Expat marriage to Saudi national rules extended

Published:  3 Nov at 6 PM
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It’s not unusual for single expats relocating overseas on assignment to meet the love of their lives, but those looking to marry Saudi nationals should get ready for a very long wait before approval.

Westerners working in Saudi Arabia are no exceptions to the rule of falling in love, but marrying your chosen one is likely to take so long you’ll forget why you wanted to in the first place. The list of conditions has always meant years dealing with Arab bureaucracy, and it’s about to get even more difficult.

New laws governing expat marriages to Saudi nationals now include 17 more amendments which must be fulfilled before official permission is given. In addition to proving you’re not a criminal, taking medical tests for a range of disgusting diseases, negotiating the bride price and braving the local police station a good few times, the 17 carefully-described amended requirements are enough to put off even the most star-struck suitor.

The first stipulation to note is that your prospective Saudi bride must be aged between 30 and 55 years, and the age difference between yourself and your chosen one must not be more than 10 years, in order to avoid ‘misuse of Saudi women’! Even if you’re not in the first flush of youth and neither is your bride, she will have to sign away your possible citizenship rights and those of any children you may have.

Expat women thinking of marrying Saudi men don’t get it any easier, as they’ll not get citizenship either, and should perhaps take note that second wives are common in the kingdom. The rule on this is that if the first wife can’t have children and can’t do the housework, a second wife is permissible, giving a reasonably clear idea of why your beloved is thinking of marrying you.

Journeying still deeper into the realms of fantasy, if your love was were born to unknown parents, she can be as young as 27 years but, if you’ve served in the foreign military before you became an expat, you won’t be able to get married at all. Obviously, the best plan for expat men is to fall in love and marry before they arrive in the kingdom and, for women, to resist at all costs the obvious attractions of drop-dead gorgeous guys in white robes!
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