stay with her children.”

Badahdah said that granting citizenship to these women should be decided by higher authorities, adding that Saudi Arabia has temporarily stopped giving citizenship to foreigners. “They used to consider applications of people who have gained the required points in terms of stay, education and family relations with Saudis,” he said.

Abdullah Bajubair thanked the government for the humane decision. He requested the king to consider granting citizenship to those who are born and brought up in the Kingdom and have lived in the country for several years.

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Non-Saudi Mothers Of Citizens Given Their Rights
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Saudis Welcome Decision To Give Foreign Mothers Of Saudi Children Permanent Residence Status
Foreign Mothers Of Saudis Hail Permanent Residency Decision

Photo Credit: Zazzle 


Madri Straniere Di Figli Sauditi Ottengono La Residenza Permanente: Il Gabinetto Estende I Servizi Educativi E Sanitari Come Offerta Per Incoraggiare La Stabilità Familiare
Di Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
Manama | Gulf News
10 Settembre 2013
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

Le madri non-saudite di figli sauditi riceveranno la residenza permanente in Arabia Saudita senza la necessità di uno sponsor, ha detto il Gabinetto.

Godranno anche dei diritti accordati ai cittadini sauditi nell’istruzione pubblica e universitaria e nei servizi sanitari.

La decisione annunciata da Abdul Aziz Khoja, ministro della cultura e dell’informazione dopo la riunione settimanale del Gabinetto lunedì, segna una svolta per le donne non-saudite sposate con sauditi le quali, nonostante il matrimonio e i figli sauditi, continuavano ad essere trattate come “straniere a tutti gli effetti” bisognose di uno sponsor per poter vivere in Arabia Saudita e non potevano godere di nessuno dei privilegi accordati alle donne saudite.

In base al sistema della sponsorizzazione adottata da parecchi paesi del Golfo, gli stranieri non possono né vivere nel paese né iniziare a lavorare né cambiare lavoro senza l’approvazione del loro sponsor.

Secondo la Saudi Press Agency, raccomandazioni per cambiare lo status delle madri straniere di figli sauditi erano state presentate dal ministro degli esteri principe Saud Al Faisal, sulla base “della mancanza di garanzie di alloggio e mantenimento per i figli sauditi che vivono all’estero e le loro madri non-saudite al loro ritorno nel Regno”.

Ci si aspetta che la decisione incoraggi le donne non-saudite sposate con sauditi a restare nel Regno con i loro figli.

“Lo stato si accollerà le tasse sulla residenza delle madri non-saudite”, ha detto il ministro dell’informazione. “Queste madri hanno il diritto di cominciare a lavorare nel settore privato e saranno considerate parte del processo di sauditizzazione”, ha detto riferendosi al progetto lanciato dallo stato per aumentare il numero di sauditi impiegati nelle compagnie private.

Il ministro ha detto che il Gabinetto ha cancellato un paragrafo in una decisione presa dal governo saudita oltre 40 anni fa e concernente le vedove non-saudite con figli sauditi, che stabiliva che “debbono avere uno sponsor in base alle regole sulla residenza”.

Il gabinetto ha cancellato anche un altro paragrafo della stessa decisione il quale stabiliva che “lo sponsor deve accollarsi le spese di mantenimento della madre non-saudita se costei non è in grado di trovare un lavoro per motivi legali”.

Il Sollievo Della Residenza Permanente Per Le Mogli Straniere Di Sauditi
Di P.K. Abdul Ghafour
Arab News | Jeddah
10 Settembre 2013
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

Il Consiglio dei Ministri ha detto lunedì che le madri straniere di figli sauditi avranno il permesso di residenza permanente nel Regno senza necessità di uno sponsor. Godranno anche dei servizi educativi e sanitari come gli altri sauditi.

Il Gabinetto, presieduto dal principe ereditario Salman, vice premier e ministro della difesa, ha preso questa importante decisione sulla base di una raccomandazione del ministro degli esteri principe Saud Al-Faisal.

Le decisione mira ad incoraggiare le mogli non-saudite di sauditi a rimanere nel Regno con i loro figli. Il Gabinetto ha detto che lo stato si accollerà le tasse sulla residenza della donna.

