Saudi Arabia: Issues of Marrying Abroad + Unmarried Saudi Women
JEDDAH - A summer programme is to be launched to educate young Saudis about the risks of entering into marriage abroad, according to Dr Tawfiq Al Suwailam, chairman of the Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awasir).
Recently, the society warned Saudis against marrying foreigners.
“There are several difficulties faced by Saudi children living abroad, such as social, economic, education and health problems. Sometimes the father simply vanishes from the scene and leaves the children with their mothers,” he said.
“We help such children by finding and certifying documents attesting to the legality of the marriage and also by helping the children to return to the kingdom and to integrate socially, so that they can become effective and productive citizens,” he added.
Through its summer awareness programme, Awasir is planning to alert young men to the problems involved in marrying abroad.
“Cross-cultural marriages can be difficult because of the differences in customs and traditions, which plays a major role in divorce. When couples split up, the biggest losers are the children who end up leading a miserable life, without a proper family and environment, which has a long-term effect on their lives and mental health,” Al Suwailam said.
“The awareness campaign will continue throughout the summer when there is a large increase in the number of Saudis travelling abroad. A range of studies are being conducted to assess the extent of Saudis marrying foreign women,” he said, and added that Awasir plans to complete studies on the increased number of unmarried women in the kingdom.
He explained that the society works in cooperation with the ministries of interior and foreign affairs and with the help of sociology and psychology professionals.
Al Suwailam said there is concern over the rising rate of unmarried Saudi women and the rise in the average age of marriage for Saudi girls and explained that Awasir is giving considerable attention to the issue through its welfare programmes for Saudi families abroad.
Awasir officials plan to visit 30 Arab and non-Arab countries this summer to inspect the conditions of Saudi families living abroad and to find ways to help them return to the kingdom through coordination with relevant authorities.
“In making field visits this summer, we want to measure the damage and negative effect of Saudis marrying abroad and the extent to which it contributes to the increase in the number of unmarried women in the kingdom,” he said.
Al Suwailam said that the reasons for the marriage of Saudis abroad are not clear.
People think that marriage in the kingdom is expensive which is why people prefer to marry abroad, but this is not true and “we are now doing a scientific study to learn the real reasons why some men prefer to marry abroad,” he said.
He added that greater interaction with the media was required to promote awareness of the problems of Saudi families living abroad.
“We do a thorough case study and send letters to the ministry of foreign affairs to enquire about the status, social and economic problems of these families and we provide them with assistance after making sure of their condition,” he said.