Saudi Arabia: Shoura Council rejects proposal to ease Saudi marriages to foreigners

Arab News
The Shoura Council yesterday rejected a recommendation to simplify regulations governing Saudis marrying non-Saudis.
However, a council session, chaired by its new Vice President Bandar Al-Hajjar, approved other recommendations submitted by Talal Al-Bakri, chairman of the council’s Committee for Social, Family and Youth Affairs.
Hajjar rejected the proposal as the council’s 108 members were equally split over a need to simplify the regulations. Opponents of the proposal said changes would only exacerbate the problem of spinsterhood in the Kingdom. “Such recommendations would greatly increase the number of Saudis marrying foreigners while we are fully aware of the complications that such marriages create,” said Abdullah Al-Dosary, a council member who voted against the proposal.

Supporters say a good number of such marriages involve old and disabled Saudis, while the young and able find it difficult to marry non-Saudis. They say human relationships have no national boundaries and cross-border marriages would help foster positive ties with non-Saudis. “Marriage is not a political or commercial relationship but is an intimate personal bondage between two humans. Problems arising in such relationships can never be solved by a ban but by tackling them with reason,” said Abdullah Al-Fify.

The council approved other recommendations submitted by the committee. These included setting up of special sections in Saudi missions abroad to deal with the non-Saudi children of Saudi citizens. Several members opposed the clause, arguing that a problem that affects only 465 families in 11 countries did not warrant the opening of special sections in all Saudi embassies.

“Opening new sections would only unnecessarily increase administrative expenses,” said Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al-Mayman.

Abdul Rahman Al-Yami said the new sections should have full authority to take decisions on all related issues. Other recommendations endorsed by the council included social insurance coverage for children of Saudi men living abroad, and the need for Saudi fathers to arrange citizenship for children born to foreign wives and for Saudis who are not in a position to support their children to approach charities that take care of Saudi families abroad.

11 November 2008

Source: Arab News