Friday, January 22, 2010

Saudi/non-Saudi Marriage Permission: Stellar News!

Regular commentator Add*, who is on a roll with blog suggestions on Comments, and on the lowered ages for Saudi/non-Saudi marriages,  forwarded this great article from Arab News, and provided my  subtitle of "Stellar News!".  Although Arab News is the only English language news source to report on this so far, it quotes the Al-Riyadh Arabic daily. The Saudi government, as detailed in a proposed revision to the laws governing marriage between Saudis and non-Saudis--laws not revised in the past 38 years--is relaxing requirements for Saudi/non-Saudi marriage permissions in a number of ways relevant to all concerned, and to some personal stories told in posts and comments on Chez Chiara, in particular.

First the Arab News articleKingdom drafts revised marriage law, which bears posting in full:

Kingdom drafts revised marriage law
P.K. Abdul Ghafour | Arab News

JEDDAH: The government is set to relax regulations governing the marriages between Saudis and non-Saudis. A revised draft law prepared by the Interior Ministry and the Cabinet’s Committee of Experts allows government ministers, judges, Shoura members and students on foreign scholarships to marry non-Saudi women.
The new law, which replaces the old one issued 38 years ago, should be passed by the Council of Ministers. According to Article One, Saudis who are allowed to marry non-Saudis include ministers, members of the judiciary and diplomats at the Foreign Ministry.
Other beneficiaries of the law are: Employees of the Royal Court, the crown prince’s court, the Council of Ministers, the National Security Council, and members of the councils and organizations chaired by the king and the crown prince, Al-Riyadh Arabic daily said.
Staff at the Ministry of Defense and Aviation, the Interior Ministry, the National Guard, the Royal Guard and the General Organization for Military Industries including military and civilian officers as well as members of the Commission for Investigation and Public Prosecution, Customs staff and all students studying abroad under the government’s scholarship program are also allowed to marry non-Saudi women.
“The above-mentioned Saudis are allowed to marry non-Saudis including GCC women after receiving permission from higher authorities,” says Article One of the revised draft law.
Article Two allows Saudi men and women to marry GCC citizens. Saudi men can marry the daughters of Saudi women and non-Saudi men. But those who propose marriage should not be from categories mentioned in Article One.
Paragraph Two of Article Three says a Saudi can marry a non-Saudi woman born in the Kingdom to non-Saudi parents. However, the law insists that the woman should have a valid resident permit and birth certificate issued by Saudi authorities. Here also the man proposing should not be from the categories mentioned in Article One.
A Saudi woman is allowed to marry a non-Saudi man born in the Kingdom if his mother is Saudi or even both parents are non-Saudis, on condition that the man should have a valid resident permit and birth certificate issued by Saudi authorities. He should have lived in the Kingdom for not less than 15 years, but is not allowed to propose to women in the categories mentioned in Article One.
Saudi applicants who do not come under the above-mentioned articles should obtain the permission of the government to marry non-Saudis. The marriage must comply with Shariah regulations. Non-Saudi men and women intending to marry Saudis should be free from certain diseases and should not be among those listed as unwanted in the Kingdom.
The law authorized specialized courts in the Kingdom to certify such marriage contracts after making sure that they follow the conditions and regulations specified in the law. Saudi missions are given the authority to certify marriages taken place outside the Kingdom.
The Interior Ministry has been given the authority to inform higher authorities if any violations are found and such cases would be taken to specialized courts. Violators of the law would be fined not more than SR100,000.
Violators will also be banned from receiving loans given by Saudi lending organizations and government grants during the period of marriage. The court can stop implementation of the punishment if convinced about the convicts’ special situation. The interior minister will issue the executive regulations for this by-law.

Summary and Discussion

Article One, expands the category of Saudis who are allowed to marry non-Saudis including GCC women, ie, it removes prohibitions previously in place on certain Saudis who hold public office.

Those now allowed to marry  include ministers, members of the judiciary,  diplomats of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  Royal Court employees, members of the Crown Prince's court, the Council of Ministers, the National Security Council and members of councils and organizations which are chaired by the King or the Crown Prince.

