Arab Ex-Wife Of A Saudi Needs Iqamah Transfer (Italian Translation)

photocreditjeddahpointDivorced Arab Woman Seeks Urgent Iqama Transfer
Arab News |Jeddah
10 July 2013

An Arab woman with two children from her former Saudi husband is in a quandary because her former spouse refused to renew her residence permit after he divorced her a few years ago.

Umm Raed said her former husband also refused to comply with a court order to pay maintenance for their children aged 11 and 12. She has custody of the children, who are Saudi citizens.

She said she sued for divorce when her life became unbearable because of her husband’s daily physical and mental abuse.

A Shariah court had ruled six years ago that her former spouse should pay a total of SR 1,100 a month for the children’s upkeep, which includes their clothes and medical care. She said her former husband had not renewed her iqama for nine years. She also had to get a new passport from her country’s embassy because he had refused to hand over her original passport. She tried unsuccessfully to transfer her sponsorship a year ago.

A spokesman for the Passport Department said the woman could get assistance if she gets a favorable order from the governor’s office. He said she could also get a sponsorship transfer because her children are Saudi citizens.

Photo Credit: Jeddah Point

taraummomarsignature4

_____BEGIN ITALIAN TRANSLATION_____

Donna Araba Divorziata Cerca Un Urgente Trasferimento Di Iqama
Arab News – Jeddah
10 Luglio 2013
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

Una donna araba con due figli dall’ex marito saudita si trova in un dilemma perchè l’ex coniuge ha rifiutato di rinnovare il suo permesso di residenza dopo aver divorziato da lei alcuni anni fa.

Umm Raed ha detto che il suo ex marito ha anche rifiutato di obbedire ad un’ingiunzione del tribunale di pagare per il mantenimento dei loro figli di 11 e 12 anni. Lei ha la custodia dei figli, che sono cittadini sauditi.

Ha raccontato di aver presentato istanza di divorzio quando la sua vita è diventata insopportabile a causa degli abusi fisici e mentali che subiva quotidianamente dal marito.

Un tribunale della Shariah aveva stabilito sei anni fa che l’ex coniuge doveva pagare un totale di 1.100 rial al mese per il mantenimento dei figli, e in questa somma erano inclusi l’abbigliamento e le cure mediche. Ha detto che l’ex marito non le rinnovava l’iqama da nove anni. Aveva anche dovuto ottenere un nuovo passaporto dall’ambasciata del suo paese perchè lui aveva rifiutato di consegnare il suo passaporto. Ha tentato senza successo di trasferire la propria sponsorizzazione un anno fa.

Un portavoce del Dipartimento per i Passaporti ha detto che la donna potrebbe ricevere assistenza se ottenesse un ordine in suo favore dall’ufficio del governatore. Ha detto che potrebbe anche ottenere un trasferimento della sponsorizzazione perchè i suoi figli sono cittadini sauditi.

Passport Office Still Charging Iqamah Fees For Children Of Saudi Mothers And Non-Saudi Fathers (Italian Translation)

justiceforchildrenJustice For Children Of Saudi Women
By Abdo Khal
Okaz, Local Viewpoint

There have been a number of government decisions that have remained dormant for a long time without being implemented. These decisions have been in deep slumber in the drawers of the concerned government departments. They will not wake up no matter how much noise we make about them.

The most prominent of these is the decision concerning the children of Saudi women married to foreigners.

All the decisions in this regard have made it clear that these children should be treated as Saudi citizens. In reality they are not. The decisions remained just ink on paper. The situation continues as it is without any change.

A number of official statements were made on the issue of equal treatment but the real facts of life nullify all these statements. An example for this is the treatment of children of Saudi mothers and foreign fathers at the Passport Department. The Ministry of Labor has given the Saudi mothers the right to sponsor her own children. A government decision said these children should be exempted from paying fees for the iqama issuance or transfer.

However, the Passport Department did not implement the decision and is still charging fees. The fees are too high to bear for some mothers, especially the unemployed ones. Therefore, it is imperative that the decision exempting the children of Saudi mothers and foreign fathers from iqama fees should be implemented without delay.

The Passport Department should also stop writing on the iqamas of these children the statement that they are “working as sons and daughters with their mother”. This phrase should never be used by a government department that should look instead for a more humane alternative. Why not simply write on the iqamas of these children that “they are sons and daughters of a Saudi mother” instead of working for their mother?

