Status of foreign women married to Saudis

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Al-Madina newspaper

THE Ministry of Labor and Social Development has been enforcing a decision that bans foreign wives of Saudi citizens from being employed in jobs allocated for Saudi women. Many columnists have written about this issue, criticizing the ministry’s policy.

The ministry then changed the statement and described such women as Saudis’ wives who have given birth to citizens or mothers of citizens and were given the opportunity to work. After a few months, the ministry returned to its previous stand on citizens’ foreign wives.

It also restricted newly Saudized jobs to Saudi women. As a result of this policy change, the happiness of foreign wives of citizens did not last long and pushed them to disappointment.

I hope the ministry would excuse me for taking up this issue, especially because of the presence of huge numbers of Saudi women applying for jobs. May be the ministry does not want to be accused of treating foreign wives of Saudis equal to Saudi women, and this is quite understandable.

My question is what we are going to do with citizens’ wives who chose to leave their original countries, follow our culture and traditions, breath our air, drink our water and eat what we eat? Are we going to keep them locked in homes without allowing them to work?

We should know that they have given birth to Saudis and may be they are in need of jobs to lead a decent life and support their families. It is unfortunate that these women are classified as housemaids on the Abshir website and have to pay for residency permits, visas and other services like other foreigners.

We should know that like Saudi citizens these foreign women have various social requirements due to the inability of their husbands to support them because of poverty or unemployment. Some of them are divorced and there are others whose husbands are dead, and they will not be able to return to their home countries with their children for different reasons.

How are we going to treat these women?

I would like to suggest two steps to solve this problem. First, stop allowing Saudi men to marry foreign women and forgive them for previous marriages so as not to exacerbate the problem. Then grant citizenship to foreign women who married Saudis before the enforcement of the ban.

Let us stop the funny categorizations such as “the wife of citizen” or “mother of citizen", and help foreign wives of Saudis get full citizenship with all its rights and let them live among us like other Saudi women. There will be job opportunities for all these women if our intentions are good.

These foreign women who have given birth to Saudi citizens should be given priority in jobs over other foreign women who currently occupy a large number of jobs across the Kingdom.

Let us find a just solution for these marginalized foreigners who are wives of citizens to make them happy and solve multifarious problems facing them. We should know that their only mistake was to get married to Saudi men following the Shariah.


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