They also include: staff at the Ministry of Defense and Aviation, the Ministry of the Interior, the National Guard, the Royal Guard and the General Organization for Military Industries. The latter includes military and civilian officers. Members of the Commission for Investigation and Public Prosecution, and Customs staff are among those who are positively affected by this draft law.

"[All] students studying abroad under the government’s scholarship program are also allowed to marry non-Saudi women."

Article Two allows Saudi men and women to marry GCC citizens. Saudi men can also marry the daughters of Saudi women and non-Saudi men, ie, those not previously considered Saudi for this purpose. In this case though, the Saudi men must not be in the categories mentioned in Article One, ie there are restrictions for the Saudi man in government employ, including students on government scholarship about marrying the daughters of Saudi women and non-Saudi men who are GCC citizens.

Paragraph Two of Article Three A Saudi can marry a non-Saudi woman born in the Kingdom to non-Saudi parents. In this case, the Saudi man is not a government member or employee, or a student abroad on government scholarship; and, the woman has a valid resident permit and birth certificate issued by the Saudi government.

A Saudi woman is allowed to marry a non-Saudi man born in the Kingdom if his mother is Saudi or even both parents are non-Saudis. The Saudi woman must not be a government member or employee, or a student abroad on a government scholarship, as in the categories specified in Article One. The non-Saudi man must have a valid resident permit and birth certificate issued by Saudi, and must have resided in the KSA at least 15 years.

In these cases the regular marriage permission process for Saudi/Saudi marriages applies, including Shariah law,  medical testing, and not being in legal difficulties with the government. Specialized courts in the KSA will be allowed to legalize these marriages. Saudi missions abroad, ie Saudi Embassies and consulates abroad, will also be able to legalize these marriages.

In all other cases, the marriage permission process for Saudi/non-Saudi marriages applies.

Violations of these laws will be punished accordingly.

So stellar news indeed--for Add, Ellen and M, and others whose marriage permission processes are started or about to start. It is especially good news for those in the most common scenarios: students on government scholarship; and Saudis marrying those born and raised in the Kingdom but not Saudi citizens, as was the case for Aziz, told here and here,  who has been so helpful to others.

It takes some of  the strain off of  Saudi/non-Saudi relationships not yet decided on marriage, as that of  Diana, told here; and perhaps would have modified the relationship of Sad Girl, as her Saudi love's joining the military for financial reasons would no longer be an impediment according to Article One.  However, as she told us especially in her comments on that post, and as Consumed by Love experienced, family permission can be more formidable than governmental permission; and the willingness of a partner in the West to live as if married can end with the decision to move back to Saudi--one that may have been pre-formed.

This is also good news, for the not yet ready but eventually will be; and the expat children born and raised in Saudi, as described by NidalM in his 2 part personal essay, here and here.( Hopefully no Aunties are reading)

It would have facilitated the marriage of non-Saudi Sid Ahmed to his Saudi wife; and may be good news for the future husband of Baby Ameena --after they both turn 18, as is being suggested by a new Saudi initiative on the marriage laws, an initiative much to the relief of Abu Abdullah, and Umm Abdullah, I'm sure.

Last, but definitely not least, it is a boon to Saudi women who may wish to marry a non-Saudi; and to their children, as the marriages of the children of Saudi mothers and non-Saudi fathers will have an easier time of marrying a Saudi, if they so choose.

I hope that this law passes as it is expected to, and soon.  I also hope that this revision, along with the lowering of age requirements for Saudi/non-Saudi marriages, herald more changes toward facilitating Saudi/non-Saudi marriages. Such changes would bring the marriage permissions of non-Royal Saudis wishing to marry non-Saudis more in line with the Royal Saudi/non-Saudi patterns of intermarriage, as described in a series of posts, under the Category  Royal Saudi/non-Saudi Marriages and Their Families (see sidebar RoyalSaudi/non-Saudi).

*Add has kindly promised Chez Chiara readers his own Saudi/non-Saudi marriage permission story when his "odyssey" has ended. :) :) :) It seems he doesn't want to name his first borns Chiara and Chiaro. :(  However, he could of course see the light and do both. :) Hmmm, baby naming laws in Saudi...I feel a post coming on.

What are your reactions to this proposed legislation?
What other changes to Saudi marriage law would you welcome?
Does this impact you or anyone you know of? How?
What are the social and political underpinnings and implications of these legal revisions?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?

