JEDDAH: ASMA AL-GHABIRI
Published — Wednesday 11 September 2013
Last update 11 September 2013 5:01 am
Foreign mothers of Saudi children have welcomed the decision of the Council of Ministers to grant them permanent residency status without having to find sponsors.
The decision, announced Monday, allows foreign wives, divorcees and widows access to health and education services available to Saudis. They will be able to work in the private sector as part of the Saudization program and the government will pay their residency fees.
Sahar Abd Al-Latif, an Egyptian, was happy when she heard the news. This 32-year-old mother has two Saudi daughters from a Saudi father. She now no longer has to give up her nationality to be with her family.
Sulafah Al-Sinari, a 40-year-old Lebanese mother, who has four Saudi children, was jubilant when she heard the news. She was forced to leave Saudi Arabia and her children when her Saudi husband divorced her.
“I’ve had to live away from my kids for about 10 years. I only saw them when they came to Lebanon. This decision is like a lifeline to me. Now, I can be with my children all the time,” she said.
Ibrahim Al-Abadi, an attorney and legal advisor, said the legal community has long awaited such a decision.
“They support the Saudi family and they relieve ladies, especially widows and divorcees, from having to find sponsors. Many families were needlessly separated. I sincerely hope the Council of Ministers issues similar decisions that unite the families that have non-Saudis as members,” he said.
Hussain Al-Sharif, head of the National Society for Human Rights in Makkah, said the decision “is a right step toward enhancing the rights of women who are married to Saudi husbands and who have Saudi children from them.
“We are still waiting for the procedural and implementation laws, since there are still many questions about non-Saudi wives whose marriage contracts are not in compliance with regulatory rules since they failed to obtain marriage permits,” he said.