Marriage to a Saudi Citizen
Every country has its own laws that apply to its citizens marrying a person from a different country. Getting married to a Saudi citizen with the goal of eventually bringing them to Canada to live is a process with many steps.
If you want to bring your Saudi spouse or partner to live in Canada, you must then file a sponsorship application for them to become a permanent resident. If they would like to visit you in Canada while their application is in process, they must also apply for a visitor visa. For more information, please see our family sponsorship page and our visitor visa page.
Once the necessary documents are gathered, it usually takes the Saudi government up to 3 weeks to authenticate the documents.
If you then file a Canadian sponsorship application for your Saudi spouse or partner, this application takes an average of 10-12 months.
A visitor visa application for your spouse or partner to visit you in Canada while the sponsorship applications are processing takes an average of 3 –14 days.
Saudi Marriage Basic Requirements
When it comes to Saudi marrying foreigner, government permission is required and the marriage must be approved, recognized and registered with the government in order for the couple to have full rights and benefits. If the Saudi wishes for his wife or her husband to live or travel to the Kingdom it is essential to have a sanctioned approved marriage. Otherwise, among other things, the husband would not be viewed as a legal ‘mahrem’ (guardian) and therefore prohibited from being publicly together. Even if a couple marries outside the Kingdom they should still want the marriage registered with the Saudi courts for inheritance reasons as well as other rights. Saudis who wish to marry a foreign spouse are supposed to obtain government approval prior to the marriage. In numerous cases it does not work out in such a manner. Many couples face difficulties and rather than be apart or “live in sin” they will marry either in an Islamic, civil or other type of marriage ceremony without waiting for the official government approval. However, until government approval is obtained and the spouse has an iqama which identifies the Saudi spouse as the sponsor, then you must forget about coming to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In order for a marriage to be approved, the Saudi national must submit information on his/her intended spouse and seek approval. Approvals for marriage to a foreigner are from the Ministry of Interior. On receipt of the request a file number will be generated. It is essential to know and retain the file number as that is how ones application would be identified throughout the process. Depending on the employer of the Saudi national, additional approvals may be necessary besides that of the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Interior will evaluate and investigate the request. If approval is granted then the next step would be notification from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a visa to be issued to the spouse.
Once the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received the request to issue a visa, the spouse can go to the designated Saudi embassy present the file number and passport for issuance of a residency visa. This may not happen in one day. Usually a passport would be dropped off the morning of one day and then received sometimes later on the same day or one or two days later. The residency visa will be valid for 60 days during which time the Saudi spouse must take the passport to the passport office (Jawazat) in order to generate and receive an Iqama (which is also the official identification card). The iqama is similar in size and appearance to a driver’s license and will identify the foreigner as the spouse of a Saudi and resident of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The iqama is valid for two years.
- Marriage certificates are issued by the Ministry of Justice Court of Security and Marriages.
- Medical report is required before marriage issued by accredited hospital.
The Saudi Arabian marriage certificate contains the following information;
- Date of Marriage
- Place of Marriage
- Name and particulars of the Husband
- Name and particulars of the Wife
If your Saudi spouse has dependent children, this does not affect the Saudi Marriage document application.
If you have dependent children, they have no effect on the application to marry a Saudi citizen.
List of Saudi Consulates in Canada
Calling Saudi Arabia from Canada
To make a direct call to Saudi Arabia from Canada, you need to follow the international dialling format given below. The dialling format is the same when calling Saudi Arabia mobile or land line from Canada.
011 - 966 - Area Code - local number
011 - Exit code for Canada, and is needed for making any international call from Canada
966 - ISD Code or Country Code of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia City Codes by Province (landlines only)
|Al Bahah (or Baha)||017||Asir||017||Najran||017|
|Al Jawf (or Jouf)||014||Eastern Province||013||Northern Borders||014|
Cellular Phone Codes (by provider)
- Mobily: 054 or 056
- STC: 050, 053, 055 or 057
- Zain: 058 or 059
Calling Canada from Saudi Arabia
To make a direct call to Canada from Saudi Arabia, you need to follow the international dialling format given below. The dialling format is the same when calling Canada mobile or land line from Saudi Arabia.