Addendum: Another regular reader, Khalid (a Saudi engaged to a Saudi), sent the original Al Riyadh article via email. For those of you whose Arabic reading skills are better than mine (name, Allah, and the Coca-Cola sign) here it is. The rest of us can be amused by the Googlish. He also said that high enough wasta works to speed up the process.

«الرياض» تكشف عن تفاصيله.. وجهات رسمية تدرس إقراره
تنظيم مقترح يسمح بزواج الوزراء والقضاة وموظفي الخارجية وأعضاء الشورى وهيئة التحقيق والطلاب المبتعثين.. بغير السعوديات
الرياض عبدالسلام البلوي

أجازت التعديلات المقترحة من قبل وزارة الداخلية وهيئة الخبراء على مشروع تنظيم زواج المواطن بغير سعودية وكذلك المواطنة بغير سعودي للوزراء ومن في مرتبتهم وشاغلي المرتبة الممتازة، والمرتبتين الخامسة عشرة والرابعة عشرة وأعضاء السلك القضائي وموظفي وزارة الخارجية الدبلوماسيين والإدارين ،أجازت لهؤلاء الزواج بغير سعودية ، كما أجازته لموظفي الديوان الملكي وديوان سمو ولي العهد ومجلس الوزراء ومجلس الشورى والمراسم الملكية ومجلس الأمن الوطني وأعضاء مجلس الشورى خلال فترة عضويتهم وأعضاء المجالس والهيئات التي يرأسها الملك أو ولي العهد وكذلك منسوبي وزارة الدفاع والطيران ووزارة الداخلية والحرس الوطني والحرس الملكي والمؤسسة العامة للصناعات الحربية سواء أكانوا من العسكريين أو المدنيين إضافة إلى أعضاء هيئة التحقيق والادعاء العام وموظفي الجمارك وجميع الطلاب الذين يدرسون في الخارج المبتعثين من قبل الحكومة .

ونصت المادة الأولى من التنظيم الذي تدرسه الجهات المختصة تمهيداً لعرضه على مجلس الوزراء لإقراره والعمل فيه بدلاً من " تنظيم معالجة حالات زواج السعودي بغير السعودية أو زواج السعودية بغير السعودي الصادر بقرار مجلس الوزراء عام 1393 " ، نصت المادة الأولى على أن للفئات المذكورة الزواج بمن لا يحمل الجنسية السعودية بما في ذلك مواطنو مجلس التعاون وذلك بإذن من المقام السامي .

وتسمح المادة الثانية مع مراعاة المادة (الأولى) من هذا التنظيم للسعودي والسعودية بالزواج من مواطني دول مجلس التعاون لدول الخليج العربية، كما يسمح للسعودي بالزواج من المولودة من أم سعودية وأب غير سعودي على أن لا يكون راغب الزواج من الفئات المنصوص عليها في المادة (الأولى) من هذا التنظيم، ونصت الفقرة الثانية من المادة الثالثة على أنه يسمح للسعودي بالزواج بغير السعودية المولودة في المملكة من أبوين غير سعوديين بشرط أن تكون لها إقامة نظامية، وشهادة ميلادها صادرة من سجل المواليد في المملكة طبقاً لنظام الأحوال المدنية، وأن لا يكون راغب الزواج من الفئات المنصوص عليها في المادة (الأولى) من هذا التنظيم، ويسمح للسعودية بالزواج بغير السعودي المولود في المملكة من أم سعودية أو أبوين غير سعوديين، بشرط أن تكون له إقامة نظامية، وشهادة ميلاده صادرة من سجل المواليد في المملكة طبقاً لنظام الأحوال المدنية، وعاش في المملكة مدة لا تقل عن خمس عشرة سنة، وأن لا تكون المراد الزواج منها من الفئات المنصوص عليها في المادة (الأولى) من هذا التنظيم.

