Wife-tracker revisited

In my last post I wrote about how guardians receive SMS notifications if their dependants leave or enter the country. Dependents in Saudi Arabia are defined as anyone on a man’s family card, including wife and adult daughters. A few years ago only men were allowed to have individual national ID cards once they turned 16. Women had to rely on being listed by name and number only on a man’s family card. The only way to have a photo ID for a woman is to get a passport. But that didn’t matter too much because the family card was accepted everywhere including banks, hospitals and courts. No need and requirement for a photo ID resulted in a lot of men abusing the system in several ways. Cases where men have another woman pose as his wife, daughter or even sister to get access to benefits or harm female relatives were common. This has changed since it is currently an absolute requirement that every high school student, boy or girl, has to have a national ID card before graduating. Of course this was initially fought by the muttawas who even suggested having a fingerprint where the face photo should be, anything to avoid a woman’s face being shown and on record.

Despite women having their own individual ID cards with a photo, they are still listed on a man’s family card as a dependant, regardless of age or income. And that’s where the SMS notification comes into play. As a male guardian you can sign up for an E-service through your bank account to get notifications of any governmental transaction or change. Currently I know that SAMBA bank offers it, and other banks are signing on as well. This service is offered to banks not directly from the government but through a “middle-man” information security company, Al-Elm. The list of the type of information that they send is here. You’ll notice that the dependant leaving and arriving is the fourth and fifth from the bottom.


Filed under Eman, Gender Apartheid, Informative, Uncategorized

52 responses to “Wife-tracker revisited

  1. Gloria DeFeo

    Love your blog and spreading your word via Twitter. I also send a message to Al-Elm. I am very sorry that the women in your country have to live this way and hope that one day this will change. Women all over the world suffer so much and it is just not right! What gives any religion that right to abuse women? To me, that is not a religion but a ‘cult’. Keep up the good work!!

    • Ahmed

      Religion has nothing to do with this Gloria. It’s only the country’s traditions 🙂

      • Traditions have very little to do with it. It’s economics, man lust for dominion and plain politics: Play people against each other and divide and conquer. When I was growing up in the South, (Najran, Asir, Jizan and everything in between), women never wore abaya or covered their faces or hair before they got married and even then, nothing big. Women and men worked side by side. They tilled the land, fetched wood, grazed herds and set together where women breast-fed babies openly.

        If Saudi brand of Islam and traditions justify denying women their natural and basic human rights, then they need total reformation and transformation. If neither is to blame for marginalizing half of Saudi society, women, because of their gender (God created them too, Right?), then using religion and tradition in such a demeaning and destructive manner is an insult to the people and their globally contested doctrine.

        India has more traditions, languages, cultures, different ethnic groups and religions (including 200 million Muslims) than all Arabs and Muslims and yet, India is the largest democracy in the world. Why?

      • Rafael

        Ahmed, you are right, religion has nothing to do with it, but Islam does.

        2:282 “And call two witness from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not at hand, then a man and two women.”

        4:3 “Marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four.”

        4:11 “To the male the equivalent of the portion of two females, and if there be women more than two, then theirs is two-thirds of the inheritance, and if there be one (only) then the half.”

        Now, read your holly Qu’ran again Ahmed…..

  2. My husband had zero clue about this, but he also said it was probably something to be expected… I kind of agree… I was shocked at first, and then I just sat down and asked myself.. am I really that shocked? The answer was simply no.

    As for the ID for women, I remember my sister-in-law was refusing to get one, but was later forced when she applied for her scholarship abroad. Her reasoning was; This ID is not giving us the rights we needs, its just a sugar coated slap in the face.

    • Maram

      I actually think allowing women to get their own ID cards is the very first step towards treating women like adults in this country. We still got miles ahead though.

      • how can allowing women to get their own ID is considered the ” very first step towards treating women like adults”!!!!!!
        this ID is useless!!
        as long as you are still in the green family card – listed down on your father ID card is dependent then it will never change anything.
        for me they only benfits of having my own Id is that i won’t have to fight with my sisters over my father’s ID. Mom, My sisters and I all listen in my father’s ID as ” his own” !
        we are all considered dependent. Having my own ID is just basic human right.

