Saudi Arabia

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1. Posted by starlight2 (Full Member 108 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Okay so I was having lunch with my mother, aunt, and cousin when the topic of my cousins going to Saudi Arabia came up.

My uncle is currently living in Saudi Arabia, my aunt and him are and have been seperated for like 10 years now. He's a native of bangledesh[sp?] but moved to SA for some sort of work.

He now wants my cousins 3 girls .. 2 twins[15] & 17 to come visit him my aunt is letting them go this July. But my mother and aunt where saying how it sounds shady and what if my uncle tried to keep them in SA ... and how the woman are treated there.

Everyone was saying what a stupid idea it was, but just HOW stupid is it? If my uncle really did decide to keep them in SA would it be near impossible for my aunt to get them out??

2. Posted by Mancunion (Full Member 128 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

hmmm, strange one.

I heard of a case recently within SA where the male was given custody over the children, not sure if the same would apply here.

but if yo uare unsure about his motives then why take the risk, get him to visit the children where they are...

hope it works out for the children whatever they decide to do...:)

3. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3290 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

It is so not stupid.

By Saudi law the father naturally has custody over his daughters, it would be with 99.9999 % surety impossible for your aunt to get them out if your uncle decided to keep them there.

That your aunt has these fears shows that the possibility exists.

Stories where girls visited their fathers and their father's families in the ME for a holiday and did not return are plentiful. In the worst cases, they were forced to marry a total stranger. Their fathers had arranged marriages for them beforehand for a nice bridal price and the girls had no way out.

There are several reports available, the most well-known being "Sold: One Woman's True Account of Modern Slavery" by Zana Muhsen. (Available on amazon.) This book follows the story of 2 sisters who were stolen from their British home and sold into marriage and slavery by their Yemeni father. One sister escaped after 8 years. The other is still in Yemen. She and her children are considered the property of her husband and she has not been allowed to leave.

Now this is the worst case scenario, it may just as well be that your cousins return safe and sound at the end of the holiday. It all comes down to how much you can trust your uncle.

If you decide to let the girls go, I highly recommend that they are accompanied by a male family member who you can trust and who they cannot marry according to the Shariah. This person would be able to help your cousins to get out of the country if there was something afoul going on.

By Saudi law a woman may not travel without a male guardians permission. Naturally, this male guardian is your uncle. They are also not allowed to drive or use public transport.

The only potential rescue scenario from SA would involve a male relative with a drivers licence and a car. If he wasn't going with the girls in the first hand he would have to apply for a transit visa, driving a car he bought either in Jordan or UAE to the other side of KSA. The transit visa would give him 3 days to cross the country, find your cousins and get them out. Naturally this is hard to achieve, noteably for a non-muslim who doesn't speak Arabic. Especially the transit visa is one of the hardest visas to get in the whole world.

I can also recommend that you check out the child abduction pages on Saudi Arabia. (See - feel free to contact me if you got questions on Islamic family law. The flyer on the site is very very basic.)

If you are really concerned and you uncle claims that he only wants to see the girls again, offer him to come to the USA and that you would pay for his ticket and take care of his entry visa.

Another viable option is that you all fly to Dubai for a holiday and meet your uncle there. (Thinking about it, I believe that this is the best solution for all.) In July it is very hot in Dubai and package holidays are readily available at bargain prices. (At least from Europe, don't know about the USA.)

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 16, 2007, at 2:16 PM by t_maia ]

4. Posted by starlight2 (Full Member 108 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!


All these concerns are what MY mother and my other aunt [not the daughters mother] have ... yet my aunt [with the daughters] seems to be clueless to anything or any danger & we all know w/o her daughters she'd surly die since they're like her life. A year ago when he moved there he wanted them to come down but she said no, now all of a sudden they are going.

My mother and aunt where talking about that story of the girl who got abducted then her mother smuggled her out of my country.

As for getting a male to go with them, they have no brothers ... we have male cousins & uncles ... but none would go. My mother suggested that they meet in like London or something so that it's still be like a vacation but safe. My aunt is really hard headed sometimes so she wouldn't listen to anyone.

I'm just going to say now that my uncle can be a little ... hmm shady ... sometimes. For instance, we NEVER knew exactly what his career was, it was always "something in business" and we knew he made a lot of money [even after they seperated he's paying her house morgage] ... then he wouldn't tell anyone where he was living not even his wife just "somewhere in NY" ... then he decided to move to Saudi Arabia? .. God knows why .... even his family in Bangledesh told him to move back home to Bangedesh not to SA.

He even in the US has custody over the daughters since him and my aunt arn't technically divorced.

