Saudi Woman Wants To Marry A Non-Saudi

779ca28e624dd5036b0f6a7067006db6Anyone interested is advised to review the new rules for marriage between a Saudi woman and non-Saudi man to make sure they qualify for permission. Contact me by email for further details: taraummomar at hotmail dot com. Please feel free to share this with others. Thank you and best wishes!

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I believe no one will know what I’m looking for in a husband better than me. So, I’m posting this with the help and encouragement of my friend Tara Umm Omar.

Age: 38

Marital status: divorced

Children: none (would like children insha’Allah)

Education: Master’s Degree

About me:

I’m a well-educated Saudi girl, open-minded, optimistic and a happy person. I’m adventurous by nature and I like a simple life. Alhamdulillah I’m someone who enjoys life to the fullest, within Islamic limits, of course. I respect my religion, alhamdulillah, and do my best to be a good Muslimah. Actually, I did turn down many offers because I’m not looking to get married just for the sake of being married. If I don’t find a good match, I prefer to stay single. For me, marriage is an interesting journey that ends up in paradise insha’Allah. My main concern is that the one who I get married to is someone compatible with me, mature, honest and a good Muslim with good manners. Most importantly, I’m not for polygamy.

Just for clarification:

I want to marry for the deen and not for culture. Please don’t get me wrong, I do respect and appreciate Saudi and Arab men in general. But I believe my mentality and the way I see life and marriage doesn’t go well with them. There would be clashes and Allah knows best. Moreover, each person in this life has the right to look for what suits him best.

What I’m looking for:

I’d like to marry a Muslim man, preferably an American or Canadian who currently resides in Saudi Arabia. Someone who cares very much about Islam, prays his 5 prayers and maintains his life based on Qur’an and Sunnah. I want a mature honest man whom I can depend on after Allah Almighty. He is open-minded, respects women and knows how to deal with his wife. He has a sense of humor and knows how to enjoy life. Regarding his age, I am open to marrying someone younger than me as long as he is responsible, mature and a real man. But not older than 40 years (I can explain more later). Please no smokers.

My expectations:

I’m a real woman for a real man insha’Allah. A real man seeks a best friend and a partner, not a maid. He doesn’t need her to cook and clean after him because he is independent. Should something happen to his wife, he is able to do anything by himself because he is no mama’s boy. He doesn’t stop his woman from pursuing her dreams. He doesn’t set goals for her such as being only a housewife. He supports her in everything and is not afraid of her intellect, dignity, self-confidence and independence. He looks for an independent woman because he knows should anything happen to him, everything will be fine because his woman is able to deal with anything on her own. He is not afraid to ask her for her opinion, appreciates and listens to good discussions. He does not have an attitude that “I’m always right”, regardless of the subject. He is ready and able to consider every situation from many different angles and make a good decision. He is not shy to roll up his sleeves and wash the dishes, make dinner or do the vacuuming. He is not afraid or too lazy to do anything around the house that should be done not because he is “helping out” his wife but because he lives in the same house with his wife. He is smart enough to know how to communicate with his wife, to sense a problem before it happens and to kindly resolve any misunderstanding that happens for whatever reason. Also, he is aware of and cares about his wife’s intimate needs and does his best to keep her satisfied. He never says anything negative about his wife, not to his friends, family, neighbors or anyone. If he has any complaints, he explains to his wife in a kind way so she completely understands his viewpoint. If he is reasonable and his views are convincing then she is reasonable enough to accept and do her best to make amends.

A real woman does not need a man because she needs money, she has her own passion and makes her own money. She doesn’t need money, jewelry, expensive clothes, cars or make-up to feel that her man appreciates and values her. She needs a man and partner but most importantly, a best friend who will consider her opinion as important as his and who understands her dreams and fears. She is ready to do anything to make her man happy, be it making some popcorn for him at midnight or running with him 10 laps around the area. She respects him in every aspect and would never humiliate him when alone or in front of other people (especially the latter). She is aware that respect is the most important thing in their relationship. She knows she should show appreciation for his patience and understanding of the things he does to make her happy. She knows that the best way to reward his initiative and actions, etc., is by stating her appreciation loudly and clearly. Any time there is a misunderstanding, she kindly and patiently explains the problem, its cause and effect and suggests possible solutions.

Real men and real women know that a conflict is pointless when they don’t learn a lesson from it. Every time a conflict arises, they will realize their mistakes and make sure that they will not repeat the same mistake. They know that being angry for stupid, little things without valid reasons, poisons the relationship and so they avoid that at all cost. They know that, at the end of the day, no matter how hard or long it may be, they are to hug each other before falling asleep. When criticizing each other, they both know they should do it only in private, in the most kind and open way, making sure to gather the right arguments and presenting them clearly and eloquently. And absolutely not in the moment they meet first time after a long day at work, after some stressful event or long trip, etc.

They are aware that this life is short and they don’t know how long they will stay together as only Allah, subhanAllahu wa ta’ala, knows how many days each person has on this earth. So they appreciate every moment together, making them great moments and some time later, great memories.

No one is perfect and I’m not trying to idealize myself but, ahamdulillah, I’m confident that I can make a good wife and expect the same from my future partner insha’Allah.

Photo Credit: Yahoo! News

“Expired” Saudi Women Are Increasingly Gravitating Towards Marrying Non-Saudi Men

photocreditfineartamericaWith Relationships, We Find Happiness In Our Own Way
By Rym Ghazal
The National – Opinion
20 July 2016

“I just got so tired of Arab men and their games.”

This month, a Saudi friend announced that she is marrying an American man. She is one of seven friends who, over the past two years, have found love and the man of their dreams outside their community and culture.

She is the third to marry an American. Two others married Italians, one married a French man and the other married a Canadian.

While we shouldn’t really be making a big deal of nationalities, what is interesting is that all of these women were in their thirties and had been marked “expired” by their families. And, quite openly and rudely, they were told by some Arab men they had met that they were too old to be valued as a potential wife.

