New labor laws abruptly end honeymoon for interracial expat couples

Updated 09 November 2013

New labor laws abruptly end honeymoon for interracial expat couples

For many couples in the Kingdom, destiny brought them together, but the new labor laws now in force have plagued their future with uncertainty.
Families across the Kingdom have been affected by the crackdown, with several couples from the same country having to go back home because of legal problems. Yet for couples who are married interracially, life is proving even tougher.
They can neither live in the Kingdom nor can they secure visas to live in their spouses’ native countries.
Such circumstances, which are compounded by legal hassles and employment problems, are forcing many to desert their families and say goodbye to their wives from other countries, leaving them in a foreign country in distressing conditions.
For 45-year-old Sikandar Hayat from Pakistan and 35-year-old Yussira Kholdin from Indonesia, such a logistical trap almost threatened their family's stability.
Their trouble began when the amnesty period ended for visa violators. The couple was keen on settling down in Pakistan since both had failed to avail of the amnesty concessions.
Sikandar, a native of the Jhang district of Punjab, was working as a taxi driver in Jeddah.
He met his wife Yussira 14 years ago as she boarded his taxi upon arrival from Madinah after escaping from her employer.
Distraught and broke, Sikandar helped her on humanitarian grounds.
They were married in Jeddah, though not legally since Yussira is an illegal resident and marriage is not solemnized in the Kingdom without completing legal formalities.
The couple settled down with three children until the crackdown shattered their family haven.
They decided to move to Pakistan, but neither had legal documentation.
Sikandar told Arab News: “My family and I were literally in tears at the Pakistani Consulate when two young diplomats spotted us and enquired about our case. It is extremely difficult to obtain exit visas for Indonesian citizens and there would have been no way for our children’s documents to be processed, but one of the vice consuls pursued the case at the deportation center and completed our procedures.
“He helped me obtain a visa for my Indonesian wife. I was broke since I’d lost my job, but the Pakistan Consulate helped to provide tickets for my family.”
Expressing gratitude to the consulate, Yussira told Arab News: “I have been learning Urdu since the start of amnesty to adjust to life in Pakistan. I am happy that I will be living in my husband’s country.”


Cirque du Soleil heads to Saudi in special one-off show

Updated 11 September 2018

Cirque du Soleil heads to Saudi in special one-off show

  • More than 80 artists will take the stage at the King Fahd International Stadium for the show
  • About 250 costumes have been specially made to respect local traditions

MONTREAL: Cirque du Soleil will stage a show in Saudi Arabia for the first time later this month, the high-flying acrobatic troupe announced Monday.
The show will take place in the Saudi capital on Sept. 23 to coincide with the country's national day, public relations director Marie-Helene Lagace told AFP.
More than 80 artists will take the stage at the King Fahd International Stadium for the show, which will also be shown on Saudi state television. Cirque says it will be one of its biggest one-off productions ever.
About 250 costumes have been specially made to respect local traditions and conform to "the artistic standards for which we are known," Lagace said.
The announcement of Cirque du Soleil's appearance in Saudi Arabia was first made in Los Angeles in April, Lagace noted. But it was unclear whether the show would go on given the diplomatic tensions.
At the behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has reopened movie theaters and allowed women and men to attend some concerts together.