00 - 1 - Area Code - local number
- 00 - Exit code for Saudi Arabia, and is needed for making any international call from Saudi Arabia
- 1 - ISD Code or Country Code of Canada
List of area codes in Canada
403 / 587 (southern Alberta)
587 / 780 (central and northern Alberta)
236 / 250 / 778 (majority of BC)
236 / 604 / 778 (Metro Vancouver)
226 / 519 (southwestern Ontario)
249 / 705 (northeastern Ontario)
289 / 365 / 905 (Greater Toronto Area)
343 / 613 (eastern Ontario)
416 / 647 (Toronto)
807 (northwestern Ontario)
|Manitoba||204 / 431||PEI||782 / 902|
418 / 581 (eastern Quebec)
438 / 514 (Montreal)
450 / 579 (Greater Montreal)
819 / 873 (remainder of Quebec)
|Newfoundland and Labrador||709||Saskatchewan||306 / 639|
|Nova Scotia||782 / 902|
Saudi Arabia is on Arabian Standard Time (GMT+3). Saudi Arabia does not participate in Daylight Saving Time.
|Canadian Time Zone||
# of Hours Saudi Arabia is Ahead
# of Hours during DST
|Pacific (BC, Yukon)||11 hours||10 hours|
|Mountain (Alberta, western Nunavut, Lloydminster, Saskatchewan)||10 hours||9 hours|
|Saskatchewan||9 hours||9 hours|
|Central (Manitoba, Northwest Territories, central Nunavut, northwestern Ontario)||9 hours||8 hours|
|Eastern (most of Ontario, most of Quebec)||8 hours||7 hours|
|Atlantic (Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, eastern Quebec)||7 hours||6 hours|
|Newfoundland||6.5 hours||5.5 hours|
Emergency Information for Canadians in Saudi Arabia
Embassy of Canada in Riyadh
Telephone: 966 (1) 488-2288
Consulate of Canada in Jeddah
Ali Reza Tower, 11th Floor
Telephone: 966 (2) 653-0597, 653-0434
The Government of Canada's Travel Alerts for Saudia Arabia
Saudi Arabian Money
The Riyal is the currency of Saudi Arabia. It is abbreviated as ر.س or SR. It is subdivided into 100 Halalas. The Saudi Ghirsh is 5 Halalas.
In 1935, the first coins were issued in the name of Saudi Arabia. These were silver ¼, ½ and 1 riyal coins which were nearly 50% lighter than the previous issue. Cupro-nickel ¼, ½ and 1 ghirsh were also issued from 1937. In 1946 (AH 1365), many of the cupro-nickel coins were countermarked with the Arabic numerals 65 (٦٥). Cupro-nickel 2 and 4 ghirsh were introduced in 1957.
In 1963, the halala was introduced and bronze 1 halala coins were issued. This was the only year these coins were struck. Cupro-nickel 5, 10, 25 and 50 halala followed in 1972. These coins are also inscribed with their denomination in ghirsh or riyal (1, 2 ghirsh, ¼, ½ riyal). In 1976, cupro-nickel 1 riyal coins were introduced, which are also inscribed with the denomination 100 halala. Bimetallic 1 riyal coins, also marked 100 halala, were issued in 1999.
In 1953, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) began issuing Haj Pilgrim Receipts for 10 riyals, with 1 and 5 riyals following in 1954 and 1956, respectively. These resembled banknotes and were initially intended for use by pilgrims who exchanged foreign currency for them. However, they became widely accepted in Saudi Arabia and largely replaced silver riyal coins in major financial transactions. Consequently, the Monetary Agency began issuing regular banknotes for 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 riyal on 15 June 1961. The Pilgrim Receipts were withdrawn on 1 February 1965.
500 Riyal notes were introduced in 1983. 20 and 200 riyal banknotes were issued in 2000 to commemorate the centenary of the founding of what became the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The 5th series of banknotes bearing the face of King Abdullah were issued in 2007.
1 Riyal Banknote
Saudi Arabian 1 riyal banknote depicts 7th century gold dinar coin; King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud on the front and Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency headquarters on the back
5 Riyal Banknote
Saudi Arabian 5riyal banknote depicts Ras Tanorah oil refinery; King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud on the front and Ras Tanorah tanker loading terminal, Jubayl Port in the eastern region on the back
10 Riyal Banknote
Saudi Arabian 10 riyal banknote depicts King Abdulaziz’s palace in Almoraba; King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud on the front and King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre, Riyadh on the back.
