Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rights of Children born to Saudi mothers and non-Saudi fathers

Neither of us will ever know the plight of those who face an identity crisis. It is like being an unwanted with nowhere to go. Here, I refer to the plight of those children who are born to Saudi mothers and non-Saudi fathers.  Saudi women have lately shown preference to marry non Saudi men. In 2013, over 1,900 marriages of Saudi women to non-Saudi men were registered by Saudi courts. There is a rising trend among Saudi women to seek educated non-Saudi men for marriage, who are less dictated by traditional Arab customs like Turks, Indians, Pakistanis, Syrians, and Americans etc.

Being a child of a Saudi mother and a foreign father has its own set of challenges, nevertheless, the problems faced are manifold if the child is born to a foreign man and a Saudi woman.  Biologically, the child has his Saudi mother’s blood running through his veins and half of his DNA is of Saudi origin, yet, the child is not accepted as a Saudi citizen. Sad cases of Saudi women living through unhappy marriages with abusive non Saudi men aren’t unheard of. These women fear losing their children if they file for a divorce because their children don’t have Saudi citizenship and can be deported from the country with their father. Saudi men can transfer nationality rights to their non-Saudi wife and children but Saudi women cannot even call her child a Saudi because her husband is not a citizen of the Kingdom.

The child does not have basic right to a Saudi passport and citizenship. The hurdles they face in finding scholarship and educational opportunities and while traveling to other countries are tremendous. It is worth noting here that lack of educational opportunities for such children can result in loss of bright talent for the country. These children often have the potential to grow up and contribute to their country’s prosperity. Alas, this is only possible if such children are treated as Saudi citizens and are given these rights. Giving them these rights will instill feelings of patriotism for their homeland and they will rise for their country’s success.

In April 2014, the Saudi government took a positive step forward to address the plight of some of these children. According to statements issued by the passport department, children born to expatriates and Saudi women will be given their due rights as Saudis for work, education and medical purposes. Moreover, they will also be allowed to reside and work in the private sector. Even more delightful is the news that expatriates who have married Saudi women will also be allowed to reside in the country based on their wives’ sponsorship, provided their marriage contract had been approved by local authorities. Things are going in positive direction and we can expect much more in the future under the leadership of the new King.

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