Why I want Saudi citizenship

It was recently announced that those wishing to apply for citizenship are now at the mercy of a particularly ruthless points system. On a practical level, for wives of Saudi’s to obtain citizenship, they must now…

1) Have had the marriage permission for 12 years (this does not include the years of marriage before gaining marriage permission from the Saudi government)

2) Had more than 2 children with their Saudi husband

3) Have at least a bachelors degree.

Now, personally I’m on zero. Even if I fulfil the first two requirements in the future inshaAllah, it doesn’t count for much because I don’t have a degree. And although I am aware that to protect my own future prospects in Saudi (not just to obtain citizenship) I should finish my degree, the reality is that I have attempted the university thing on three separate occasions so far, and I loathed it every time. So, the chances of my attaining a degree in the future, is rather slim especially if I’m in Saudi popping out all those kids as per the first two requirements! We must also consider those women who have been married to Saudi men and lived in KSA for years and have children but do not have a degree. They have more right than most to be granted citizenship and yet according to the new system – they cannot.

So now you may be asking why someone with a Western passport aka key to the door of opportunity, would exchange that for a Saudi one. Its appeal for myself and many others married to Saudis, is that it grants some degree of solid protection for the future inshaAllah.

Saudi visas, like most of the Arab Gulf countries, run on a sponsor system. Foreign women married to Saudi’s are also subject to this system. Until they obtain citizenship, which as we can see is neither quick nor easy, their Saudi husband must sponsor their iqama aka residency permit. The iqama is received upon entering Saudi Arabia after obtaining the marriage permission and marrying under their law. The iqama must be renewed every couple of years. This means that, should such a marriage end in divorce, your husband and his family can choose not to sponsor you so that you can stay. Without a sponsor, you will be deported. This is a problem if there are children involved because they will have Saudi citizenship and as such cannot be taken back to your country with you unless your husband gives written permission (very rare).

If  such a woman has been deported and is still unable to find a sponsor to live in Saudi, the only way to get back into the country on a long term basis is to gain employment there. Easy? Not so much. Applying for a job in Saudi Arabia from outside the country is extremely difficult if you do not have at least a bachelor’s degree and years of experience in a field of work. Employment opportunities for foreigners in KSA are concentrated in the medical and educational (teaching English as a foreign language) fields. Unfortunately, with the anticipated Saudisation of workplaces in KSA, it’s likely that in time it will only become more difficult.

However, it is possible to have someone other than your husband or in-laws sponsor you should the marriage go bad. I was recently advised of two separate cases where non Saudi women who were separated from their husbands gained not only sponsorship to remain in KSA with their children, but financial assistance from a Saudi prince mashaAllah may Allah reward him. Apparently Court appointed lawyers can also act as sponsors and I’m sure there are many other possible candidates.

If the woman cannot  find a job in Saudi Arabia, it is possible for her to visit her children in Saudi Arabia provided that her husband issues a ‘no objection’ statement.

For those women who are able to remain in Saudi Arabia  as well as those who wish to leave following divorce,  it is highly unlikely that they will gain custody of their children. It is not common for even Saudi women to get custody of their children and it is even less common for non Saudi women. Generally, the Saudi Courts grant the father custody and the wife visitation rights, however, there are cases where the woman didn’t even receive those. Needless to say, none of this reflects the way things should be done under Shari’a (Islamic) law. For a description of how child custody in the Shari’a works please see this link.

Ostensibly, the reason the government has been making the citizenship laws increasingly tough is that non Saudi women were marrying Saudi men simply to obtain citizenship and once they received it they would escape with their children and then the government would have to deal with distressed fathers begging them for help. And to that I say – where is the proof? We hear a lot of these sorts of claims by the Saudi government used to justify unreasonable laws and on the rare occasion evidence is provided, it is extremely unreliable. Two good examples of this are the laws which govern marrying foreigners and those against women driving.

Should all non Saudi wives, a large number of whom are Western women who have no reason to want citizenship other than to protect themselves and their family, be punished for the alleged crimes of what I suspect are a relative minority? Is this yet another attempt to punish and deter those foreigners who ‘lured in’ Saudi men? I suspect so.

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20 thoughts on “Why I want Saudi citizenship

  1. Masha’Allah this was an excellent post! May I please have permission to re-post it on FHWS?

  2. Eina says:

    My sentiments exactly. If I am going to live in another country where my husband has citizenship, I want it as well. Without it, I have little rights. And who is to say that there is always a happy ever-after?

    When I inquired about said citizenship, the consulate worker actually laughed and asked my husband “why would your wife want citizenship to our country?” and then he appeared concerned for my husband “What, you don’t plan to get citizenship to her country??” I interrupted and asked “I think that is more than a fair trade, don’t you?” with a big smile.