        I remember once I went to pets store and I was very surprised that animles had their own IDs ..
        I felt sorry for myself.

        * that was before allowing women to get their own ID*

      • Maram

        I’ll tell you why I think it’s the first step. It’s a very small step but believe me it is a step!

        How could you ever be treated like an adult when you don’t even have an ID card? How would you ever be able to move around? How would you drive a car?

        It’s a shame not being able to remove your name from your “male guardian’s” card, but I’m hoping that would be the next step. I did say “we still got miles to go”.

        It’s outrageously slow and I know it can get very frustrating, but, in Saudi, that’s how things work, especially when it comes to women’s rights when you have as many opposers.

        This is how I see it; there are two opposite forces that are moving us. You see, as we move two steps forward they keep pulling us a hundred steps back. But I like to think that we’re at least moving.

        And I really do believe that in a country where you’re tied down, you can move a bit more freely when you carry your ID with you all the time. Plus, some places do not accept that green family card alone that we used to have to fight over.
        And believe me, I too feel very sorry for myself for appreciating this. It is indeed the sad truth.

  3. It’s not just women who are insulted by this service. Just below the notification of dependents leaving the country is “registration of sponsored worker escape” and the cancellation thereof. Can’t let our maids run away, can we?

  4. Just when you think it can’t possibly get any worse, it does, and then …. Everytime you think things are going to get better, they only get much much worse

  5. I think that’s really awful. Forgetting the whole treating women like children thing, if the man was a good ‘guardian’ he would know and be told by the women herself when she wants to leave the country. If she didn’t tell him it’s probably for a very good reason.

  6. Coolred38

    I agree with Jasmines comment.

    Just curious how men would feel if their every move was tracked and reported like it is for women?

  7. What do you expect from living in KSA= Kingdom of Sexist Arabia.
    And as Om Loujain’s sister-in-law believed, this ID card is nothing since we don’t have our rights here but I got it like five or six years ago. And one of the reasons why I got it was to piss off some people in my family who believed women must not have this ID card .

  8. A'idah

    Ali Alyami shows that The Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (an oxymoron) has recently published:

    “Caveat to Muslims in the West?” http://www.cdhr.info/

    “A resounding majority of the British population (75%) believe that “Islam is negative for Britain.” This sentiment is not confined to the British. We are witnessing unprecedented movements all over Europe against the infringement of Muslim culture, religion and dress code on European societies. Europeans and outspoken Americans are taking actions to ban Muslim cultural encroachment into their lives and on their democratic values…

    …Based on what non-Muslims see on the news, experience, and hear in the streets, mosques and Muslim schools in Britain, let alone in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia among other places, the overwhelming majority of the British (77%) do not want to have anything to do with Islam. Unlike most Muslims, the majority of Westerners relate to each other and to other people through social interaction, merits, common values, tangible contributions and tolerance of differences. Most Muslims, on the other hand, relate to others through religious orientation…”

    According to the article: ‘94% agreed that “Islam oppresses women” ‘

    The claim is that “people the world over are ignorant of Islam.” Yet, the fact is that books about Islam, including the Qur’an, are flying off the shelves, especially in the west. Anyone who reads about Islam’s tenets and its history is HORRIFIED! Therewith having full reason to reject the “complete way of life.”

    It appears that the more people learn about Islam the more they see it as negative, very negative to peace, democracy, secularism and pluralism. Islam is simply not compatible with any of the above!

    YES, it definitely is about Islam and how Muhammad, his companions, his followers, as well as now “modern” day Muslims practice it.

    That is the FACT with which Muslims must deal. Reform Islam and the barbaric, 7th century mentality of the ummah or stay in the Islamic world!