So the whole thing is shady ... but IDK how anyone can convince my aunt not to let them go in 2 months.

5. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Oh Starlight!!!
That is awful.:(
And u are right, to be worried.
T_Maia is telling it how it is, and without exageration.
Why the hell does your aunt have to be so stuborn?
And why does your uncle have custody of the children, in the US? Surely the parents have joint custody, or else your aunt has full custody?
I dont know, if this would work, but in your position where u feel u have reason to worry, contact the Child protection Services(I dont know if that is what it is called, in the US. It is to investigate reports of children in trouble and help them). I think it is worth a try. No need to tell your aunt u are talking with these people. She might get defensive, as parents often do, because they feel they are being accused of abusing their children, if the Child Protection Services get involved. Just secretly investigate, and involve your own mother, if u feel u can trust her to be discrete.
Good Luck, with this, and keep us posted. ;)


6. Posted by starlight2 (Full Member 108 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Oh yeah I meant they have joint custody like in any marriage. IDK if I can call Child Protective services since that's stictly for abused children and they are not being abused & CPS takes the kids away which would be stupid since as I said my aunt doesn't abuse them.

My aunt is stubborn and everyone's trying to convince her to tell my uncle to either come here or meet half way. Which I hope it turns out like that.

7. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

If u call the Child Protection Services, u dont even have to give your name, or anybodies. U can ask them for advise annonomously.
It is not just for abused children. People sometimes think that, because a lot of their work involves intervening, where children are being abused. Something very bad would need to be happening, for children to be taken away, from their parents.
Although, I think there is only a small chance, that they can help u, because the father has not actually abducted the children.

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 18, 2007, at 9:58 AM by Mel. ]

8. Posted by bobbybarb (Budding Member 9 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Dear Starlight,
I lived in Saudi Arabia and while the few Saudi citizens I actually came into contact with during the year I lived there were pleasant and courteous to me, I would NEVER let a couple of teen aged young ladies travel there alone.
From the time they go through customs at the airport (where the customs inspectors delight in embarassing women by looking through their underwear) and who will also refuse to allow any western magazines into the country until the time they arrive at the place they will be living, they will be the under continuous scrutiny of the men there.
They will not be able to wear western dress unless they keep their arms and legs completely covered.
They may also be criticisized by the religious police if their appearance could be construed as being Muslim if they do not have their heads covered. I actually saw instances where Egyptian women were chastized by the Mutawas for not having their heads covered
They will not be able to socialize with other teenagers as there are no places to congregate like malls, restaurants, bowling alleys, movie theaters or anything else they may have experienced here in America.
As to the motives of their relative who is requesting they visit Saudi Arabia, I would not like to take the chance of letting them visit because if they are not given permission to leave by him, the U.S. Government is powerless to help them.

9. Posted by starlight2 (Full Member 108 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!


I do not understand my aunt, and me being only 18 there is really nothing I personally could say to change her mind if my mother and other aunt being in their 50s cannot convince her & if no one can convice her them they'll be on a plane to SA in July. I think they are supposed to stay a month, so I will be in Japan the time they are supposed to come home ... so if they do not come home I will probably not know until September.

They are not even 18 yet, not that that makes much difference in Saudi Arabia anyways.

I REALLY pray that my uncle doesn't have alternative motives since they are some of my favorite cousins [even though i see them little]. All they care about is seeing their father since I know he cares about them very much, but I strongly think he has a dislike for my aunt and he thinks he would be the best parent to raise them [another red flag!] ... I don't think he would make them marry someone they didn't wish to or abuse them in Saudi Arabia but I wouldn't put it past him to keep them their .. until they are older or he decides to move back to the US or Bangedesh at least.

As for the customs in SA they really do sound degrading to woman, and if you met my cousins [esp the oldest one] you would see they are VERY independent and will tell off anyone in a second ... so I wouldn't want to see them be hurt by a man because they told him off or something.

I do not want to knock the middle east because I am sure not everyone is like a terroist or something ... BUT I do believe that their customs and government are FAR different from that in US ... and I would not want them having to live there against their own will .. since I am SURE they don't want to live in SA for the rest of their lives.

10. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!


If your cousin would tell off the men, at the airport in Saudi, she really does not know the dangers. Warn her, never to do that. Hopefully, she will listen to u. Tell her whatever happens, dont tell anybody off, while she is in Saudi, and keep her opinions to herself.
Here is a link, so u can read about some of what happens to people, in Saudi. Also, there is plenty more, on the internet. I think, your cousin should start to find out more, in the interest of her own safety.