The same thing applies to foreign women married to Saudis. Instead of writing on her iqama that she is working for her husband, just mention that she is the wife of a Saudi.

The issue of naturalization is an old one, which is being dealt with very slowly. Many families have been suffering from this problem. Their sons and daughters were born in the Kingdom and did not know any other home but still they are not considered Saudi citizens. This problem should be resolved immediately instead of protracting it for long years without any real solution.

_____BEGIN ITALIAN TRANSLATION_____

Giustizia Per I Figli Di Donne Saudite
Di Abdo Khal
Okaz, Local Viewpoint
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

C’è un certo numero di decisioni del governo che sono rimaste dormienti per lungo tempo senza essere implementate. Queste decisioni giacciono in un sonno profondo nei cassetti dei dipartimenti governativi interessati. Non si sveglieranno, per quanto forte sia il rumore che facciamo attorno a loro.

La più importante di queste decisioni è la decisione che riguarda i figli di donne saudite sposate con stranieri.

Tutte le decisioni a questo riguardo hanno specificato che questi figli dovrebbero essere trattati come cittadini sauditi. In realtà non avviene così. La decisione è rimasta lettera morta. La situazione rimane la stessa senza nessun cambiamento.

Ci sono state delle dichiarazioni ufficiali sulla questione dell’uguale trattamento, ma la realtà della vita invalida queste dichiarazioni. Un esempio in questo senso è il trattamento dei figli di madri saudite e padri stranieri presso il Dipartimento per i Passaporti. Il Ministero del Lavoro ha dato alle madri saudite il diritto di sponsorizzare i propri figli. Una decisione governativa ha stabilito che questi figli dovrebbero essere esonerati dal pagamento delle tasse sulla concessione o il trasferimento dell’iqama.

Tuttavia, il Dipartimento per i Passaporti non ha implementato la decisione e ancora fa pagare le tasse. Per alcune madri, specialmente quelle disoccupate, le tasse sono troppo alte. Di conseguenza, è tassativo implementare senza dilazioni la decisione che esonera i figli di madri saudite e padri stranieri dal pagamento delle tasse sull’iqama.

Il Dipartimento per i Passaporti dovrebbe anche smettere di scrivere sugli iqama di questi figli la frase che essi “stanno lavorando con la loro madre in qualità di figli e figlie”. Questa frase non dovrebbe mai essere usata da un dipartimento governativo che, invece, dovrebbe cercare un’alternativa più umana. Perchè non scrivere sull’iqama di questi figli semplicemente che “sono figli e figlie di madre saudita” al posto di scrivere che lavorano per la madre?

Lo stesso vale per le donne straniere sposate con sauditi. Invece di scrivere sul loro iqama che lavorano per il marito, si potrebbe scrivere che sono mogli di un saudita.

La questione della naturalizzazione è vecchia, e la si sta affrontando con grande lentezza. Molte famiglie soffrono a causa di questo problema. I loro figli e le loro figlie sono nati nel Regno e non conoscono altra casa, ma non sono considerati cittadini sauditi. Questo problema dovrebbe essere risolto immediatamente invece di protrarlo per lunghi anni senza nessuna soluzione reale.

taraummomarsignature1

Non-Saudi Widow Of A Saudi Searching For A Sponsor To Remain In Saudi Arabia (Italian Translation)

photocreditsaudigazetteThe FHWS newsletter for 25 April – 26 May 2013 has been sent out. Details for subscribing to the newsletter are located here. Italian translation by A.P. added to Saudi Arabia Abduction Cases: Ginger Mayes And Zarminah Al-Rabiah. Tara Umm Omar

The Other Side Of The Curtain
By Tariq A. Al-Maeena
Saudi Gazette
15 May 2013

There is a fever in the air, generated by the recent crackdown by the passport department and officials from the Ministry of Labor on the status of illegal residents or those expatriates with residency violations. Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in his benevolence has allowed a grace period of three months for those with suspect papers to get them corrected.

While new rules have been announced to ease the burden on hundreds of thousands of residency violators, there seems to be a group that feels ignored and left on the sidelines without much hope of retribution. In the case of one expatriate who finds herself in such a situation, it demands sympathy for the predicament she finds herself in. But I shall leave my readers to judge that for themselves.