Of course, it is more complicated than simple matters of age and backgrounds, and we probably shouldn’t generalise – there are many, many happy marriages between Arabs – but there is something here to explore.

By no means can we say that this is something new, given that older female members of my own family have married European men. At the same time, there are no proper statistics on this for us to be able to make sweeping statements such as “more and more Arab women are marrying non-Arabs”.

The high-profile marriage of Lebanese lawyer Amal Alamuddin to the American actor George Clooney in 2014 brought some of these discussions to light. At the time, she was in her thirties, quite independent and strong – and these were given as reasons why Clooney appreciated her.

Taking a step back, I have heard over and over again that women who have worked hard and are pioneers in their own rights have difficulty finding partners who appreciate them as they are.

“I feel I am constantly being assessed if I am worthy of becoming his wife,” said a friend who ended up marrying an Italian man.

“My husband loves me as I am. And those things my Arab ex didn’t like or took for granted, my husband loves and appreciates,” she says.

She, like my other friends who married foreigners, said that she felt she could be herself around her husband.

What is interesting is that I have also heard this from Arab men who married foreigners. They even admit they treat the foreign women better than they did their Arab exes. Why do that? Why do we put on masks and act out roles when we are around someone from our own nationality or background?

Arab men have been marrying women from different backgrounds for centuries, but Arab women have generally stayed within their own circles. The few rebellious ones who married outside their culture had to make great sacrifices.

I am all for mixing nationalities, because I come from a mixed background. I find that embracing differences and loving someone for their hearts and who they are is more important than how they “should be” or how they are on paper. But each to their own; people find happiness in their own special way.

Last week I addressed the issue of “uqdet el khawaja” (the foreigner complex), referring to how some Arabs appear to prefer to work with and buy from foreigners rather than from their own people. While many hate to admit it exists, it even makes an appearance when we are looking for partners.

It should not come as a surprise, given this phenomenon, that some Arabs seek to marry outside of the culture.

These are sensitive issues and difficult to discuss without ruffling feathers. Whatever the case, it is not only Arabs who think that certain marriages can change their lives for the better. Ultimately, it is really all in our heads and only we can start to change that.

rghazal@thenational.ae

Twitter:@Arabianmau

Photo Credit: Fine Art America

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Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi’s Response To Julieta

photocreditalriyadhFalling In Love With Saudi Students Abroad!
By Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi
Saudi Gazette
14 July 2014

Julieta is a South American girl living in USA, who fell in love with a Saudi student. She is in trouble, now. Here’s how she tells her story, in an email she sent in response to my last article “Respect girls’ marriage rights.”

She writes: “Before I read your article, I thought I wont find any man, in Saudi, who think as you do, so I am glad that I did, and hope and pray that more believers in women rights are out there!

“I found that everything was against me when I decided to look for a way to marry a Saudi man! I haven’t find the way, yet, but haven’t given up, and am still looking for some other ways.

“It is so hard, and I don’t know why, since the holy Qur’an said that a man is allowed to marry a Jew or a Christian. I still don’t understand why your laws, in the Land of Islam, are not following these commands!

“When you send out your young men and women abroad to study, you should know that love, like any natural event, could happen. You should also know that you are taking many risks sending people out to experience other realities that most Saudis don’t know, then not prepare to absorb the new ideas, experiences—and persons—they may bring back with them.

“Knowing, dealing with and befriending other people is part of life and living in any place and time. Then may come love —the natural attraction between a man and a woman. And when they get deep into it, and start thinking about future, they naturally think of commitment and lasting relations — marriage.

“Young people don’t know much about the real world. They believe love open all doors, love is both the road and the goal. Then they find out about realities. They find it is not just their decision to live their life. Families have a say. Societies have a say. Governments have a say. Their own choice and decision are the least important in this mess.

“Fine!, they say. We will follow procedures. We won’t break the law. What is it you want us to do? Permissions? No problem, just tell us what to do?

But as you would soon discover, they are making the rules not to allow you to get a permission, but to show you why you can’t!!

“I am trying to be in the other side’s shoes, to think like a lawmaker. I came up with some explanations. Maybe your government is concerned about the after-marriage cultural shock; about the language barrier; about living in a different environment that may not suit my life style — the one I used to all my life.

“So I started learning Arabic. I read the Qur’an in Spanish. I explored Islam. Now, I know what a wife and a mother supposed to be like in Islam, and I love it. I really want to be a good wife and mother to my future husband and children. I enjoy the way I feel after reading the Qur’an. I am not a Muslim, yet, but I am close to be. Certainly, before I get married, I will be.

“Still, the rules don’t favor me. Muslim or not, speaking Arabic or not, accepting and even liking the Saudi culture or not, I am still forbidden to marry the man I love!!

“I am so disappointed because I didn’t know all these, before I fell in love. I don’t have “wasta,” and he doesn’t. I can’t be Saudi, even though I love to be, and he can’t be but a Saudi. Such is life!

“Sorry to bother you with my sad, sad story, but I just felt like I need to share it with you! My name is Julieta by the way and I am in love with a Saudi Romeo. Salam.”

I thanked her for sharing her story with us, dear readers. But what I am supposed to say or do? How can I help? What would you say to Julieta or suggest we do? Here’s some of your comments on my last article.

Strange in Canada!

“This sounds very strange here. I live in Canada, where there is complete freedom of choice, thought, and expression!” Dr. Hasan Moolla

A pity!

“Its such a pity that a Muslim yet father could force his daughter to do something against her wish. I have gone through the same experience of the girl in your article. In fact it was even worse, because I was not only emotionally but also physically assaulted by my parent to accept a husband of his choice.

I have survived the trauma and am now on good terms with my family. So my advice to all girls: Make a decision and take a stand. After a while, society will accept your decision. After all, its your life and you have to live it the way you wish.

– Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi can be contacted at kbatarfi@gmail.com and followed at Twitter: @kbatarfi

Photo Credit: AlRiyadh

AWASSIR Sponsors 7,000 Living In 30 Countries

photocreditarabnewsWarning Saudi men not to get involved with marriage brokers because of the increasing number of abandoned children??? Who is abandoning the children…the marriage brokers or the Saudi men?! Maybe it should be the other way around…marriage brokers should avoid Saudi men unless they provide proof that he has permission from the government to marry.