    • Rafael

      Totally agree A’idah,
      Truthfully, I am sorry for those borned into this way of life, which I rather call way to die. Look around you and tell me if I am wrong. The way of the Islam kills the soul and spirit, kills that spark of life given to us by the Creator and in its place turns a spiritual being into a machinelike android who acts in the accordance with the teachings of a book that incites violence one hundred times. I am sorry for you and those who think they have no choice but to life that life.

      • Mohammad

        Dear Rafael,
        You are sorry, and we are sorry that this is the knowledge you have about Islam. I really feel bad that you didn’t have the chance to understand our religion. I pray to God to show you the right direction.
        Wish you a great life!

      • Abdullah

        Where are you from Rafael? What is your religion?

        Please notice that this site is about saudi socity and not Islam!

        Kindly try to think before you reply.


    • I agree, the bookshops here are full of books about Islam, Qurans, Arabic culture, etc.
      And this is exactely what happened to me: I started reading the Quran, talking to muslims and reading the hadith, and I got more and more negative about Islam. Nobody needs to explain anything to me, it’s right there in the holy books. And you can see it’s effects when it’s applied in real life in the ”perfect” distopia of Saudi Arabia.
      While I have Muslim friends and care for them, I want nothing Islamic in my society. I want any attempt to introduce Islamic concepts into my society banned, and I also hate to see women in niqab, they freak me out, and I am all for banning it.

  9. Thanks, A’idah. This is a badge of honor. Ali

    “Ali Alyami shows that The Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (an oxymoron)”

  10. A’idah

    ”Thanks, A’idah. This is a badge of honor. Ali”

    You are welcome, Ali. 😉

    (“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”) Galileo Galilei

    I do wonder if any of this will do any good anytime soon?

    OTOH, there is a HUGE pig-in-the-python with a large majority of so many young people. Unfortunately:

    Health awareness nonexistent for Saudi women

    …Saudi Arabia is ranked as one of the worst countries in terms of obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, osteoporosis and cancer rates… Large numbers of Saudi children are suffering from obesity and diabetes at early age…

    …“Women have ignored advice on how to protect their health. Most Saudi women are suffering from osteoporosis, cancer and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)…”


    Given that the health statistics are so bad, especially for Saudi/Arab women, do you suppose that once the “older” generation shoves off the (healthy) young will change anything or will they simply continue the status quo? After all, people is the greatest asset of any nation.

    “A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.” Oscar Wilde

    • Actually, I read that children are born with rickets again, due to excessive covering of the mothers.
      Rickets is a horrible disease and wholly preventable if only the mothers get enough sunlight on their skin. Another blogger called it ”Allah’s punishment for covering the female body”

  11. I learned so much from your blog and even if I am a man it is really interessting, but of course also really sad to read what you have to say. Thank you very much, and I wish you the best for the future!

  12. A’idah

    Maram says: ”You see, as we move two steps forward they keep pulling us a hundred steps back. But I like to think that we’re at least moving.”

    With that math, Maram, you are not moving forward at all. That is a net loss of 98 steps, which means that you are further behind than ever before.

    Do any of you feel that Saudi women (or men) have made any progress at all in the human rights department?

    • Marcus

      Maram “wishes to think” matters are moving forward… we all like to think that…. even though sometimes we are swimming against the tide and feel we are beating our heads against the wall…

      The subject whether or not Saudi men or women have made any progress in the human rights department is really quite silly and childish considering this blog is massive progress… Maybe you are too bothered looking for the ill to see the well…

      • Marcus

        I ean come on ladies and gents, on another post, a woman cant even go into a cafe… there is no family section… its sick… so recognise it…. then act upon it… and when I say this blog is a good measurement, of course it is… for it is not too many moons ago that you might have been executed for it…If its good for a Saudi Princesses …. Oh happy days….

      • Marcus

        saying that, an english one 😉

  13. Salam! Your Blog is amazing! Greetings from Rio, Brazil!
    Do you know about my dream? I dream visiting Saudi Arabia one day. I love travel, culture and women that write.
    Writing unites people!

  14. Argus

    Remember, it’s all fun and games until the flame wars start. Of course, then it’s hilarious…

  15. Step in the right direction

    While this is certainly a step in the right direction, I would really like to see more fine-grained details about the well-being of my dependents. e.g., where are my dependents at any time of the day, etc.

