Saudi Arabia set to scrap male guardian rule for Saudi females studying abroad: Senior diplomat

The end of the male guardian rule is likely to encourage more Saudi women to apply for places in American universities. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 09 August 2019

Saudi Arabia set to scrap male guardian rule for Saudi females studying abroad: Senior diplomat

  • Ending the male guardian rule would encourage more Saudi women to apply for places in American universities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is poised to abolish the legal requirement for a male guardian to accompany females during scholarship periods abroad, a top diplomat has revealed.

Saudi Cultural Attaché to the US Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa told Arab News on Thursday that the Ministry of Education was set to scrap the mahram (guardian) clause but said the move was yet to be officially confirmed.

Ending the male guardian rule would encourage more Saudi women to apply for places in American universities, he said, especially those who had missed the opportunity for a scholarship because of the clause.

Many female students who travel to US educational institutions with a male guardian currently receive extra allowances to help cover rent and other expenses.

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In April 2019, the number of Saudi women studying abroad had reached 30,617, with the number of male students topping 55,440, according to the Saudi Ministry of Education.

If the changes take place, Al-Issa said it would be unlikely that housing payments would rise.

“I don’t think that there will be an increase in allowance for females. I also believe that being accompanied by a legal male guardian might be optional for them,” he added.

Under the planned new rules, female students already on university courses in the US with an accompanying male guardian will have the option to continue with the arrangement if they wish, said Al-Issa.

“In fact, the Saudi Cultural Mission is flexible and had exempted some students from the presence of the male guardian in the past, in case they face difficulties, especially for females who are completing their higher studies or those who have an official approval from their male guardians.”


Saudi Vision 2030 looks to the future but Iran’s ‘vision 1979’ is regressive: Prince Khalid

Updated 27 min 19 sec ago

Saudi Vision 2030 looks to the future but Iran’s ‘vision 1979’ is regressive: Prince Khalid

  • Deputy Minister of Defense said that Iran wants to export its revolution and has “an expansionist ideology”
  • In an interview with Vice Media, he said the country was the biggest threat to the region

JEDDAH: As the leadership of Saudi Arabia works, through its ambitious Vision 2030 project, to move the country and its people forward, Iran continues to follow its “vision 1979” in an attempt to push the region backward, according to Saudi Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman.
Speaking during an interview with Vice Media, he said: “We have…this great vision, Vision 2030, where we want to reform our economy, to basically uncap the potential in Saudi Arabia, to open new sectors in Saudi Arabia, and to have a prosperous country, and to move our citizens forward.
“To be able to do that, we need a stable, secure region, a prosperous region. We need to increase our economic cooperation with neighboring countries.”
Turning to the dangers the region is facing, the minister said: “I believe the biggest threats to the region, and to international security, is basically Iran: the Iranian regime and its proxies on one side, and Daesh, Al-Qaeda and terrorist organizations on the other side.
“We believe that they’re two sides of the same coin. They believe in the same concept; not necessarily exactly the same ideology, but they both do not believe in the sovereignty of nations, they both believe in a transnational ideological state, they both do not believe in international law, and sometimes they compete with each other and they fight each other. But when it comes to us, we’re the common enemy and they cooperate.”
Asked why the Kingdom is viewed as the common enemy, Prince Khalid said it is because “we are a force of stability, a force of peace, a force of prosperity in the region.”
He added that Iran wants to export its revolution: “Iran has an expansionist ideology. Iran wants other states in the region not to be partners, but to be under the Iranian expansionist project.”
Prince Khalid highlighted US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Kingdom in 2017, his first official foreign trip after taking office, as a significant moment not only for the Saudi Arabia but the entire Muslim World.
“The Saudi-US relationship is strong and it has been strong for seven decades,” he said. “This relationship started with President Roosevelt, who was a Democrat, and has been strengthening since then with different presidents of the United States, Democrats and Republicans.”
He pointed out that this close relationship has benefited both countries economically.
“So this is a continuation of this historic, strong relationship that has protected people from both countries on the security side, and also it has on the economic side created a lot of jobs and opportunities in both countries and helped the economy,” he said. “President Trump’s visit is an important visit to the Muslim world, and I believe that it is vital for the United States to have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world.”
The prince added that the speech Trump made during his visit highlighted the fact that the most common victims of terrorist groups are Muslims.
“I think the president’s speech on that visit was very encouraging to Muslim people to see,” he said. “He spoke about counterterrorism and he said that Daesh and the terrorist groups’ victims are mostly Muslims. And it’s very important for the Muslim people to hear the President of the United States mentioning this.”