“Avrà il permesso di lavorare con altri nel settore privato e sarà considerata parte del processo di sauditizzazione”, ha detto il ministro della cultura e dell’informazione Abdul Aziz Khoja.

Il Gabinetto ha cancellato il paragrafo 3 della decisione del Gabinetto n. 1215 datata 8/11/1392 concernente le vedove non-saudite con figli sauditi, la quale stabilisce che suo figlio “deve essere il suo sponsor in base ai regolamenti sull’iqama”.

Ha anche cancellato il paragrafo 5 della stessa decisione, che stabilisce che “lo sponsor si accolla il pagamento delle spese di mantenimento se lei non può conservare il lavoro a causa di un impedimento legale”. La madre non-saudita di figli sauditi verrà trattata come i cittadini sauditi per quanto concerne l’istruzione generale ed universitaria e le cure mediche negli ospedali pubblici, ha affermato il Gabinetto.

I sauditi e gli stranieri hanno approvato la decisione, dicendo che risolverà i problemi di molte famiglie saudite.

“Questa decisione avrebbe dovuto essere presa molto tempo fa”, ha detto Mohammed Badahdah, vice segretario generale dell’Assemblea Mondiale della Gioventù Musulmana.

“Una madre straniera di figli sauditi dovrebbe acquisire la residenza permanente per default per portare serenità mentale e stabilità nella famiglia”, ha detto ad Arab News. “E’ diritto della madre stare con i suoi figli”.

Badahdah ha detto che la concessione della cittadinanza a queste donne dovrebbe essere decisa dalle massime autorità, aggiungendo che l’Arabia Saudita ha temporaneamente smesso di concedere la cittadinanza agli stranieri. “Prendevano in considerazione le domande presentate da persone che avevano raggiunto il punteggio richiesto per quanto concerne la permanenza, l’istruzione e i legami familiari con sauditi”, ha detto.

Abdullah Bajubair ha ringraziato il governo per la decisione umana. Ha chiesto al re di prendere in considerazione la concessione della cittadinanza a coloro che sono nati e crescuti nel Regno e che vivono nel paese da parecchi anni.


Published by

Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

12 thoughts on “Saudi Government Graciously Approves Iqamahs Without Sponsors For Non-Saudi Women/Mothers (Italian Translation)”

  1. Dear Tara Umm Omar, I have been jumping up and down with glee over this announcement. Thanks to your post, I understand the implications more fully. I do have a question: Does this mean that for those poor women whose Saudi husbands no longer allow their wives to return to the kingdom, yet will not allow their wives, or in some cases, ex-wives, have visitation with their children, will now be foiled? Some of the most tragic stories of the kingdom (at least for me) have been the women who have been divorced, sent out of the kingdom on orders of their ex-husbands, and forbidden to see their children. Does this mean that those women can now still live in the kingdom and have joint custody of their children? Or, will divorced non-Saudi mothers NOT benefit from this ruling? I have about four foreign women married to Saudis, currently writing to me and asking exactly what this ruling implies if their husbands divorce them and try to keep the young children from them. Do you know? Thanks, again, for all your wonderful and enlightening posts…


    1. At first I was confused but once my husband pointed out the benefits, I understood more clearly. There still needs to be a little more explication from the government or maybe some information is getting lost in translation from Arabic to English by reporters. I think that the government can override an ex-husband’s request to prevent visitation and grant a non-Saudi woman and her children entry visas. Once they arrive in Saudi Arabia, she can go to the passport office and apply for the iqamah herself without a sponsor which in the past would have been her husband or an employer. As for joint custody, I am not familiar with it but I would think that since the mother can stay in the kingdom indefinitely, she can hire a lawyer to help with her custody case and attend court proceedings. It is up to the judge to decide. The articles did not mention divorced women but my husband assumes that it includes them if they are the mothers of Saudi children. If the husband divorces the wife and tries to keep the children, insha’Allah I hope that she can go to the Passport Office and apply for an iqamah to stay and fight for custody of her children. So I guess one extra benefit is that the mother would not fear her husband deporting her.


    1. Not that I know of. It is more of a joint agreement between the parents. The children can live with the mother as long as she doesn’t remarry and visit the father if that is their arrangement. If the mother marries again, the children would go to the father at age 7 if I remember correctly.