وأرجع التنظيم المقترح لوزير الداخلية أو من يفوضه الموافقة على طلبات زواج السعوديين بغيرهم في غير الحالات المنصوص عليها في المواد السابقة من هذا التنظيم ، واشترط أن يكون الزواج متوافقاً مع الضوابط الشرعية، وأن يكون غير السعودي وغير السعودية الراغبين في الزواج بالسعوديين خاليين من الأمراض المانعة من الزواج، وأن لا يكونا من غير المرغوب فيهم في المملكة، وأسند التنظيم الجديد المحاكم المختصة في المملكة مهمة توثيق أو عقد أي زواج سعودي بغير سعودية أو العكس بعد التأكد من انطباق الشروط والضوابط الواردة في هذا التنظيم عليهما على أن تتولى الممثليات السعودية في الخارج هذا الاختصاص قبل توثيق عقد الزواج إذا كان عقد الزواج سيكون في الخارج.

وحدد التنظيم وزارة الداخلية كجهة مسؤولة عن الرفع إلى المقام السامي عن أي مخالف من الفئات المنصوص عليها في المادة (الأولى) من هذا التنظيم، للنظر في إحالته إلى المحكمة المختصة، أو اتخاذ ما يراه في شأنه، على أن تنظر المحكمة المختصة في توقيع غرامة مالية على المخالفين لأحكام هذا التنظيم لا تزيد على (١٠٠) ألف ريال تودع في حساب جاري باسم مؤسسة النقد العربي السعودي لمصلحة وزارة الشؤون الاجتماعية، وتخصص لدعم الجمعيات المتخصصة في مساعدة الشباب السعودي على الزواج ، أوحرمانه من الاستفادة من قروض الصناديق والتسليف والمنح الحكومية خلال مدة الزواج ،أو العقوبتين معاً ، وللمحكمة إيقاف تنفيذ العقوبة إذا رأت من أخلاق المحكوم عليه أو ماضيه أو سنه أو ظروفه الشخصية أو غير ذلك ما يبعث على القناعة بوقف التنفيذ، وأسند التنظيم لوزير الداخلية إصدار القرارات اللازمة لتنفيذ هذا التنظيم بما يطابق أحكامه ويحقق أغراضه .

!شكرا خالد

   !ثم نفس الأسئلة على النحو الوارد أعلاه


ellen557 said...

I'd be happy *if* it actually happens. M finishes his degree in like 4 months though so I can't see it helping us in any way, unless they decide to be efficient for a change!

SadGirl said...

Ohh sounds like good news! But I'm cautious about being too happy about it. Is it an early April fools joke? Why the sudden change? I could mention this to my Saudi, but at this point it may be too family permission is important above all else. But who knows about the future? I hope they implement this new law as soon as possible. It will change many things. However, I a security mesaure...why would they all of a sudden allow military officers to marry non-Saudis? It's confusing to me and requires more research. But I was really happy to read this article. Although I wish it was published 5 or 6 months would probably have made a big difference.

Add said...

I admit, I too am a bit apprehensive over the fact that laws over here take time to pass, if at all they do.

However, what's keeping my hopes up is the fact that 2 weeks ago Saudi Gazette revealed that the Interior ministry is working on a new law on Saudi and non-Saudi marriages; and this seems to be a timely follow up on the first article.

The 2 articles seem to validate each other. And if the time frame between the two articles is any indication, the new law maybe implemented sooner than we all expect it to. :)

Let us pray that it's not an early April fool's joke and that we get a nice surprise very very soon!

Add said...


They are not going to simply allow millitary officers marry non-Saudis.

The new law will allow such category of people the opportunity to apply for permission to get married. They will still need approval from the Interior Ministry. Which can easily be a 'No' if the MOI is not satisfied.

In the other scenarios, such permission process will be eliminated. The regular procedure of simply submitting a request at the specialized marriage courts (or missions outside of KSA) and getting the marriage contract signed will apply.

Chiara said...

Ellen--yes I am cautiously optimistic, especially because the article leaned towards the idea that the next level of approval was likely to happen and that the King is behind it. However, I am less knowledgeable about Saudi newsspeak so that is less valuable than Add's cautious enthusiasm. On the other hand, the process can take years as it is now, so the change may still be faster.

Sad Girl--nice to see you back commenting! It is true that it is hard to know in retrospect how much this would have changed things. However, it would be nice to be clearer why a relationship was derailing and better, imho, for it to be for personal rather than governmental reasons. On the other hand, with less stress a relationship would be less likely to derail. I was interested to read that there is more caution about military officers from the GCC although it makes sense security wise, and as Add said, there are other steps and security measures in place.