50 Riyal Banknote
Saudi Arabian 50 riyal banknote depicts Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem; King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud on the front and Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem on the back
100 Riyal Banknote
Saudi Arabian 100 riyal banknote depicts Green Dome of The Qiba Mosque (Prophet’s Mosque) in Medina; King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud on the front and The Qiba Mosque (Prophet’s Mosque) in Al Madinah Al Monawarah on the back
500 Riyal Banknote
Saudi Arabian 500 riyal banknote depicts Ka'aba in Mecca; King Abdulaziz Al Saud on the front and Holy mosque in Makkah Al Mukarramah (Mecca) on the back
Other Emergency Numbers
In Saudi Arabia, you can dial the following numbers in case of an emergency; Emergency Numbers
- Fire 998
- Police 999
- Ambulance (Red Crescent) 997
- Traffic Accident Police 993
- Fire 998
- Police 999
- Ambulance (Red Crescent) 997
- Traffic Accident Police 993
Wedding Traditions in Saudi Arabia
Many marriages in Saudi Arabia continue to be arranged marriages. However that is not to say that the bride or groom does not get a choice in the matter. They do. But if a bride and groom are brought together through family it is rare for either to reject the match. An arranged marriage in Saudi Arabia is usually made through the bride or groom’s circle. Matches are generally arranged through women in the family and being a conservative society, matches will be made through families already known to the women. First cousin and second cousin marriages continue in Saudi Arabia. In other cases marriages will be arranged through families who have married in to the women’s circle of contacts.
The women will be the ones to build up the prospective groom to the young woman. Mother, Sisters and Aunts or a Grandmother will extol the virtues of the young woman to the prospective groom. The young woman will think over what the other women have said and usually pray the istikara prayer for guidance.
The young man, if he likes what he hears, he will express his desire of marriage to his family. His family will arrange to meet with that of the young woman. The male relatives (father, grandfather, brothers and groom) will meet with the young woman’s father and brothers. The female relatives (mother, grandmother, sisters) will meet with the young woman. If the father is comfortable and satisfied, he will allow the young man to meet his daughter (chaperoned).
The young couple are given a short period of time they are allowed to talk. Usually both the young man and woman have questions prepared they wish to ask. By the end of the meeting the couple generally decides whether they wish to marry. Most couples do agree to marry and are now engaged.
This part of the Saudi courtship is kept very private and closely held. Therefore if after meeting either the young man or young women do not wish to marry there is less of a loss of face.
A couple may be engaged for a period of several weeks or for a period of several years. That depends on the families. During the engagement period some couples may receive further opportunities to get to know one another; others may not. How much contact or if any contact prior to the marriage is dependent on the families and how open they are with each other. Most young Saudi couples today do keep in touch via phone calls, text messages and email. The more contact between a young couples prior to marriage the less feeling of marrying a stranger.
The Wedding Ceremony
A small ceremony would take place before the actual celebrations some time before where the marriage would be solemnized before a religious Sheikh who is a Islamic magistrate with three witnesses all male or two female and one male .The groom is inquired of what he is giving to the bride for her hand in marriage as mehr. The Celebrations would be held in some grand hotel with fabulous arrangement. There would be separate seating arrangement of the ladies and gents. Many a times the groom would be with his friends separately with all the songs and traditional singing going on and the after the feast the couples would be escorted to a place where they would sit together amid relatives and friends.
The bride adorns traditional dress known as Zaboun and yashmak, which is embroidered with silver thread. The dress may be white or of other varied colours. Women also attire in long cloak like dress with lower garment for underneath the cloak. Men wear traditional long dresses with head gear, and a square scarf for wearing overhead. Also business suits and normal western wear too may be attired by the Saudis. The bridegroom in Saudi Arabia sometimes wears a white colour dress with a long cover known as the Bisht. The woman also sometimes wears a long white dress with lots of jewellery.
Conclusion of the Wedding Ceremony
The Wedding concludes when the time comes for the couples to leave the venue. When the couples leave the grooms friends and relatives accompany him with their own conveyances hooting and cheering. There is lot of excitement which lasts late till night.
The variety of meat dishes are put which are like Al-Kabsa which is made of rice cooked with red or white meat or chicken in a pot. Also, lamb or chicken is prepared with rice, spices and water is barbecued in a deep hole in the ground. Grilled seasoned chicken or lamb too is a speciality in such occasions. Also there is a dish which is called saleeg which is another dish made by cooking rice with milk until the mixture becomes solid. Served hot with butter sprinkled over top of it. Lentils chick peas (hummus) and cracked wheat (burghul) are widely cooked.