      1. Actually in Islamic teachings (not the Saudi law) the mother has custody right of her children until she remarries. If she is married then her right equals the father’s right and the judge should give custody to the parent who would provide a better life to the children that is if the children are under 7 years old. Children at the age of 7 get to choose with whom they want to live.
        Unfortunately Saudi Arabia goes my tribal law and gives custody to the father in most cases.


        1. She was asking about the ruling on “joint” custody in Islam. The judges in non-Muslim countries award full custody to either the mother OR the father OR give them joint custody which means the child goes to live with the mother and father in separate households, maybe 6 months in each or spends a summer (usually 3 months) with the father and the school year with the mother (for example).


    2. Thanks for taking the time to explain further. I am so happy about this as I believe it will help mothers & children & even fathers, who really need their children to have both parents in their lives. There’s been a lot of sad stories in the past because there was no protection for foreign mothers of Saudi children. In fact, I have a friend whose daughter was stolen from her in the USA (by her ex-husband and the father). The child was so young and had never lived with the father. He quickly returned to Saudi Arabia with the little girl and refused to allow the mother to see or to talk to her child. It was horrifying (The princess asked me to write about this case in one of the books about Princess Sultana’s life.) I did, and the father became furious and was very vindictive. This man was not ignorant — he was college educated, but he was MEAN and never gave a thought to the wellbeing of his daughter, who needed her mother, and father –While the foreign mother had graciously allowed him to see his daughter when they were living in the states, at his second visit, he immediately grabbed the child and fled the country! Years later the mother finally got the Saudi Ambassador to help her to see the child. She went to Saudi a few times and did her best. It was heart-breaking. The daughter’s spirit was totally broken. She was veiling at a much earlier age than Islam requires. She hid from her mother when her mother tried to talk to her (behind chairs and sofa’s) etc… The father was threatening her every time she tried to see her child. It finally became too much. The little girl was frightened of her loving mother, whose life had been ruined, along with her child’s life. This kind of MEAN SPIRITED behavior is what I am hoping this ruling will stop. This should not have happened. Yet, it happens to a lot of foreign mothers. I have never understood ANY parent who intentionally cuts the connection from their child to the other parent. It hurts the child more than it hurts anyone, although I have met mothers who had their children stolen and taken back into Saudi Arabia who were in such pain they could not speak. Once I heard the voice recording of a young 3 yr old boy who was stolen from his American mother and taken to Saudi and he was hysterical over the phone, weeping and begging his mother to come and get him. He was totally terrified and devastated! Did the father care? Not at all. We could hear him laughing in the background as his child screamed for his mother. Then he got on the phone and told the wife that he hoped she enjoyed the call, because she would never speak to her son again. The last thing heard was that baby crying for his mother. The father remarried and his new wife, the stepmother, hated the little boy and seriously abused him. This is discovered some years later. That child lived a life of terror and horror — the father didn’t love him, he only loved himself. Although I have found many nice Saudi men in my life, men who loved their children and wanted them to be happy, sadly, I have known of so many cases where the father didn’t really want the children, but only wanted to hurt the ex-wife, and in the process, destroyed his child’s life. How can ANY parent think this is a good idea??? That’s why I am so thankful to the Saudi government for passing this new ruling as I believe it will stop some of the worse abuses. It’s too late for so many lives destroyed, but perhaps it will keep other children safe, and other mothers from having to worry about the wellbeing of their children. All mothers I have known have the well-being of their children first and foremost in their minds. Sadly, many men care more for themselves than for their children’s happiness. Sorry, for venting. I have held this inside me for years and now I see a ray of hope.


      1. What an awful cretin to have tortured his child and ex-wife like that! Some people should NOT be allowed to procreate. Unfortunately I don’t think this new change will reflect on the fact that the judges enable these men to get away with such despicable actions. As Maya has brought up, custody rights are frequently awarded to the fathers since this is a tribal society however contrary to Islam it is. Saudi men know they have this unfair advantage over non-Saudi mothers and abuse it because they also know that they will not be held accountable. Can you imagine living in the same country as your children where they are near but out of reach? I suppose it is a lot better than living in a foreign country away from them and locked out of Saudi Arabia. As soon as the kidnapping and custody fights between non-Saudis and Saudis is addressed, the non-Saudi mother will not only live indefinitely in this country but with FAIRNESS and without FEAR in regards to her children being taken away.


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