    Unfortunately, at this time, I can’t have citizenship to my husband’s home country. However, he has already gained his citizenship to mine. *inner child screams “NOT FAIR!*

    I do take some relief knowing that our child has citizenship to both the minute she is born. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

    • I know Eina, it’s extremely frustrating! May I ask which country your husband is from? I’m imagining it is another one of the GCC countries – am I right?

      • Eina says:

        Actually it is Iraq (Kurdistan to be exact)…. You have to be born in to an Iraqi in order to have citizenship. That is the only qualification. If you are born to non-Iraqis inside Iraq- still doesn’t count. And it only takes one parent. So, in this case, our child will be 100% Iraqi because of her father. She will be 100% US citizen because she is born in the US to US citizens (regardless of whether they were naturalized or born citizens).

        So easy for her! : ) She can’t even by my anchor baby in Iraq (if we were there). hahaha

      • Danii says:

        Oh wow, that’s really interesting! All the Arab countries (and I’m sure many non Arab ones also) give nationality only for those with a father from there.

        InshaAllah your daughter will reap the rewards of your ‘mixed’ marriage and not have to deal with any of the complications! I think the children are definetly the ones who benefit the most from (successful) mixed nationality marriages because they can enjoy and have a certain amount of access to each culture.

  3. […] Why I Want Saudi Citizenship By Danii The Camel And The Kangaroo 5 Feb 2012 […]

  4. Om Lujain says:

    This is a great post masha’Allah. I never wanted it b4, but after thinking about ir for a while.. I plan on it enshallah. il7amdlilah I am well above the requirements (point system).. so I will probably apply for it soon enshallah.

    • Danii says:

      JazakAllah khair 🙂 If you can do it – go for it insha’Allah you’ve got nothing to lose! Well, technically you lose your passport to your native country butttt I think we all know that’s not really how it goes down 😉

  5. Jean Sasson says:

    I am enjoying reading your posts! Best of luck with your Saudi citzenship!

  6. globalmuslim says:

    My husband and I are also in an ‘illegal’ marriage however I don’t care for Saudi citizenship. My husband has a friend who knows someone in the Government who could possibly help us or at least give us advice but so far we haven’t heard anything else from my husband’s friend. The only reason I ever wanted Saudi citizenship was so they would pay for my college education but husband doesn’t want me to give up my American citizenship as he wants his kids (if we ever have any-under US medical definition I’m infertile at 25 years old due to not achieving pregnancy within the first year of our marriage-we’ve been married 5 years now) to have access to the American medical care and education system. I hate the haraam law the Saudi Government has put into place. It sucks. If I had known all this before I would never have married a Saudi man and I told my husband so. 😦

    • D says:

      Alhamdulilah sis Allah is the best of all planners, for all we know the patience we show throughout these trials related to Saudi marriage could be the reason we are made to enter Jannah inshaAllah 🙂 so don’t be sad, everyone will get what they deserve in the akhira, including those who implement these cruel laws and inflict pain upon families through them. And don’t give up hope on getting pregnant – I have heard so many stories of those who tried to get pregnant for years, thought they were infertile but subhanAllah after IVF and everything they fell pregnant naturally. May Allah bless you with healthy, pious children and bless your marriage regardless of the presence of children or not – ameen!

  7. Jamila says:

    Hello, I just read your post about acquiring saudi citizenship. Im also the wife of a Saudi looking to get citizenship. Can i ask where you got your information. It seems pretty updated but 12 years is a time frame ive never heard. I thought it was 5 years of marriage or two kids. Can you please refer me to your sources? Id really appreciate it.

    • D says:

      Hi Jamila,

      Thanks for your comment, I apologise for my late response. This information was given in an article by Arab News which no longer seems to be found on their website but can be found here http://taraummomar.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/crown-prince-naif-approves-new-saudi.html. As for having to have had the permission for 12 years, you get one point for every year you are married with permission up to 12 points. So practically speaking you need to be married for 12 years to get all the points in that area. However, if you fulfill any of the other requirements such as having been born in KSA (which is 2 points) then you can cut down on the time you need to have been married. I hope the article makes it clearer for you inshaAllah.

  8. sarah says:

    how are you ? thanks for the your post i was enlightened in so many ways too.I am a wife of a saudi also looking forward get the citizenship.can you please help me if i got the my self assessments points correctly.I am married for 8 yrs,i have 2 kids and a bachelor degree so i sum it all 14 points,am i correct ? thanks a lot ! i will really appreciate your help .

  9. Ibraheem Hameed says:

    To hell with these merciless rules. Is Saudi Arabia heaven? Immagine these dirty rocky rules in such a racist land. I hate these silly rules!!

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