Religion in Saudi Arabia
Islam undoubtedly is the main Saudi Arabia religion which is practised by almost 96% of the total native population. Christianity is practised by a mere 3.5% of the total population and Hinduism is practised by 0.6% population. The followers of Baha'i add up to a mere 0.1% of the population.
Most of the Saudi Arabian people are followers of the Sunni sect and most of the Arabians live in urban areas. The Saudi Arabian people are further divided into three groups - native Arabs, other Arabs, and Bedouins or nomadic Arabians. The native Arabs are people who belong to western and central Arabia, while other Arabs refer to Arabian people who have migrated from other Arabian countries. A minor group of Americans and Asians following their respective religious customs in Saudi Arabia also constitute a part of the other Arabian population.
The major religious destinations of Saudi Arabia include The Kaba and Black Stone in Mecca, Quba Mosque in Medina, Mount Arafat, Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Floating Mosque of Jeddah, The Prophet's Mosque in Medina and Nabatean Tombs of Madain Sahreha.
Since Saudi Arabia is predominantly a Muslim country, the official Religion of Saudi Arabia is is automatically Islam and the Quran is the holy book of the people. It is also considered to be the constitution of the country. Most of the Saudi Arabians belong to the Sunni sect of Muslims. There are 15 percent Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia. The Religion in Saudi Arabia largely influences the Culture of Saudi Arabia in Asia
The Religion in Saudi Arabia has a fair impact upon the food habits and dress of the Muslim inhabitants. Of the 6 to 7 million people who live in Saudi Arabia are mostly followers of Islam. There is also a non-Muslim population which comprises of foreigners who have settled in the country.
The History of Saudi Arabia reveals how Religion in Saudi Arabia has shaped the Customs and Traditions in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a religious hub because of the sacred pilgrimages of Mecca and Medina. A Muslim devotee has to follow the Five Pillars of Islam. First he should believe that there 'is no god but a God, and Mohammed is the Messenger of God'. This is also the motto of the Saudi Arabians. Praying five times a day facing Mecca is the second tenet. Giving of alms, that is, zakkat, is another rule. During the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, that is, the Ramadan, the followers of Islam are to observe a fast. Finally each member of the Muslim community must undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in their lifetime.
Mosques in Saudi Arabia
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, Mosque of the Prophet, Medina Saudi Arabia
Masjid Nabawi – Saudi Arabia
Prophet's Mosque, Medina, Saudi Arabia
Churches in Saudi Arabia
Coptic Church, SAUDI ARABIA
The Corniche Mosque, Jedda, Saudi Arabia
Romantic, Scenic and Historic Places in Saudi Arabia
InterContinental Jeddah is located on the Corniche, facing the world famous Jeddah Fountain and the Red Sea, 5 minutes from downtown, business districts and shopping areas, 25 minutes from Jeddah King Abdulaziz Airport. It offers rooms with stunning views, a Club InterContinental floor with new benefits and a wide selection of dining options.
Radisson Blu Hotel - Jeddah
Al Muna Kareem Radisson Blu Hotel, - Al Madinah
The 5 star Al Muna Kareem Radisson Blu Hotel, Al Madinah is located in the centre of the Holy City of Madinah, just 70 m from the Prophet's Mosque and within easy reach of the city’s other key sites. Designed to exceed the expectations of pilgrims, leisure and corporate travellers alike, the hotel offers luxurious guest rooms, superb dining and a commitment to the highest service standards. The hotel is spread over 16 floors and combines striking architecture with classic, tasteful interiors. The all-day dining restaurant serves varied local and international dishes. The hotel features 307 beautifully appointed guest rooms including 14 junior suites, a royal suite, and seven rooms for people with disabilities.
Dar Al Iman InterContinental - Madinah
It is located near the piazza of the Holy Prophets Mosque and it is only a minute's walk from The Mosque's Main Entrance. The hotel is ideally situated in the heart of Madinah's commercial, financial and shopping district. International and local cuisines are excellent in the highly recommended Rotana restaurant. Informal dining is available all day in coffee lounge located in the upper lobby.