Her story goes as follows: “Good Morning, Mr. Tariq. I do not usually write letters to newspapers but in this instance I found that I had to ask this question to be addressed. I met and married my Saudi husband in 1988 and left my country and family to come to Saudi Arabia to live. My husband passed away in 2002, may God have mercy on his soul. I have one daughter from my husband who is now 13.

“After he died I could not renew my iqama for 5 years due to sensitive issues I was experiencing with my in-laws. They were not very cooperative or sincere to me or to my daughter. I finally had to write the governor of Riyadh for permission to transfer my iqama to an old family friend, which he granted. Our old family friend passed away approximately three months ago due to age and ailing health, Allah bless his soul.

“So now I am in the same boat so to speak. I have to search and look for someone to sponsor me again and transfer my sponsorship to them which is not easy in this present climate of Saudization. I completely understand and support the drive for Saudization. However, I wish that the government would address and look at the situation of women that have come here for marriage and not for economic gain.

“For after a person, and it could be any person, spends a certain amount of time in any place, they inherit their friends, their place in society, and their sense of well being and security. I believe there is an Arabic saying that says that if you spend 40 days with some people you become like them. Well, I have spent almost 25 years of my life here and would like to feel a bit more secure about my situation than someone who has just come to this country for work.

“Today I find myself in a very vulnerable position as a mother of a 13-year-old girl and a widow expatriate without a sponsor. I am not sure how the laws will apply in this particular case but what if I fail to find a sponsor before the grace period runs out; someone kind enough to understand my dire straits and do the honorable thing of granting myself and my daughter unconditional sponsorship without unreasonable demands?

“It is not easy to find such sponsors. Especially under the current climate where many are afraid to lend their names to any expatriate. It would have to be one of my husband’s relatives or associates, but as I had said earlier, it certainly would not be anyone from his family. They were against the marriage from the start, and went out of their way to try to break our marriage. It was only my husband’s devotion to me and our little girl that prevented them from succeeding. Now they blame me for his early death, not realizing the empty hole of my existence each waking moment.

“But I have to put my misery to the side and seek a solution. I fear the outcome if I cannot succeed. Would that mean that the country I spent many years in with my Saudi husband and raised my little girl would no longer be home and that I would be forced out? Is that fair and just? We have broken no laws. We were simply deserted. I am sure there are other women in similar situations like mine, but there isn’t much clarity in the news about how our situation can be alleviated without separation from the land we have come to call home.

“My hope in writing this letter to you is that perhaps you can take your eloquent pen and write an article that might address this situation. Thank you for your taking your time to read my letter. Sincerely, C.”

That was indeed a difficult letter to put down. The loss from the death of a spouse is hard enough to bear but the double whammy of not being secure of one’s residency is a staggering load of concern. I wish I could address her uncertainties with complete reassurance, but the truth of the matter is that I myself do not have the answers for someone in her situation. If some reader does, then perhaps they could enlighten us all.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena

Photo Credit: Saudi Gazette 

_____BEGIN ITALIAN TRANSLATION_____

L’altro Lato Della Cortina
Di Tariq A. Al-Maeena
Saudi Gazette
15 Maggio 2013
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

C’è una febbre nell’aria, generata dal recente giro di vite del dipartimento per i passaporti e dei funzionari del Ministero del Lavoro sullo status dei residenti illegali o degli stranieri che violano le norme sulla residenza. Il Custode delle Due Sante Moschee re Abdullah nella sua benevolenza ha concesso una dilazione di tre mesi a favore di coloro che possiedono documenti sospetti affinchè li rettifichino.

Mentre sono stata annunciate nuove regole per alleggerire il peso che grava su centinaia di migliaia di persone che violano le regole sulla residenza, sembra che ci sia un gruppo che si sente ignorato e abbandonato ai margini senza molta speranza di una ricompensa. Nel caso di una straniera che si trova in una situazione di questo tipo, è richiesta la comprensione per la difficile situazione nella quale si viene a trovare. Ma lascerò ai miei lettori giudicare da loro stessi.

Questa è la sua storia: “Buongiorno, signor Tariq. Di solito non scrivo lettere ai quotidiani, ma in questo caso ho scoperto che dovevo fare questa domanda. Ho incontrato e sposato il mio marito saudita nel 1988, e ho lasciato il mio paese e la mia famiglia per venire a vivere in Arabia Saudita. Mio marito è morto nel 2002, Dio abbia pietà della sua anima. Ho una figlia da mio marito, che adesso ha 13 anni.