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Awasser Sponsors 7,000 Abandoned Saudi Families
By Abdul Hannan Tago
Arab News | Riyadh
6 July 2014

The Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad, or Awasser, disclosed here recently that it sponsors 7,000 families of Saudi nationals living in 30 countries. The Saudi heads of these families abandoned them in countries such as the United States, Canada, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

The welfare organization, which is licensed and supervised by the Ministry of Interior (MoI), recently warned Saudis traveling abroad to avoid engaging with marriage brokers in the countries they visit, which results in the increasing number of abandoned children who eventually face social and identity crises.

Awasser, the first and only Saudi charitable organization authorized to discover and retrieve children born of Saudi men visiting the foreign countries, has compiled a full data of these children that allows them to provide assistance.

In a previous interview with Arab News, Awasser Chairman Tawfiq Al-Swailem said his organization provides all formalities and legal assistance free of charge to the abandoned Saudi families living abroad.

According to him, the number of families they are able to assist is growing by the day owing to modern technology via social networking communication which enables quick processing of their papers at the rate of one day in many cases.

Al-Swailem also advised Saudi travelers to be cautious and avoid marriage brokers abroad, citing the need to take the advice of those who have been in similar situations and consult with the Saudi embassies in those countries before taking matters further.

He said: “Unfortunately the majority of Saudis who have married abroad did not get prior approval from the Saudi authorities in those countries and are ignorant of the negative outcomes of such alliances which produce children who do not know their father. Often, the Saudi father comes back to his country leaving behind his wife and children without any income to support them.”

Al-Swailem noted: “The cost of these marriages looks cheap at the beginning but this is not the case.” He added that many of these marriages are doomed to fail because of the difference in the customs, traditions and ways of life with the children ending up as the losers.

Commenting on the modus operandi of the marriage brokers, Al-Swailem said: “Some unscrupulous people in foreign countries meet Saudi holiday makers at the airport and tempt them to marry native girls for financial gains.”

He said that Saudi men who decide to marry abroad do not take into account the differences in the customs and traditions which make it difficult for the woman to adjust and integrate into the Saudi way of life which affects the children adversely.

He suggested that marriages in the Kingdom should be made simpler by reducing the exorbitant dowry often demanded by the bride’s parents and conducting the ceremonies at home instead of the more expensive marriage halls.

Secondly, marriage laws in the Kingdom should be amended to include a marriage provision allowing a Saudi national to marry abroad for health and social reasons.

Photo Credit: Arab News

Two Examples Of The Brain Drain Happening To Saudi Arabia (Italian Translation)

photocreditethiopianglobalinitiativeThe FHWS Newsletter for 7-25 April 2013 has been sent out. Instructions for how to sign up to receive the newsletter is located here.

Disclaimer: I do not necessarily endorse some of the views in this article. Not all of the mutaween are as radical as Sarah portrays them. A minority of them have reflected negatively on the good reputation and well-intentioned efforts of the others. Any Muslim will be judged based upon their understanding of Islam and their actions. Blaming the distorted understanding of Islam on “conservatives” does no good but returning evil with good does. 

“The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel [the evil] with one which is better [i.e. Allâh ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly], then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, [will become] as though he was a close friend.” (Please read the tafsir of Surah Fussilat 41:34)

May Allah guide us all ameen.

Regarding women riding bikes, the latest news is that it wasn’t banned nor was it allowed. In any case, I’ve heard that women have been seen riding bikes in the Diplomatic Quarter (DQ) of Riyadh. 

Tara Umm Omar

Saudis Living Abroad Explain Why They Stay Away
By Hajer Naili
WeNews | New York
23 April 2013

On April 14 Saudi Prince Al Waleed Bin Sultan, the progressive nephew of King Abdullah, made world news by arguing on behalf of the campaign to permit women to drive cars inside the kingdom.

“(The question of) women driving will result in dispensing with at least 500,000 foreign drivers, and that has an economic and social impact for the country,” the prince said on Twitter.

Two days later, the online Saudi English-language daily newspaper Arab News reported that a female reporter had chipped away at the country’s gender-apartheid barrier. She was allowed to cover for the first time sessions of the Shura Council, which since 1927 has advised the king on important matters. Hayat Al-Ghamdi, a reporter from the regional Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat, was granted permission after she said her paper made persistent requests for approval.

But this and other bits of news don’t change the relatively recent cultural practices that make Saudi Arabia one of the world’s most restrictive nations for women and have driven some Saudi women to seek a life abroad. In recent interviews two such women talked about why they don’t consider returning to their homeland.

Sarah–whose last name is not disclosed for safety reasons–left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia more than six years ago. Without a word to her family she flew to New York to join the African-American man she loved. Now she is married to him, has two children and lives in Doha, Qatar.

She hasn’t ever gone back.

If she does, she said she could be arrested and thrown in jail for defying the ultra-conservative monarchy’s restrictions on female autonomy. Her transgressions: not telling her father that she was leaving the country and marrying without her family’s consent.

“My father didn’t speak to me for three years initially because he, of course, was extremely upset,” she said in a recent Skype interview.

By now her mother’s side of the family–non-Muslim Iranian-Indians–know she is married. But her father’s side of the family is still in the dark. “They still think that I am living in New York, doing a Ph.D.”

That’s why she doesn’t want to be identified. If case her family secret gets out, she might also face retaliation from Saudi authorities if she ever returned to visit her family.

Marriage and Travel Penalties

Sarah’s story demonstrates the penalties a woman still faces for breaking Islamic laws that prevent her from marrying without her father’s approval and traveling without formal permission from her male guardian.

Last year the government introduced an electronic system able to track women and send automatic text messages to male guardians if a woman tries to leave the country.

