Tougher rules for Saudis marrying foreign women

Saudi men have been reportedly prohibited from marrying expatriate women from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad and Myanmar

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Saudi men wishing to marry foreigners now face tougher regulations. A report in Makkah daily quoted Makkah Police Director Maj. Gen. Assaf al-Qurashi as saying that Saudi men wanting to marry foreign women should first obtain the consent of the government and submit marriage applications through official channels.

The official said applicants should be over 25 and attach identification documents signed by his local district mayor as well as all other identity papers, including a copy of his family card. “If the applicant is already married, he should attach a report from a hospital proving that his wife is either disabled, suffering from a chronic disease or is sterile,” he said.

Al-Qurashi said divorced men would not be allowed to apply within six months of their divorce. He explained that the police receive the applications and forward them to the governorate for official approval.

The official said Saudi men have been prohibited from marrying expatriate women from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad and Myanmar.

According to unofficial statistics, there are about 500,000 women from these four countries currently residing in the Kingdom.

Official sources said Morocco has made it conditional for Saudis wishing to marry Moroccan women to provide clean criminal records. The sources said Moroccan authorities also require applicants to provide written consent from his wife if he is already married.

However the Makkah daily report leaves many questions unanswered: Why only women from the four mentioned nationalities have been put on the list and whether only expatriate women from these communities are targeted or the ban extends to women from the said countries as well. Secondly, Islam does not require men to have consent from their first wives to remarry, nor do they require a period between a divorce and the second marriage.

Recent media reports quoted Tawfiq Al-Swailem, chairman of Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad, or Awasser, suggested that marriages should be made simpler by reducing the exorbitant dowry often sought by the bride’s parents.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Aug. 5, 2014

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