In theory? Nothing! Especially if he posses the qualities of a good “human being”, though it’s a subjective concept, the couple is compatible and gets along fine with each other. But, we don’t live in the perfect world or in a land where theories are always applied.
Unfortunately, we live in a far-from-perfect world. The right to marry a non-Saudi male becomes a difficult task filled with major consequences. But thankfully, there has been a lot of media exposure about the lack of choice in marriage. Maybe in the near future things will chance.
Growing up, I remember hearing about a Saudi female who married a US citizen. She was the talk of female gatherings. I wonder if they ever had the decency to say something in her face. The most comment I heard over and over again was “oh the poor thing! No Saudi wanted her so she married a foreigner”. The husband was African-American, which translated into: She couldn’t even find a white American to marry! Equality of Muslims, whether black or purple, was thrown out of the window. (But this is another topic)
This was the only time that I came across social implications of Saudi women marrying non-Saudis. A few years back a Saudi man, mid to late twenties, told me he was thinking of gathering his friends to beat up a non-Saudi for daring to date a Saudi girl. Apparently, this is a huge blow to his self-esteem, as a privileged male Saudi. To my knowledge the non-Saudi was not beaten up but this gangster’s attitude is not born out of nothing.
Marriage comes with a responsibility, especially towards children. Whatever the parents’ choices are will, sooner or later, reflect on the children. This is even more so when the parent is from another country or culture, and more specifically when the father is the one who is non-Saudi.
The law is clear on the aspect of citizenship, which is based on a paternal Jus sanguinis principle, Latin for “right of blood” and contrasts with jus soli (Latin for “right of soil”). People are born Saudi because their fathers are Saudi; a Saudi man needs permission to marry a non-Saudi female; she is eligible for citizenship after four years of marriage or when if she gives birth; and a Saudi woman needs permission to marry a non-Saudi. Her foreign husband will always carry a permit status, not automatically up for renewal, and her children will not inherent her citizenship or any of her assets (though I heard this has changed). By law, the children would be treated like Saudis in to education and priority in employment. But in our not-so-perfect world laws aren’t always fully applied.
This is what makes marrying a non-Saudi non-favorable. Laws don’t change easily. So until then, A Saudi woman should think twice before getting married in general and ten times before marrying a non-Saudi. This is especially for the Saudi girls who think life is just as in the movies “Love Conquers All” and life in the west is about having a good job and drinking coffee with your BFF at the local coffee shop or during lunch after shopping for designer clothes.
I think it is wonderful that such news is making headlines, but on the other hand, Saudi men are somewhat forgotten in this quest for rights to marry. It is true that they still have it better than their female citizens but at the end of the day we live in a society where a family is judged by the individual’s actions. In many tribal families, for a man to take a non-Saudi wife is such a big ordeal that his sisters might not get marriage proposals as a result of his “holy union”. Again the female is the victim. For a man to take a non-Saudi wife is an indicator that he was rejected by Saudi families for health or moral reasons and so the family becomes unsuitable to have marital ties with….
Marriage is a complex issue in Saudi Arabia.