Sarah said she was arrested three times by the Mutaween, the government-run religious police. Dressed in their traditional ankle-length “thobes”–loose, long-sleeved white cotton garments with long flowing scarves that are either white or red-and-white-checked–the Mutaween enforce the Saudi strict gender rules and are often reinforced by police escorts and “volunteers.”

She said they arrested her for “minor things,” such as not having her face covered or standing up to them in a shopping mall. She said she spent two nights in jail. When she was getting arrested she recalls that people around her–including women–sided with her arrestors. “They were screaming at me ‘cover your face’ or ‘listen to what they say, this is Islam.’ ”

The religious police, Sarah said, illustrate how a male-dominated theocracy has distorted Islam, which, in her view, supports women’s rights. “The religious police has played a brilliant role in destroying our understanding of Islam through altered conservative Islamic beliefs. As long as they have power and they are around, I strongly believe that we will not progress.”

Outward signs of progress, however, do keep making headlines.

‘The Women’s King’

In 2011 King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud granted women the right to vote and run in 2015 local elections, earning him the deep affection of women’s rights activists, some of whom call him “the women’s king” and regard him as the best king the country has ever had.

The king has promoted women’s rights in a variety of ways, including granting women scholarships to study abroad and opening the way for women to hold new high-level posts in government, including in the Saudi intelligence agency.

Last February, 30 Saudi women joined the formerly all-male Shura Council. In accordance with the widespread rules of gender segregation, they enter the council building through special gates and sit in seats reserved for women.

Women are also now free to ride bicycles, a leading Saudi newspaper reported April 1. Within several limits: head-to-toe coverings, male guardian accompaniment, only in restricted areas and for recreation, not transportation.

In the 1960s the late King Faisal established the first schools for girls over the opposition of social conservatives. Ever since, women in the oil-rich monarchy have been earning advanced degrees and but still suffer of a high 34 percent jobless rate, The Washington Post has reported.

Dana, a Saudi-American surgeon who lives in New York, was born in the United States and pursued her education in Canada before going back to Saudi Arabia to start her practice. She moved to New York a couple of years ago after deciding that she was not happy in the Saudi workplace.

She returns regularly for family visits and doesn’t actually mind the ban on female driving. “I see it as a privilege to have had somebody to drive you around,” she said.

The campaign to end the custom that bars women from driving is fueled by women who have limited incomes and resent spending money they can’t afford on male drivers, she says. In Dana’s case, the family can easily afford a driver so it doesn’t bother her.

What bothers an affluent woman such as her, she says, is the way women’s identities are defined by the male-dominated society.

“Women are not regarded as individuals who have their own right to think and also choose for themselves, their mind has to be attached to a man,” she said in an interview at a cafe in New York. “Either it is husband, father or a brother. This has to change.”

But Dana doubts this will change soon, even if Prince Salman, the former defense minister considered to be the favored candidate, succeeds the king.

“Things have to change from the people and not the rulers,” Dana said. “I used to believe that most women wanted their rights openly but it is not the case. The majority are very traditional, which is quite sad.”

Hajer Naili is a New York-based reporter for Women’s eNews. She has worked for several radio stations and publications in France and North Africa and specializes in Middle East and North Africa.

Photo Credit: Ethiopian Global Initiative

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Saudite Che Vivono All’estero Spiegano Perechè Se Ne Stanno Lontane
Di Hajer Naili
WeNews – New York
23 April 2013
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

Il 14 aprile il principe saudita Al Waleed Bin Sultan, il nipote progressista del re Abdullah, ha fatto notiza nel mondo esprimendosi a favore della campagna per permettere alle donne di guidare l’auto nel Regno.

“(La questione della) patente alle donne consentirà di fare a meno di almeno 500.000 autisti stranieri, e questo produrrà un impatto economico e sociale sul paese”, ha detto il principe su Twitter.

Due giorni dopo, il quotidiano online saudita in inglese Arab News ha riferito che una reporter donna aveva infranto la barriera di apartheid del paese legata al genere. Per la prima volta aveva avuto il permesso di coprire le sessioni del Consiglio della Shoura, che dal 1927 esprime al re il suo parere sulle questioni importanti. Hayat Al-Ghamdi, una reporter del quotidiano regionale in lingua araba Al-Hayat, ha ottenuto il permesso dopo aver detto che il suo pezzo aveva insistentemente chiesto l’approvazione.

Ma questa e altre brevi notizie non cambiano le pratiche culturali relativamente recenti che fanno dell’Arabia Saudita una delle nazioni più restrittive nei confronti delle donne e hanno indotto alcune donne saudite a farsi una vita all’estero. In recenti interviste due di queste donne hanno parlato delle ragioni per le quali non prendono in considerazione di ritornare nel loro paese.

Sarah – il cui nome non viene rivelato per ragioni di sicurezza – ha lasciato il Regno dell’Arabia Saudita più di sei anni fa. Senza dire una parola alla sua famiglia è volata a New York per ricongiungersi all’afro-americano che amava. Adesso è sposata con lui, ha due figli e vive a Doha, in Qatar.

Non è mai ritornata.

Se lo facesse, dice che potrebbe essere arrestata e sbattuta in galera per aver sfidato le restrizioni in materia di autonomia delle donne della monarchia ultraconservatrice. Le sue trasgressioni: non aver detto a suo padre che stava lasciando il paese, ed essersi sposata senza il consenso della famiglia.

“Mio padre all’inizio non mi ha parlato per tre anni perchè, ovviamente, era completamente sconvolto”, ha detto in una recente intervista via Skype.

Oramai il lato materno della famiglia – iraniani-indiani non musulmani – sa che lei è sposata. Ma il lato paterno della famiglia è ancora all’oscuro. “Pensano ancora che io sia a New York per fare il dottorato di ricerca”.

Ecco perchè non vuole essere riconosciuta. Se il segreto di famiglia viene fuori, lei potrebbe anche subire la ritorsione delle autorità saudite qualora andasse a trovare la sua famiglia.

Matrimonio e sanzioni di viaggio

La storia di Sarah dimostra le sanzioni che una donna ancora subisce quando infrange le leggi islamiche che le impediscono di sposarsi senza l’approvazione del padre e di viaggiare senza il permesso formale del suo tutore maschio.

L’anno scorso il governo ha introdotto un sistema elettronico in grado di rintracciare le donne e di mandare messaggi di testo automatici ai tutori maschi se una donna tenta di lasciare il paese.

Sarah ha raccontato di essere stata arrestata tre volte dai Mutaween, la polizia religiosa governativa. Vestiti con i loro “thobe” tradizionali lunghi fino alla caviglia – capi di abbigliamento di cotone bianco, larghi, a manica lunga, con lunghe sciarpe svolazzanti bianche o a scacchi rossi e bianchi – i Mutaween assicurano l’applicazione delle severe regole saudite per i due generi, e spesso hanno i rinforzi della polizia e di “volontari”.

Ha detto che l’hanno arrestata per “cose minori”, tipo non avere il volto coperto o opporre loro resistenza in un centro commerciale. Ha raccontato di aver trascorso due notti in prigione. Si ricorda che mentre la arrestavano la gente intorno a lei – donne incluse – stava dalla parte di quelli che la arrestavano. “Mi gridavano ‘copriti la faccia’ o ‘ascolta quello che dicono, questo è Islam’”.

La polizia religiosa, ha detto Sarah, dimostra come una teocrazia maschilista ha distorto l’Islam, che, secondo lei, appoggia i diritti delle donne. “La polizia religiosa ha giocato un ruolo eccellente nel distruggere la nostra comprensione dell’Islam attraverso credenze islamiche conservatrici alterate. Finchè hanno potere e sono in circolazione, credo fermamente che non progrediremo”.

Tuttavia, segnali esteriori di progresso continuano a fare notizia.

‘Il re delle donne’

Nel 2011 il re Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud ha concesso alle donne il diritto di votare e candidarsi nelle elezioni locali del 2015, guadagnandosi il profondo affetto degli/delle attivisti/e per i diritti delle donne, alcuni/e dei/delle quali lo chiamano “il re delle donne” e lo considerano il miglior re che il paese abbia mai avuto.

Il re ha promosso i diritti delle donne in vari modi, inclusa la concessione alle donne di borse di studio per studiare all’estero e l’apertura alle donne di nuovi posti di alto livello nel governo, inclusa l’agenzia di intelligence saudita.

Lo scorso febbraio, 30 donne saudite sono entrate nel consiglio della Shoura, precedentemente aperto solo agli uomni. In ossequio alle regole ampiamente applicate della segregazione dei sessi, le donne entrano nell’edificio del consiglio attraverso cancelli speciali e occupano i seggi riservati alle donne.

Adesso le donne, secondo quanto riferito l’1 aprile da uno dei principali quotidiani sauditi, sono anche libere di andare in bicicletta, con il rispetto di parecchi limiti: coperte da capo a piedi, accompagnate dal tutore maschio, solo all’interno di determinate aree e per divertimento, non come mezzo di trasporto.

Negli anni Sessanta il defunto re Faisal ha aperto le prime scuole per le ragazze, vincendo l’opposizione dei conservatori in ambito sociale. Da allora le donne nella monarchia ricca di petrolio raggiungono lauree di alto profilo, ma ancora sono colpite da un tasso di disoccupazione pari al 34%, secondo il Washington Post.

Dana, un chirurgo saudita-americano che vive a New York, è nata a New York ed ha studiato in Canada prima di tornare in Arabia Saudita per iniziare la sua attività professionale. Si è trasferita a New York un paio di anni fa dopo aver deciso che non era contenta del suo lavoro in Arabia Saudita.

Ritorna regolarmente a trovare la famiglia e di fatto non le crea problemi il divieto di guida alle donne. “Vedo come un privilegio avere qualcuno che ti scarrozza in giro”, dice.

Dice che la campagna per porre fine alla tradizione che vieta alle donne di guidare è alimentata da donne che hanno reddito limitato e sono scontente di spendere denaro, che non si possono permettere, per autisti maschi. Nel caso di Dana, la famiglia può agevolmente permettersi un autista, perciò non è un problema per lei.

Quello che disturba una donna benestante come lei, dice, è il modo in cui le identità delle donne vengono definite dalla società dominata dagli uomini.

Le donne non sono considerate individui con il loro diritto di pensare e anche scegliere da sole, la loro mente deve rimenare attaccata ad un uomo”, ha detto durante un’intervista in un caffè di New York. “Sia esso il marito, il padre o un fratello”. Questo deve cambiare”.

Ma Dana dubita che il cambiamento avverrà presto, anche se il principe Salman, ex ministro della difesa considerato il candidato favorito, succedesse al re.

“Le cose debbono cambiare a partire dalla gente e non dai governanti”, ha detto Dana. “In passato credevo che moltissime donne volessero apertamente i loro diritti, ma non è così. La maggioranza è molto tradizionale, il che è piuttosto triste”.

Hajer Naili è una reporter di Women’s eNews che vive a New York. Ha lavorato per parecchie radio e pubblicazioni in Francia e Nordafrica, ed è specializzata in Medioriente e Nordafrica.

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Saudi Women Seek Lasting Marriages With Foreigners (Italian Translation)

photocreditthemarriagecoachesSaudi Women Seek Lasting Marriages With Foreigners
By Laura Bashraheeel
Saudi Gazette | Jeddah
1 December 2012

A growing number of young Saudi women are marrying foreigners while slowly breaking down cultural and social taboos.

Saudi society may still be struggling to accept the idea of citizens marrying foreigners but that hasn’t stopped Saudi women from choosing who they want to marry.

According to statistics published last year, the Ministry of Interior approved 6,123 marriage requests of Saudi men wanting to marry non-Saudi women and vice versa. The percentage of Saudi marriages to non-Saudis was only 10 percent of this number or 612 marriages.

A proposed law governing the marriage of Saudi nationals to foreigners was recently transferred by the Shoura Council to a special committee for further study.

Shoura Council member Sadaqa Fadel told Saudi Gazette recently that the council needs to restudy the issue in order to be able to make a decision.

“It is a complicated issue that will affect a large number of people,” Fadel said.

In the past, the majority of foreign men Saudi women married were from Arab countries. However, in recent years marriages to European and US nationals have become increasingly common despite the vast cultural and language gaps.

Hasna’a M, a 35-year-old research and media manager, is married to a Canadian-Egyptian and both live in Jeddah. Previously, Hasna’a had been married to a Saudi man and engaged to another. She believes that the majority of Saudi men, or at least the ones she dealt with, do not know how to treat women.

“Most of them are brought up to believe that they’re God’s gifts to Saudi women. Some Saudi men expect to get married to women who play a motherly role. They think they can get away with murder and they are walking contradictions,” she said.

Hasna’a said one such contradiction is the lip service some men pay to women’s right at work but at home those rights are never granted to women.

“I have been married for nearly five years and I feel like I can be myself with my non-Saudi husband. He respects me, appreciates my aspirations and ambitions and he supports me in everything I do. Our marriage is like any other marriage with its good and bad days. The only difference is that he has a better understanding of me as a woman and he respects me as a human being,” she explained.

“I never planned to get married to a non-Saudi man, but I’m glad fate brought him my way,” she said while adding that Saudi society as a whole is becoming more understanding and gradually accepting mixed marriages.

“My father was a bit worried because he didn’t know much about his background or family. They’re best friends now. This is not the case with everyone; there’s still a large percentage of people who think it’s a taboo or against customs.”

For a Saudi woman to marry a non-Saudi, a permit must be obtained for the marriage to be legal and certified.

In order to get a permit, there are a number of conditions one has to fulfill, the first being reaching the age of 25 years. The entire process can take months and in some cases years.

“There are no clear instructions on the procedure or how long it will take to process. It’s a matter of luck and who you know or how much you pay in order to get your paperwork done. It took us a year to get the approval,” Hasna’a said.

Heba, a 29-year-old senior physiotherapist, is married to a Greek national and they live together in the UK where they met. Heba said the bad experiences of women she knew and the country’s high divorce rate played a role in her decision to marry a foreigner.

“We fell in love that’s why we got married. However, possibly I was looking for someone who lives outside Saudi Arabia and is open-minded,” she said while adding that a lot of people in the Kingdom seem to get married for the wrong reasons, including not being mature enough to sustain a healthy relationship.

Heba said she encountered some initial resistance from her family but now that she has a child, they have come to accept everything. “Speaking from experience, society still does not accept such unions, which I feel may be because of racist notions.”

Like Hasna’a, Heba had to obtain a permit to get married. She said although the authorities were discouraging and unsupportive, she didn’t face any major difficulties.

“It took me six months to obtain the permit and that was mainly because whenever the application was forwarded to a new department, it would remain there until I submitted additional documents. We had to keep track constantly and call different departments to check up on the progress,” she added.

Lama, 29, is preparing to marry a Turkish man. She said she has no specific reason for marrying a non-Saudi and cares more about her fiancé’s personality and how he treats her than what his nationality is.

“Successful or failed marriages are based on individual personal experiences,” Lama said.

Photo Credit: The Marriage Coaches 

_____BEGIN ITALIAN TRANSLATION_____

Donne Saudite Che Cercano Matrimoni Duraturi Con Stranieri
Di Laura Bashraheel
Saudi Gazette | Jeddah
1 Dicembre 2012
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

Un numero crescente di giovani donne saudite sposano stranieri, infrangendo un po’ alla volta tabù culturali e sociali.

La società saudita probabilmente sta ancora lottando per accettare l’idea che dei cittadini sposino stranieri, ma questo non ha impedito a donne saudite di scegliere chi vogliono sposare.

In base a statistiche pubblicate l’anno scorso, il Ministero dell’Interno ha approvato 6.123 richieste di matrimonio di uomini stranieri intenzionati a sposare donne non-saudite e viceversa. La percentuale di matrimoni di sauditi con non-sauditi è stata solo pari al 10% del totale, ovvero 612 matrimoni.

Una proposta di legge che disciplini il matrimonio di sauditi con stranieri è stata recentemente trasferita dal Consiglio della Shoura ad un comitato speciale per ulteriori studi.

Sadaqa Fadel, membro della Shoura, ha detto recentemente a Saudi Gazette che il consiglio deve studiare nuovamente la questione per essere in grado di prendere una decisione.

“E’ una questione complicata che avrà effetto su un gran numero di persone”, ha detto Fadel.

In passato, la maggioranza degli uomini stranieri che si sposavano con donne saudite proveniva da paesi arabi. Tuttavia, negli ultimi anni i matrimoni con europei e statunitensi sono diventati sempre più comuni, nonostante i grandi gap culturali e linguistici.

Hasna’a M, una trentacinquenne ricercatrice e media manager, è sposata con un canadese-egiziano ed entrambi vivono a Jeddah. In passato, Hasna’a è stata sposata con un saudita e fidanzata con un altro. Lei ritiene che la maggioranza degli uomini sauditi, o quanto meno quelli con cui lei ha avuto a che fare, non sa come trattare le donne.

“La maggior parte di loro è stata allevata con l’idea di essere un dono di Dio alle donne saudite. Alcuni uomini sauditi si aspettano di sposarsi con donne che assumo un ruolo materno. Pensano di poterla fare franca sempre, e sono delle contraddizioni ambulanti”, ha detto.

Hasna’a ha detto che una di queste contraddizioni è il sostenere a parole, nel posto di lavoro, i diritti delle donne, mentre a casa non vengono mai riconosciuti alle donne quei diritti.

“Sono sposata da quasi cinque anni e sento che con il mio marito non-saudita posso essere me stessa. Lui mi rispetta, apprezza le mie aspirazioni e ambizioni e mi supporta in ogni cosa che faccio. Il nostro matrimonio è come qualsiasi altro matrimonio, con giorni buoni e giorni cattivi. L’unica differenza è che lui mi capisce meglio come donna e mi rispetta come essere umano”, ha spiegato.