“Dopo la sua morte non ho potuto rinnovare il mio iqama per 5 anni per via di alcune questioni delicate con i miei parenti. Non collaboravano né erano sinceri con me e mia figlia. Alla fine ho dovuto scrivere al governatore di Riyadh per ottenere il permesso di trasferire il mio iqama ad un vecchio amico di famiglia, e lui me l’ha concesso. Il nostro vecchio amico di famiglia è mancato circa tre mesi fa per via dell’età e della salute precaria, che Dio benedica la sua anima.

“Così adesso mi trovo nella stessa barca, per così dire. Devo di nuovo cercare qualcuno che mi sponsorizzi e trasferire a questa persona la mia sponsorizzazione, il che non è facile nell’attuale clima di sauditizzazione. Capisco a fondo e appoggio lo sforzo per la sauditizzazione. Tuttavia, mi auguro che il governo prenda in considerazione la situazione delle donne che sono venute qui per matrimonio e non per guadagno.

“Perchè dopo che una persona, e potrebbere essere chiunque, trascorre un certo tempo in un posto, eredita gli amici, il suo posto nella società e il suo senso di benessere e sicurezza. Credo ci sia un detto in arabo che se trascorri 40 giorni con delle persone diventi come loro. Bene, io ho trascorso quasi 25 anni della mia vita qui e mi piacerebbe sentirmi un po’ più sicura della mia situazione rispetto a una persona che è appena arrivata in questo paese per lavoro.

“Oggi mi trovo in un posizione molto vulnerabile, in quanto madre di una ragazza di 13 anni e vedova straniera senza uno sponsor. Non sono sicura di come le leggi verranno applicate in questo caso particolare, ma cosa succederà se non riesco a trovare uno sponsor prima che finisca la dilazione? Qualcuno sarebbe così gentile da capire la mia gravissima situazione e compiere il gesto onorevole di concedere a me e a mia figlia una sponsorizzazione senza condizioni e senza richieste irragionevoli?

“Non è facile trovare sponsor di questo tipo. Specialmente nell’attuale clima in cui molti hanno paura di prestare i loro nomi ad uno straniero. Dovrebbe essere un parente o un collega di mio marito, ma come ho già detto non sarebbe nessuno della sua famiglia. Loro sono stati contro il matrimonio fin dall’inizio, e hanno fatto di tutto per cercare di porre fine al nostro matrimonio. Solo la devozione di mio marito a me e alla nostra bambina ha fatto sì che non ci riuscissero. Adesso mi incolpano della sua morte precoce, senza rendersi conto del vuoto che si è creato nella mia esistenza quotidiana.

“Ma devo lasciare da parte la mia infelicità e cercare una soluzione. Se non riesco, ho paura degli effetti. Vorrebbe dire che il paese nel quale ho trascorso molti anni con il mio marito saudita e ho fatto crescere la mia bambina non è più casa e che sarei costretta ad andarmene? E’ giusto questo? Non abbiamo infranto la legge. Siamo state semplicemente abbandonate. Sono sicura che ci sono altre donne in situazioni simili alla mia, ma non c’è molta chiarezza nelle notizie su come la nostra situazione possa essere alleggerita senza separarci dalla terra che siamo arrivate a chiamare casa.

“La mia speranza nello scriverle questa lettera è che forse lei possa prendere in mano la sua penna eloquente e scrivere un articolo su questa situazione. Grazie per il tempo dedicato a leggere la mia lettera. Sinceramente, C.”

E’ stata una lettera davvero difficile da scrivere. La perdita legata alla morte di un coniuge è già abbastanza difficile da sopportare, ma il problema di non essere sicuri della propria residenza è un carico incredibile di preoccupazione. Vorrei essere in grado di rivolgermi alle sue incertezze offrendo una rassicurazione completa, ma la verità è che io stesso non ho risposte per una persona nella sua situazione. Se qualche lettore ne ha, forse potrebbe illuminarci.

taraummomarsignature1

Saudi Tries Unsuccessfully To Smuggle Pregnant Wife Into Saudi Arabia (Italian Translation)

stophumantrafficking

The FHWS newsletter for 1-19 February 2013 has been sent out. To sign up for the newsletter, directions are located here.