Add--thanks again for the tip off, and now for your 2 comments here. I didn't realize about the Saudi Gazette article, but that does seem to reinforce the reality of the law, and that it will more likely come to pass. My sense was that it will be soon--soon being relative to bureaucratic/ political time and to the time required now to get the marriage permission, if one ever does. Here's hoping!

Add said...

Here's the article from 10 days ago that pointed out that there were official talks to redraft the marriage law.

NidalM said...

You're right Chiara, as a child of an expat growing up here for over 15 years, this law does affect me directly. Or does it?

I dont think this will lead to a torrent of saudi/non-saudi weddings. There still a number of issues that would need to be adressed.

As with most laws in Saudi, we can safely assume even this will be selectively enforced.

Secondly, social pressures would still limit from the majority of Saudis from taking this up. While the younger generation and Saudis as individuals tend to be quite liberal, herd mentality tends to lean more towards xenophobia.

Finally, an issue that has yet to be adressed is the case of children born to saudi/non-saudi unions. Wouldnt decreeing that the children of such marriages will not be saudis simply dilute culture further? For some reason I keep thinking of Harry Potter, with the pure blood wizards and the muggle-born 'mud bloods' ;P

Chiara said...

Add--thanks for the link. Apparently there are denials in the Arabic papers that this is true, The plot thickens, and becomes an unsavoury stew. :(

From Al Watan:

الصفحة الرئيسية الأخبار

توضيح من هيئة الخبراء بشأن الزواج من غير السعوديات

نفت هيئة الخبراء ما نشرته إحدى الصحف من أنها أنهت دراسة في شأن السماح للوزراء والقضاة والعسكريين بالزواج من غير السعوديات، وأكدت أن هذا الخبر لا أساس له من الصحة، وأنه لم تجر أي دراسة لتعديل أوضاع هذه الفئات بالنسبة لهذا الموضوع.

Googlish Edited to a semblance of English:

Home News

Clarification from the Panel of Experts on the marriage of non-Saudi

The Panel denied the report published by a newspaper that it had ended the study that would allow the ministers, judges and military personnel to marry a non-Saudi, and stressed that this story is unfounded, and that there had not been any study to modify the conditions of these groups for this topic.

Hmmmm. All results of further news searches on the topic are welcome.

Susanne said...

So is it true or not true? Ah, this has to be SO aggravating for individuals/couples involved. :-S

single4now said...

Oh that's sad. Good news followed by bad news of denial of the new law. I wonder what the reality is.

Chiara said...

NidalM--your comment just popped up! Excellent comment. If and when it happens, it will affect you if and when you want to marry a woman with Saudi nationality. Or so it would seem.

Good points about selective enforcement if it is passed as law; and the social pressure preventing a rush on Saudi/non-Saudi marriages. As I often say, the law says you may, but that doesn't guarantee your mother (or any other family member) will approve.

It seems to me the first hurdle in a mixed relationship is one's own internalized ideas; the second is the family and the ability to assert one's wishes and have them respected along with the ability to respect one's adult child's wishes; and the 3rd is the socio-legal aspect. The law may be the least of one's problems in the face of family opposition.

One of the things I thought was promising in this proposal was granting certain rights to the children of Saudi/non-Saudi marriages about their own ability to marry Saudis. To me this was a start on women being able to transmit Saudi citizenship, or at least some rights. To my knowledge no majority Muslim country allows maternal transmission of citizenship, which has had me in many a discussion with an enraged Moroccan woman married to a non-Moroccan Muslim.

I take your point about this being a way to entrench non-citizenship for longterm expats or the born and raised in Saudi for generations, but maybe it is also a first step.

One of the impacts of Saudization might be to "normalize" the situation of those living in Saudi for a long time/ generations, while sending others "back home" and ending importation of guest workers.

On the other hand, as you say, this may be the beginning of the creation of a half muggle underclass (like my use of the term after I googled all things Harry Potter? LOL :) :P)).