“Non era nei miei progetti sposare un non-saudita, ma sono contenta che il destino lo abbia messo sulla mia strada” ha detto, aggiungendo che la società saudita nel suo complesso sta diventando molto più comprensiva e sta gradualmente accettando i matrimoni misti.

“Mio padre era un po’ preoccupato perchè non sapeva molto del suo background né della sua famiglia. Adesso sono ottimi amici. Non è così per tutti; c’è ancora un’alta percentuale di persone che pensa sia un tabù o vada contro le tradizioni.”

Perchè una donna saudita sposi un non-saudita ci vuole un permesso perchè il matrimonio sia legale e certificato.

Per ottenere il permesso, bisogna soddisfare ad un certo numero di condizioni, la prima delle quali è il compimento del venticinquesimo anno d’età. L’intero procedimento può durare mesi e in alcuni casi anni.

“Non ci sono istruzioni chiare in merito alla procedura o a quanto essa durerà. E’ una questione di fortuna, di conoscenze e di quanto paghi perchè vengano completati i tuoi incartamenti. Per noi ci è voluto un anno per avere il permesso”, ha detto Hasna’a.

Heba, una fisioterapista di 29 anni, è sposata con un greco e i due vivono nel Regno Unito dove si sono incontrati. Heba ha raccontato che le brutte esperienze di donne che ha conosciuto e l’alta percetuale di divorzi del paese hanno avuto un ruolo nella sua decisione di sposare uno straniero.

“Ci siamo innamorati, e per questo ci siamo sposati. Ma forse ero alla ricerca di qualcuno che vivesse fuori dall’Arabia Saudita e fosse di mentalità aperta” ha raccontato, aggiungendo che molte persone nel Regno sembrano sposarsi per le ragioni sbagliate, incluso il fatto di non essere abbastanza mature per portare avanti una relazione sana.

Heba ha detto di aver incontrato una resistenza iniziale da parte della sua famiglia, ma adesso che ha un figlio hanno accettato tutto. “Parlando in base all’esperienza, la società non accetta ancora queste unioni, il che avviene secondo me a causa del razzismo”.

Come Hasna’a, Heba ha dovuto ottenere un permesso per sposarsi. Ha raccontato che, benchè le autorità abbiano avuto un atteggiamento scoraggiante e di scarso aiuto, lei non ha incontrato sostanziali difficoltà.

“Ci ho messo sei mesi ad ottenere il permesso, principalmente perchè ogni volta che la domanda veniva inviata ad un nuovo dipartimento rimaneva là finchè io non presentavo ulteriori documenti. Dovevamo monitorare costantemente e chiamare i vari dipartimenti per tenere sotto controllo il procedimento”, ha aggiunto.

Lama, 29 anni, si sta preparando a sposare un turco. Dice di non avere una ragione specifica per la quale sposa un non-saudita, e che le importa di più la personalità del suo fidanzato e come lui la tratta, piuttosto che la nazionalità di lui.

“I matrimoni riusciti o falliti sono basati sulle esperienze personali individuali”, ha detto Lama.

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Saudis Without Citizenship: How Much Longer? (Italian Translation)

Saudis Without Citizenship: How Much Longer?
By Maram Meccawy
Arab News — Courtesy of Alwatan newspaper
Monday 15 October 2012

LIVING AMONG us are Saudi citizens by birth, upbringing and education. They are Saudis in their hearts and minds, and some even have Saudi mothers. They are Saudis who are Muslims and speak the local Arabic dialect.

I remember some of our classmates in school, whom we did not know were any different to the rest of us, until the vice principle at school asked the “foreign” students to stand up to be counted. They stood, with red faces embarrassed. Theirs was the shame of not being able to officially belong to this nation because they remained without official papers to prove it.

Eight years ago I wrote an article for Al-Watan newspaper titled: “The Paperless Saudis.” I do not think a lot has changed since that time unfortunately. As one woman said bitterly: “Fifty years and still foreigners.” She told how her father, at the age of 13, emigrated from Yemen to Saudi Arabia during the reign of King Saud.

In this new country, he grew up, married, had children and severed all ties with his old country. She added: “The problem is not just a matter of citizenship. The problem is we grew up here and our loyalty and sense of belonging is to this country. We know no other home, but where we are actually seen as just immigrants, no matter how long we’ve been here. There is no law protecting us from being deported at any moment the sponsor wishes to.”

This overwhelming sense of bitterness and injustice is what distinguishes the third generation of so-called immigrants from the second generation, because they do not have a single doubt that they are the children of this country where they were born, that they are entitled to Saudi citizenship, and feel it is a fundamental right that has been taken away from them.

Abdul Mohsen is a young Saudi man by birth and upbringing, although his passport is Taiwanese. Incidentally, he has no ethnic or family ties with the Republic of China. He is suffering from this now that he is ready for marriage. He is Saudi by birth, upbringing, language and traditions, so only a Saudi girl who grew up on the traditions and customs of this country would suit him. When he proposed to one of his relatives, her family rejected him, despite his excellent education and good job because he doesn’t have a Saudi passport. Interestingly, all members of his extended family are Saudis, including his brothers, except him and his parents, despite being born in the Kingdom as well. “I thought a lot about immigrating to Canada, but I am hesitating. I lived my whole life a stranger in my own country, how I will live as a stranger in a strange country?” Said Mohsen.

In addition, a Saudi woman who marries a non-Saudi always suffers, as she cannot obtain naturalization for him and their children, or even get them permanent residency, without considerable effort, if ever.

On the other hand, if her brother were to marry a foreign woman who reverted to Islam in name only, not knowing our language or anything about our country, she and her children are able to obtain citizenship very easily. This is another glaring example of the difference between being a female and male citizen in Saudi Arabia.

The stories mentioned above are the tip of the iceberg of countless wretched stories that I had heard, but they explain some of the complexities of naturalization in Saudi Arabia. These are not people who arrived yesterday and want to settle here, but people who have been here for generations, not merely five or ten years of residency. They would not leave this country because it’s their home, but have not obtained citizenship. They marry and have children, and therefore their problems and suffering will continue for generations to come unless we try to solve it effectively once and for all.