Italian translation by A.P. added to Improved Status For Children Born To Saudi Women And Non-Saudi Men; Greater Rights.

Tara Umm Omar

Saudi Husband’s Plan To Smuggle Pregnant Wife Busted
Saudi Gazette | Qurayat
15 February 2013

Custom officials in Al-Hudaitha entry point in Al-Qurayat were shocked to find a woman hidden underneath the luggage in a car.

During investigation, the driver, a Saudi national, confessed that he was trying to smuggle his pregnant wife into the Kingdom because he could not avail a visa that would allow her to enter the country from Jordan.

The couple is reportedly legally married and possess all official documents. The case has been referred to the passport department for further investigation. — SG

_____BEGIN ITALIAN TRANSLATION_____

Smascherato Piano Di Un Marito Saudita Per Far Entrare Illegalmente La Moglie Incinta
Saudi Gazette – Qurayat
15 Febbraio 2013
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

Gli ufficiali della dogana di Al-Hudaitha ad Al-Qurayat sono rimasti scioccati nel trovare una donna nascosta sotto il bagaglio in una macchina.

Durante le indagini il conducente, cittadino saudita, ha confessato che stava cercando di far entrare illegalmente la moglie incinta nel Regno, poiché non aveva a disposizione un visto che le permettesse di entrare nel paese provenendo dalla Giordania.

A quanto pare, la coppia è sposata legalmente ed è in possesso di tutti i documenti ufficiali. Il caso è stato affidato al dipartimento passaporti per ulteriori indagini.

taraummomarsignature1

Improved Status For Children Born To Saudi Women And Non-Saudi Men; Greater Rights (Italian Translation)

photocreditzazzleAt the end of last month there was an announcement by Arab News, “Sons Of Saudi Women Married To Foreigners Get Privileges” that was removed. Here is the FHWS blog post about it. A FHWS reader, Maya, called to my attention that, “there is a mis-translation from Arabic to English in this article. I have read about this in many Arabic newspapers and none specified “sons” as in male children. I think the author of this article thought the Arabic word “abna أبناء” literally meant “sons” while it was mentioned as a general word implying male and female children. These are some of the articles I read regarding the issues mentioned in the English article posted. Note the use of “abna” and “awlad” didn’t exclude females and I believe it was used to generalize.” If you are an Arabic speaker, have a look at the following articles and see for yourself…

http://www.saudi-sons.com/ar/?p=1694
http://www.saudi-sons.com/ar/?p=1670
http://www.saudi-sons.com/ar/?p=1703
http://www.saudi-sons.com/ar/?p=1709

Thank you Maya!

Alf mabruk…insha’Allah mubarak…to all the families affected by this new change. Many thanks to the Saudi government for taking progressive steps to improve the quality of life for all of its citizens and expats. May Allah continue to make it easier for all Saudi/non-Saudi couples and their children ameen. May Allah grant full rights to all Saudis and non-Saudis living in the Kingdom and spread throughout the world ameen.

Italian translation by A.P. has been added to Saudi Woman Wishes Death On Her Brother So That She Can Be Free To Marry A Non-Saudi Man and also to Children Born To Saudi Mother And Non-Saudi Father Will Be Granted Citizenship.

Tara Umm Omar

Kids In Mixed Marriages Granted Greater Rights
Saudi Gazette report | Riyadh
6 February 2013

The Directorate of Passports has begun the process of improving the status of children of Saudi women married to non-Saudis, a local newspaper reported.

The process has already begun in Riyadh, Jeddah and Madinah with Makkah to follow suit.

The minister of interior has instructed five ministries and emirs of provinces to help improve the status of Saudi women who chose to marry non-Saudis. The process involves granting the children of such couples the sponsorship of their mother.

If they live outside the Kingdom, she will have the right to bring them into the country to live with her under her sponsorship.

The government will bear the cost of their iqama fees and they will be allowed to work in the private sector without the need to transfer their sponsorship to their employer.

They will be treated as Saudis when receiving education and healthcare and will be counted toward the Saudization percentage in the private sector.

The passports offices were flooded with beneficiaries of this landmark decision.

They were calling for a directive to facilitate the procedure of granting citizenship to children of Saudi women regardless of who they were married to.