In my more magical realism/ other authoritarian regimes/ schemes of the government introducing ideas to the populace including the Canadian one moments, I wonder if this denial of the plan is to stave off opposition until it can be implemented. Wishful thinking perhaps.

Susanne and Single4now--yes potentially very :( after joyous. But, I would be interested to see what the news in both languages says about this. Hopefully we can keep each other on top of it here.

Imperfect Stepford Wife said...

Chiara ~ Salam alaikum and Bounjour, j'espere que vous allez bien aujourd'hui.

It's a satrt. The only thing is that it takes forever to make and change laws.

I don't have conversations with anyone about this, I only know from your blog and other members who share what is going on.

Paternalism at its best in my humble opinion.

Chiara said...

ISW--wasalam et bonjour! Je vais très bien merci, et vous? On peut se tutoyer?

Well, to invoke another language "piano, piano se va lontano" or slowly but surely is longer lasting.

Evolution is usually a more permanent change than revolution and without all the backlash, reign of terror, sturm und drang. LOL :)

Le Croyant said...

"To my knowledge no majority Muslim country allows maternal transmission of citizenship"

Pakistan does.

In fact, it's the only Muslim country that grants one it's citizenship solely on the basis that one is a Muslim. Just like Israel does for Jews.

Chiara said...

Le Croyant--welcome, and thank you for that informative comment. I didn't realize either aspect of religion and citizenship/nationality in Pakistan. It is good to know. Thanks!

I hope you will comment on older and newer posts that interest you.

Le Croyant said...


Even Saudi gives citizenships to children of Saudi Mothers & Non-Saudi fathers. But it's only for sons & they had to born in Saudia & never left the country till they were 18 or studied in any international schools. Once they turn 18, they can apply for their citizenships, takes abt a year to get them.

Many uncles married Saudis while my dad married a Yemeni hence I know abt this. My cousin sisters married Saudi citzens & were granted Saudi citizenship within a yr.

I felt more sorry for them as they were completely Saudi except for their dad's citizenship. They spoke only Arabic, knew only Saudi culture & yet were not Saudis for the longest time.

While I had identity crisis, it was only due to being born here... I went to India every year, studied in an International school & never went to Yemen so I had some sense of belonging to my India roots.

Saudi govt. truly doesn't understand the negative impact it rules has on children of such integrated Sauid/non-saudi families.

I am married to a Bahraini, my daughter is a Indian citizen like me as Bahrain doesn't give citizenship through mothers either. I hope my daughter doesn't grow up super confused like my cousins..

Chiara said...

Le Croyant--thank you for your further comment, which I found most interesting. I am sorry I am just getting back here now.

I was thinking primarily of the idea of nationality by birth on Saudi soil, but as you say there are mechanisms for acquiring Saudi citizenship, though they tend to be challenging, and not for the faint of heart (or insufficient in wasta).

Marriage permission to a Saudi is easier for some categories of non-Saudis than others, as has been made even more clear by the new legislative proposals.

Your own family mixes and experiences as well as your own are testimony to the challenges when legalities prevent one from feeling or fully enacting one's cultural identity.

I am glad you have commented on later posts as well, and look forward to further comments.

Thanks again!

Chiara said...

Le Croyant--ps I would love for you to contribute an interview/post on your own experiences of bicultural identities and that of your family members. I was looking for a contact email for you on your 2 blogs but found none. Please contact me at chiaraazlinquestion AT Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chiara and everyone, I was wondering if anyone heard anything new about this law (is it finally true or not)? Thanks for your help :)!

Chiara said...

Anonymous--Welcome, and thank you for your query. I haven't seen anything new in English but perhaps someone who reads Arabic has more information. I hope to address this in a post soon, and would appreciate any information anyone has! Thanks for asking!

Anonymous said...

hi can i privately communicate with u?

Chiara said...

Anonymous--Hello, please email me at the blog email address: chezchiara2 AT yahoo DOT com

I am the only person with access to that account, and I consider all emails private and confidential.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Anonymous said...

i just sent u an email. thank u chiara


Chiara said...

Jane-You are welcome! I have received and read it and will reply shortly.
I hope you will comment on other posts of interest to you. If you wish you can put "Jane" into the Name/URL option. No URL is required, just your name in the name box. Then your comments will read "Jane said...". :)


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