It is indisputable that every sovereign nation has the right to put whatever conditions and laws it wants relating to nationality, and in a country with a specific religion, like Saudi Arabia, it is natural that there will be requirements such as being Muslim and being fluent in Arabic.

It is also the right of the state to specify a minimum number of years of residency, in order to have the right to citizenship, because of the great number of non-citizens who currently make up more than a quarter of the total population.

However, we must deal with each case individually. There should be a fair and clear system that benefits good people, and assures everyone a safe, fair and decent life in their country.

E-mail: Maram.meccawy@gmail.com

Photo Credit: Trust

_____BEGIN ITALIAN TRANSLATION_____

Sauditi Senza Cittadinanza: Per Quanto Tempo Ancora?
Di Maram Meccawy
Arab News – Per gentile concessione del quotidiano Alwatan
Lunedì 15 Ottobre 2012
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

Vivono tra noi, sono cittadini sauditi per nascita, educazione e istruzione. Sono sauditi nel cuore e nella mente, e alcuni addirittura hanno madri saudite. Sono sauditi che sono musulmani e parlano l’arabo dialettale locale.

Ricordo alcuni compagni di scuola che non sapevamo fossero in qualche modo diversi da noi, fino a quando il vicepreside a scuola ha chiesto agli studenti “stranieri” di alzarsi in piedi per essere contati. Si sono alzati rossi in faccia e imbarazzati. La loro era la vergogna di non essere in grado di appartenere ufficialmente a questa nazione perchè erano sprovvisti dei documenti ufficiali che provavano questa appartenenza.

Otto anni fa ho scritto un articolo per il quotidiano Al-Watan intitolato: “I sauditi senza documenti”. Purtroppo penso che non molto sia cambiato da allora. Come ha amaramente affermato una donna: “Cinquant’anni e ancora stranieri”. Ha raccontato che suo padre, all’età di tredici anni, era emigrato dallo Yemen in Arabia Saudita durante il regno del re Saud.

In questo nuovo paese era cresciuto, si era sposato, aveva avuto figli e aveva tagliato tutti i ponti con il suo paese d’origine. Ha aggiunto: “Il problema non è solo la cittadinanza. Il problema è che siamo cresciuti qui e la nostra lealtà e il senso di appartenenza vanno a questo paese. Non conosciamo altra casa che quella in cui siamo in realtà visti solo come immigrati, indipendentemente da quanto tempo viviamo qui. Non esiste una legge che ci tuteli dal rischio di essere deportati in qualsiasi momento il nostro sponsor lo desideri”.

Un senso opprimente di amarezza e ingiustizia è ciò che distingue la terza generazione di cosiddetti immigrati dalla seconda generazione, perchè non hanno il minimo dubbio di essere figli di questo paese in cui sono nati, di avere diritto alla cittadinanza saudita, e sentono che è un diritto fondamentale quello di cui sono stati privati.

Abdul Mohsen è un giovane uomo saudita per nascita ed educazione, sebbene il suo passaporto sia taiwanese. Per inciso, non ha legami né etnici né familiari con la Repubblica Popolare Cinese. Soffre a causa di questa situazione adesso, dato che è pronto per il matrimonio. E’ saudita per nascita, educazione, lingua e tradizioni, perciò gli andrebbe bene solo una ragazza saudita cresciuta con le tradizioni e i costumi di questo paese. Quando ha fatto la proposta di matrimonio ad una parente, la famiglia di lei l’ha rifiutato, nonostante il suo eccellente livello di istruzione e il suo buon lavoro, per il fatto che non ha passaporto saudita. La cosa interessante è che tutti i membri della sua numerosa famiglia sono sauditi, inclusi i suoi fratelli, tranne lui e i suoi genitori, nonostante anche loro siano nati nel Regno. “Ho pensato a lungo di emigrare in Canada, ma sono esitante. Ho trascorso tutta la vita nel mio paese come uno straniero, come potrò vivere in un paese straniero come straniero?”, ha detto Mohsen.

Inoltre, una donna saudita che sposi un non-saudita soffre sempre, perchè non può ottenere la naturalizzazione per lui e per i loro figli, o persino ottenere per loro la residenza in via definitiva, senza grandi sforzi, se mai riesca ad ottenere tutto ciò.

D’altro canto, se il fratello di lei volesse sposare una straniera convertita all’Islam solo formalmente, senza conoscere né la lingua né alcunchè del nostro paese, lei e i suoi figli possono ottenere la cittadinanza molto facilmente. Questo è un altro esempio lampante della differenza tra essere una cittadina e un cittadino in Arabia Saudita.

Le storie appena citate sono la punta dell’iceberg di innumerevoli storie infelici che ho sentito, ma spiegano alcune delle complessità legate alla naturalizzazione in Arabia Saudita. Queste non sono persone arrivate ieri e che vogliono stabilirsi qui, ma persone che sono qui da generazioni, non semplicemente residenti da cinque o dieci anni. Non
lascerebbero questo paese perchè è casa loro, ma non hanno ottenuto la cittadinanza. Si sposano e hanno figli, e così i loro problemi e le loro sofferenze continueranno per le generazioni future se non cerchiamo di risolvere il problema effettivamente una volta per tutte.

E’ indiscutibile che ogni nazione sovrana ha il diritto di fissare le condizioni e le leggi che vuole in merito alla nazionalità, e in un paese con una religione specifica, come l’Arabia Saudita, è naturale che vi siano condizioni del tipo essere musulmani e parlare correntemente l’arabo.

E’ anche diritto dello stato specificare un numero minimo di anni di residenza per avere il diritto alla cittadinanza, dato il grande numero di non-cittadini che attualmente costituiscono più di un quarto della popolazione totale.

Tuttavia, dobbiamo trattare ciascun caso individualmente. Dovrebbe esserci un sistema giusto e chiaro che rechi beneficio alla gente perbene, ed assicuri ad ogni persona una vita sicura, buona e dignitosa nel proprio paese.