New conditions that were approved last year require proof of the mother’s and grandfather’s identity to consider an application for citizenship.

A Saudi woman can also bring her non-Saudi husband from abroad to live with her under her sponsorship.

His iqama will show that he is the husband of a Saudi citizen. The marriage should have been approved and authenticated by the government.

Photo Credit: Zazzle

FURTHER READING
Women Married To Foreigners Can Now Sponsor Kids, Spouse
Breakthrough: Saudi Women Can Pass On Citizenship Rights To Their Children
ترصد أصداء تنفيذ قرار مجلس الوزراء الخاص بتنظيم زواج السعوديات بغير سعودي

_____BEGIN ITALIAN TRANSLATION_____

I Bambini Nati Da Matrimoni Misti Ottengono Maggiori Diritti
Saudi Gazette report – Riyadh
6 Febbraio 2013
Traduzione Italiana di A.P.

La Direzione per i Passaporti, secondo quanto riportato da un quotidiano locale, ha dato inizio al processo per migliorare lo status dei figli di madri saudite sposate con non-sauditi.

Il processo è già iniziato a Riyadh, Jeddah e Medina, e a ruota seguirà La Mecca.

Il ministro dell’interno ha dato istruzioni a cinque ministeri e agli emiri delle provincie perchè aiutino a migliorare lo status delle donne saudite che scelgono di sposare non-sauditi. Fa parte del processo la concessione ai figli di queste coppie della sponsorizzazione materna.

Se vivono fuori dal Regno, lei avrà il diritto di portarli a vivere con sé nel paese sotto con la sua sponsorizzazione.

Il governo si accollerà i costi del loro iqama ed avranno il permesso di lavorare nel settore privato senza che sia necessario trasferire la loro sponsorizzazione al datore di lavoro.

Saranno trattati come sauditi nei servizi educativi e nell’assistenza sanitaria, e nel settore privato saranno conteggiati nella percentuale destinata alla sauditizzazione.

Gli uffici passaporti sono stati presi d’assalto dai beneficiari di questa decisione che costituisce una pietra miliare.

Questi beneficiari avevano richiesto una direttiva che facilitasse la procedura per la concessione della cittadinanza ai figli di donne saudite, indipendentemente dalla nazionalità dei mariti.

L’anno scorso erano state approvate nuove condizioni che richiedevano prova dell’identità della madre e del nonno perchè venisse presa in considerazione la richiesta per la concessione della cittadinanza.

Una donna saudita può anche portare il marito non-saudita a vivere con sé sotto la sua sponsorizzazione.

L’iqama di lui dimostrerà che è marito di una cittadina saudita. Il matrimonio dovrebbe ricevere l’approvazione e l’autenticazione del governo.

taraummomarsignature1

Awaiting Citizenship For 25 Years

By Arab News | Al-Badaie
31 October 2010

Born to a Saudi father, Samiya and Fahd have been desperately trying to obtain Saudi citizenship for nearly 25 years and hope to one day be recognized as Saudis.

The siblings, who were orphaned in childhood, have led miserable lives, as they have no documents proving they are Saudi. As a result their case has been pending at the Civil Affairs Department for a long time, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported.

Samiya’s father was from Onaiza in the Qassim region and was very poor. “It was in pursuit of a livelihood that my father moved to Kuwait and worked as a shepherd there. After marriage, my parents lived in Al-Zubair, a town located between Kuwait and Iraq,” she said, adding that her father was a Saudi citizen and had a Saudi ID card.

“My father struggled to make ends meet and his death was a real shock for my mother. Soon after he died, she became sick and paralyzed. She died when I was nine. At that time my brother Fahd was less than two. My elder sister was 11 and I had another two brothers who died at a very young age,” she said.

It was after her parents’ death that Samiya and her brother tried to get Saudi nationality. “First we approached the Saudi Embassy in Kuwait. Three prominent figures from Qassim who knew my father well accompanied us. They certified that our father was from Onaiza and that they knew him. As a result of this, the embassy issued a document facilitating our travel to the Kingdom. This was 24 years ago,” she said.

“Then we arrived in Riyadh where we met with a family who used to live in Al-Zubair. It was a member of that family who contacted my nephews and we accordingly reached Buraidah. One of our nephews took us to Onaiza Passport Office where he told officials that he had never seen us before and that he only recently came to know that he has some relatives in Kuwait,” she said.

At this, the officials deported them to Kuwait. “They took us in a vehicle to the border entry point of Al-Salmi. The Kuwaiti authorities, however, refused to give us permission to enter Kuwait as we were considered foreigners and so we returned to Onaiza,” she said, adding that the root cause of their problem lies in the loss of their father’s ID card and other documents.

Samiya said they lived in a dilapidated mud house for some time. “Later on, a benevolent man arranged a small house for us and we moved there. He would also accompany us to court and was successful in getting us a document showing we were Saudi citizens. That generous man also managed to secure us a certificate from Markaz Howailan, a village near Buraidah where my father lived for some time,” she said.

Samiya and Fahd’s misery then became worse after their eldest sister died from cancer at King Saud Hospital in Onaiza. As a result of not having Saudi citizenship, the siblings have been denied other benefits that are given to poor Saudis.

Samiya is, however, optimistic the Civil Affairs Department will look into their case and grant them citizenship. She added that she has a document issued by a court in Onaiza stating they are Saudi and that there are several Saudis who support their claim to citizenship.

Fahd called on members of the public to support them. “The citizenship problem even stood in the way of my education. During the Gulf crisis following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the government facilitated school education for Kuwaiti children who had fled to the Kingdom. I also benefited from it and studied for three years. I was later dismissed from school because of my inability to produce any documents proving I was Saudi,” he said.

Abdullah Al-Jotaili, a lawyer who has been dealing with Samiya and Fahd’s case, urged the Civil Affairs Department to grant the pair Saudi nationality. “They have documents showing that their father was a Saudi citizen from the Najd region, and this was also testified to by a number of prominent figures in front of the Onaiza court,” he said, calling for steps to end their suffering and restore their legal rights as citizens.

Photo Credit: Farraj Al-Khaldi

Saudi Mixed Marriages: What Category Do They Fall In?

By American Bedu
March 20, 2010

Let’s face it, when there is a marriage between a Saudi and a non-Saudi there is automatically a gray category, kind of like a burkha or a shroud surrounding the marriage. It truly seems that neither side (Saudi or other nationality) know how to handle such situation. The dilemma is further perpetuated when it is a marriage between a Saudi and a Westerner, regardless of which nationality is the wife or the husband, but in most cases much more difficult for the Saudi wife who takes a non-Saudi Western husband. I’m aware of very few (less than five) cases myself where a Saudi wife is living in the Kingdom with a non-Saudi Western husband. There could be more but due to the challenges and restrictions few are likely willing to talk about their situation and challenges.

Even in my own case of being an American woman who married a Saudi man, we had to face our own challenges too. And ironically most of those challenges seemed to stem from the government just like the case which I highlighted above in the Arab News article. Neither government seemed to know how to accept a union between a Saudi and an American who had each worked for their respective governments. We became “uncatorizeable” and the lengthy approval process just went on and on.

I believe that mixed marriages between Saudis can actually be pivotal towards building bridges and understanding. And again, there is nothing in the Quran preventing a mixed marriage with a Saudi. The stipulation is that for a muslim woman is she marry a fellow muslim. It is the Saudi government and culture, and perhaps families, which are levying their own restrictions upon who one can marry.

What are the long term effects of what I will refer to as the “Marriage Dictation Process?” It takes strong couples and families to override the tradition. For most couples it is probably easier for them to live outside of Saudi but even then, depending which country and even positions held, there can still be resistance and prejudice.

What I will share is what one should NOT do as it can only create larger risks and harm. My husband and I ultimately received our marriage approval from the King himself but it was not an easy or a short process. However when it was time for my own beloved to return to his home country we made a pact between us to have no more separations in our marriage. Marriage is meant for couples to be together and build and share a life together, not to be thousands of miles and oceans apart. Life is way too short for that and I am speaking from solid experience.

My husband and I had both an Islamic ceremony with individuals from the Saudi embassy as witnesses and a civil ceremony with my own family as witnesses. In spite of these ceremonies our marriage was not approved or recognized in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, against the regulations of traveling to Saudi as a married couple whose marriage was not recognized, my husband and I went to Saudi Arabia together in September 2006. He traveled on his diplomatic passport and I traveled on an umrah visa. And yes, the first thing we did upon arrival was to perform our one and only umrah together.

