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Saudi Arabia grappling with the surge in temporary marriage

Women in Burkas screening a wedding dress (File photo: Reuters)

The Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awaser) has warned Saudi citizens against engaging in any temporary marriage contracts abroad.

Speaking to Al-Riyadh newspaper, Tawfiq Abdulaziz Al-Suwailem, chairman of the board of directors, said the society works with the ministries of social affairs and foreign affairs as well as Saudi missions abroad to crack down on Saudis who enter temporary marriages.

“There should be legislation and extensive media coverage of such marriages arranged by brokers outside the country. Saudi men should realize the consequences of these marriages. Unfortunately, over the past 10 years, these types of marriages have spread and are out of control. They have been called tourist, summer and common-law marriages and they all have one common thing: they’re temporary and the disengagement ends with a divorce,” Al-Suwailem said.

Causes

There are several reasons behind the surge in temporary marriages among Saudi men traveling abroad such as the affluent lifestyles many citizens enjoy, high dowry demands by Saudi parents and the high costs associated with marriages in general.

Another major reason is the poor economic situations in foreign countries, which makes it easy for Saudis to have a low-cost temporary marriage.

The fact that a number of fatwas have been issued by various scholars permitting temporary marriages has also contributed to the phenomenon.

“Many Saudis don’t realize the consequences of their actions until it is too late. Besides, starkly different cultures and traditions can be an obstacle to the success of these marriages,” Al-Suwailem explained.

Of the people seeking temporary marriages, the majority are elderly men, many of whom are unable to find a Saudi woman willing to marry them.

Young men with limited income come next.

For them, temporary marriages abroad are a cost-effective alternative to marrying in the Kingdom.

Then there are men who are already married but want another wife to enjoy their vacation with.

Finally young men who travel abroad either to study or enjoy a vacation choose to get married.

The fact that many men engage in temporary marriages does not mean that all marriages between Saudi men and non-Saudi women are unsuccessful.

If serious and dedicated to making the marriage work, unions between Saudi men and foreign women can last a lifetime, especially if both couples come from similar backgrounds and hold similar values.

An increasing number of Saudi women, for various reasons, are putting off marriage until their 30s or 40s.

The latest statistics put the number of women who are delaying marriage at around 1.5 million and this number is expected to go up this year, according to Al-Suwailem.

“Poverty and unemployment among young men are two important reasons why the majority of men do not want to get married to Saudi women. Another reason is most young women who have passed 30 refuse to be second wives. Some women put education and work above marriage and prefer to delay marriage at their own risk. Let’s not forget that some fathers are greedy and demand high dowries when someone proposes to their daughters,” he said.

Airport brokers

A group of citizens Al-Riyadh daily interviewed claimed most young Saudi men who travel to certain countries are targeted by marriage brokers the moment they step out of the airport.

The brokers even target men who appear to be religious and try to convince them to engage in temporary marriages.

The citizens called on any Saudi planning to travel abroad to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website and read the warnings regarding temporary marriages.

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Last Update: Saturday, 18 April 2015 KSA 14:32 - GMT 11:32
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Saudi Arabia grappling with the surge in temporary marriage
The Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad has warned Saudi citizens against engaging in any temporary marriage contracts abroad
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