As part of a move to impose tighter restrictions on foreigners willing to marry Saudi women, the Saudi government has made it mandatory for foreign nationals to undergo drug testing before marriage.
The new rules, endorsed by the government, will discourage marriages with foreign nationals, while ensuring that couples after marriage don’t face social problems because of drug addiction and intoxication.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has instructed all hospitals and clinics around the Kingdom about this new rule.
Foreigners — men and women — willing to marry Saudis will be required to undergo medical examinations, and their reports will carry the information about the results of the drug test. This will be one of the eligibility conditions for foreigners taking Saudi brides or vice versa.
“In fact, a drug test has been added to the compulsory marital medical test for foreigners seeking marriage with Saudi women,” said Mishaal Al-Rabian, head of communications and PR at the MoH, on Wednesday.
He clarified that “the drug test is only for foreigners and, the test has been applied since the issuance of the circular a few months back.”
Al-Rabian’s clarifications reportedly came following rumors on social media that the MoH has started drug testing for citizens before marriage. Arab News could neither reach Al-Rabian, nor Abdullah Al-Shamrani of the ministry, for further information about the new rule.
But, Dr. Salem Al-Zahrani, who works for a private hospital in Riyadh, said “the mandatory drug test is a new provision added to the set of rules that define the terms and conditions of marriage between Saudis and foreigners.”
The new requirement will also help in subsequently decreasing the number of divorces, as well as cases related to marriage, inheritance and property, which have been piling up in Saudi courts.
According to a report published in Al Madinah Arabic daily, the drug test is mandatory for both foreign brides and grooms. As per the existing rules, a Saudi woman must be aged 30 to 55, if she wants to marry a foreigner. A Saudi man wishing to marry a foreign woman must be aged 40 to 65.
The 17-point charter of rules governing the marriages of Saudis with foreigners, announced in October, also imposes restrictions on a Saudi man marrying a non-Saudi woman. In this case, a Saudi man must earn SR3,000 per month, and he must own or rent an apartment or house.
The charter also makes it clear that the woman married to a Saudi man may or may not receive Saudi citizenship. Also, the existing rules for Saudi women planning to marry foreigners makes it clear that the age difference must not exceed 10 years.
It is also important to note that in this context, the trend of marriages between Saudis and non-Saudis are on upswing. The Ministry of Justice revealed the statistics early this year, saying that last year, the number of marriage contracts between Saudi men and non-Saudi women reached 3,596, while female Saudi marriage contracts with non-Saudi males totaled 3,352.
The report stated that the number of divorcees among Saudis in 2015 reached 40,000, representing almost a third of the marriage contracts during the same year, which is around 133,000 contracts.
Saudi Arabia is home for about 10.5 million foreigners, representing roughly one-third of the country’s population. Asians, South Asians, Arabs, Africans, Europeans, and Americans represent the bulk of the workforce of the country.