However an umrah visa is only good for 30 days and in spite of intensified efforts from within Saudi Arabia on the part of my husband, our marriage was not approved within 30 days. As a result, I not only became an illegal alien in a country which would likely deported me if found out and could also have imprisoned my husband, so for a period of time I felt similar to that of a fugitive.

We could not have our own place to live as that was too risky since our marriage was not recognized. Instead we spent the first four months at the home of one of my husband’s relatives. It was not an easy adjustment to Saudi Arabia to start out life in a new country and having limited space and privacy and worry about day-to-day future. My husband understood my own desires for feeling “cooped up” all day while he was at work and needing to receive fresh air and activity. Because of my lack of a residency visa or iqama, I could only go out with him totally covered like the most traditional of Saudi women to avoid attracting attention. Our outings usually included more remote places where there were fewer people who may take notice of us. We spent much time with family for those were considered “safe places” and less likely to have visits by the Muttawa such as the shopping malls. So for the first four months a lot of what I saw of Saudi Arabia was at dark and from the sidelines. My husband felt more at ease taking me out when we were in Makkah or Jeddah than the heart of conservative Riyadh.

The toll though of not having our privacy and own space was beginning to wear on us. Thankfully my husband had a good friend who had an apartment which he did not use at Imam University. Now during this whole time my husband continued his appeals for our marriage to get approved. The primary resistance was his active position as a senior Saudi official. The secondary resistance was the fact that he had chosen to marry a former American official. While the background actions of seeking approval moved ever so steadily, we shifted into a furnished and equipped apartment at Imam University. On one hand it gave me freedom to have a bigger place which did not have to be shared and allow my husband and I much needed privacy. On another hand it could also be compared to a bigger cell. Imam University is among the most conservative of places in Riyadh. As a result, I had to be even more careful to conceal my Americanism. Each floor of the apartment buildings housed four apartments. On the floor we lived on, two of the occupants had been deported from the United States. As a typically outgoing and friendly individual, I had to ensure that I was at my most conservative and rebuff any overtures from the women who lived in our building.

Although I was isolated due to the expired visa, I did have the internet. I used the internet to make friends within Saudi through various newsgroups which eventually led to some carefully planned get-togethers. The friends I made understood the need for caution to come in and out of the carefully guarded Imam University. With these dear friends, life started to become more normalized. Eventually one friend was also able to identify a job for me where an employer was willing to sponsor a work visa for me. This changed my status where I became a legal resident in the Kingdom but it still did not change the fact that my husband and I by choosing to live together without approval remained at risk.

We remained careful and conservative. We had no choice. Our marriage approval would seem to go forward and as quickly as progress was made it would take two steps back. Our approval was in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office. HRH Prince Saud al Faisal rather than give an outright approval stated that he would honor whatever decision the Ministry of Interior took in deciding to approve our marriage. The approval then took several more months to reach the office of HRH Prince Naif. Prince Naif approved our request and the file was returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However this time, HRH Prince Saud al Faisal went back to the original rules that Saudi officials were prohibited from marrying non-Saudis and therefore our approval must come from the King himself. Again it took months but thanks to God and some special people, we finally got our approval.

Our approval coincided as well with the opportunity to finally shift from Imam University to our villa within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Housing Compound. Just because we finally obtained official approval for our marriage does not mean though that there was the immediate acceptance from Saudis and/or expats around us. There was still a stigma of not knowing how to accept Abdullah and I as a mixed couple and particularly in professional or semi-professional circles.

Our love for each other persevered and we made a comfortable life for ourselves. I’ve written this post more to serve as an introduction to the bigger story on the implications of mixed Saudi marriages. For Abdullah and I, the initial move to Saudi Arabia was not only fraught with risk and danger but we also were going through our own feelings of adaptation and adjustment. He had been outside of his country for ten years and as an eldest son and head of the extended family returned to immense responsibilities. I was going through my own adjustments of being in a country where I had little control over what I could do or where I could go after having been accustomed to being an active career-oriented professional.

I would not recommend Abdullah and my actions for anyone but at the same time, yes I would do these same actions again if that it was it took to have my short life with Abdullah. And I realize that the risks he took with his career, his job and his family only highlight the love that he also felt in turn for me. May God Bless him as he rests in peace.

taraummomarsignature5