Dar Al Tawhid InterContinental - Makkah
Dar Al Tawhid InterContinental Makkah is ideally located just footsteps from Al Haram and overlooking the Holy Mosque, the hotel enjoys one of Makkah's most privileged settings. The hotel is just an hour away from King Abdulaziz International Airport and in close proximity to the city's business district. Dar Al Tawhid InterContinental Makkah offers 430 superb guestrooms, all tastefully furnished with elegance and style. All guestrooms offer breathtaking views of Holy Mosque or the striking city skyline. And guestrooms are equipped to the highest standards; facilities include complimentary High Speed Internet Access and Plasma TV. The hotel offers 152 fabulous suites provide the very best in comfort and luxury. There are five types of suites ranging from Junior Suites to VIP Royal Suites. The Hotel is suitable for both business and pleasure.
Makkah Clock Royal Tower
Located adjacent to the Masjid al Haram, Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel offers the finest hospitality in the holy city of Makkah. One of the world’s tallest, this 76-story hotel is the focal point of the Abraj Al Bait Complex, part of the King Abdul Aziz Endowment Project. Among its outstanding features is a 40-meter (130-foot) Royal Clock, visible from 17 kilometres (10 miles) away, which will announce daily prayers to the Muslim world; meanwhile, the Lunar Observation Centre and an Islamic Museum aim to preserve Muslim heritage for future generations.
Four Seasons Riyadh Kingdom Centre - Riyadh
The hotel is located close to the key sites for business, as well as arts, culture and shopping, modern boutiques to open-air markets. All 249 rooms, including 52 suites, are generously sized, amongst the largest in the city and offer the latest in communications technology. Sleek, chic and contemporary in design, rooms are equally suited for relaxation, with minibar and international satellite. The hotel is suitable for leisure and business alike.
Radisson Blu Hotel - Riyadh
The Radisson Blu Hotel, Riyadh, is ideally located 40 kilometres from the King Khalid International Airport. This Riyadh hotel also affords easy access to the cultural and shopping area of the city, such as the Masmak fortress and famous Kingdom Centre. It offers five-star amenities including concierge service, 24-hour room service, health club with sauna, Jacuzzi and massage facilities, and on-site fine dining restaurants Shogun and Olivio's.
The hotel offers 234 elegant rooms and suites, all equipped with Free high-speed, wireless Internet access, mini bar and hair dryer. The hotel offers a variety of dining options including Japanese cuisine at Shogun, fusion delicacies at Brasserie on Four, Italian cuisine at Olivio's and hot coffee and select snacks at Café Vienna.
Azizia Beach - Dammam
Azizia Beach can be found in the city of Dammam in Saudi Arabia. The beach is located very close to the city center and is a major attraction. The beach is blessed with crystal clear water, which makes it a perfect place to go diving. The waves are gentle and swimming is a preferred activity here. There are several shaded picnic spots available throughout the beach area. The spots are equipped with barbecue grills and seating facilities.
Durat Al Arous - Dhahban
This beach is located near the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The beach is tucked away in a village of Durat Al Arous. This village is located in the northern part of Jeddah. This beach is great for diving and other water sports
Half Moon Beach - Dharan
This beach is located in the Al Khobar region in Saudi Arabia. This beach attracts a lot of tourists as it is blessed with golden sand and tranquil blue water. The beach is a great place to take a stroll and soak in the beauty of the picturesque surroundings. This beach has several restaurants that serve the most amazing Arabian delicacies. The beach also has entertainment zones for kids and adults alike. This beach is a couple of km away from Sunset Beach.
Al Nakeel - Jeddah
Al Nakeel is considered to be a five-star beach property in Jeddah. The northern coast of Saudi Arabia is flanked by the Red Sea and offers several beaches. Al Nakeel is the perfect get-a-way for the diving enthusiast. The water is warm and offers great views of the marine life.
Sunset Beach - Al Khobar
Sunset Beach is also located in Al Khobar which is in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. Al Kobar is a major destination for tourists due to its beautiful beaches and the high entertainment quotient. Sunset Beach is the most famous beach in this part of Saudi Arabia. It is located close to the Prince Mohamed Recreational City. Another famous landmark close to the beach is the amusement park. The waves make the beach a surfer's paradise. The sandy beaches are well-maintained and not very crowded. It is a perfect way to spend some time with your loved ones, away from the city's hustle and bustle.
Sponsoring Your Saudi Spouse to Canada
The sponsorship process is time-consuming and drawn-out; to learn more about it click the button below: