Expats have to pass some astonishing strict new tests if they want to marry in Saudi Arabia.
In a country with a notorious regime that severely represses the rights of women, the new rules make a mockery of marrying for love and instead demand Saudis tick a list of boxes and provide explanations of why they found romance with a foreigner.
The aim of the new measures would seem to be discouraging Saudi men and women from marrying someone from another country.
Rules for men wedding foreigners
For a Saudi man to marry a foreign woman, the couple have a succession of hoops to jump through, including:
- The man must be aged between 40 and 65 years old, have somewhere to live and earn at least £650 a month
- The woman must be aged 25 or older, but the age gap between her and her Saudi partner must not be more than 30 years
- If the Saudi man is still married at the time of applying to remarry, he must have a confirmation from an approved doctor that his current wife is infertile or unable to undertake ‘marital duties’
- For divorces, the man has to wait two years from the official annulment before he can remarry
- The rules bar the wife from applying for Saudi nationality
- The couple’s fingerprints and civil records must be handed to the authorities
Explaining why a couple should marry
The rules for Saudi women marrying foreign men are even stricter.
- The women must be aged between 30 and 55 years old with an age gap between the couple of no more than 10 years
- Women who are orphans, disabled or ‘unacceptable’ to Saudi men can marry foreigners from the lower age of 27
- The man cannot be married or have a previous marriage to a Saudi, neither can he have a criminal record or suffer from any infectious or genetic illness
- He cannot have served in a foreign army or be barred from entering Saudi Arabia
- The man must earn £1,085 a month and have somewhere to live
- The marriage does not come with Saudi citizenship for the foreign spouse or their children
The list carries on for both Saudi men and women:
The Saudi government keeps a list of foreign nationalities they are forbidden to marry, the foreign spouse must have a passport valid for a year, a Saudi residency visa and both partners must pass a security check.
If the marriage is approved, the couple will be granted a 12-month marriage visa.
Lastly, the Saudi partner must explain to the authorities why they want to marry a foreigner.