  16. pat

    There will never be an end. The fanatics will rather kill than live.

  17. A’idah

    Abdullah says: “Please notice that this site is about saudi socity and not Islam!”

    Saudi Arabia is Islam and Islam is Saudi Arabia or that is at least what the Saudi believers claim. Islam originated there. The two holy mosques are there. All Muslims are obligated to make the pilgrimage to Mecca if they possibly can.

    Saudi Arabia exports its Sunni-Wahhabi version of Islam—the Islam that is modeled after the Islam conceived and practiced by Muhammad, his companions and followers—all over the world. The Saudis and other Gulf Arabs follow the conservative Hanbali school of jurisprudence that adheres to ahadith as well as the Qur’an.

    Muslims who follow other versions and sects of Islam including Shia, Sufi, Ahmadiyya, Druze, etc. are seen as apostates. Apostasy is punishable by death for men and prison for women.

    Regardless of which sect of Islam that any Muslim follows, the fact is that the Qur’an (and other Islamic texts) is filled to the brim with countless misanthropic, misogynistic passages that were revealed in Medina when Muhammad began to fight bloody, aggressive battles to further his imperialistic, Islamic empire, since he could not spread Islam peacefully. The peaceful Meccan surah are very, very few indeed.

  18. Joel

    Just another modernexample of the institutionalized slavery that exists in the Saudi state, and within Islam.

  19. Abdullah

    A’idah says: “Saudi Arabia is Islam and Islam is Saudi Arabia”

    Can’t you see the difference between the two sentences?!!
    BTW, Saudi Arabia was not exist at the time of profit Mohammed 🙂
    I believe that this log and many other saudi bloggers aim to improve the society and not to include hidden agenda within the context. So I suggest you to open a new blog and tell us about our society and how to improve it 🙂
    Also are you Saudi (sorry I mean Muslim)?

    I see that you like to comment and I suggest you to open your own blog to show us your strengths 🙂 Good luck.

    Ramadan Mubarak to all Saudis (sorry I mean Muslims)


    • Marcus


      I understood quite well what was meant when saying Saudi is Islam and Islam is Saudi… Attempting to twist if for an agenda which clearly was meant to demean is childish…

      I would hope that the author of this blog would have the intentions of bringing at least a couple of us together for open, respectful debate and discussion, all I see is you telling folk to prove how big they are and show their power by starting their own blog?


  20. A’idah

    A’idah says: “Saudi Arabia is Islam and Islam is Saudi Arabia”

    Abdullah Says: Can’t you see the difference between the two sentences?!!

    No. I can’t. Are you claiming that KSA is not all about Islam; that Wahhabism is not what Muhammad practiced; that Islam didn’t originate in ancient Arabia?

    BTW, Saudi Arabia was not exist at the time of profit Mohammed ”

    If you look back in the threads there has been plenty written on the origins of Islam in ARABIA. Regardless, “modern” (and I say that with a grain of salt) KSA is roughly the same place. Most certainly the “custodian of the two holy mosques” and many of the religious in KSA believe that.

    BTW— “Profit” is correct. 😉

    So I suggest you to open a new blog and tell us about our society and how to improve it

    I don’t have that much time, Abdullah. lol
    It would take an eternity. Any improving or “fixing” is up to Muslims, as has been said many times on this blog. Simply complaining in a blog won’t do a bit of good. Where is the Islamic human rights movement; the Islamic feminist movement? No one is going to do it for them.

    ”I see that you like to comment and I suggest you to open your own blog to show us your strengths Good luck.”

    I show a few of my strengths right here with my comments; that are all substantiated. Unlike those of certain people who merely spew hot-air with no proof.

    Also are you Saudi (sorry I mean Muslim)?

    Neither. (Thank God!) 😉

  21. sf

    Was speaking to another lady from Riyadh a week ago and I did ask her how it was for females there. She said that they(women) are getting *there*. She even mentioned that some women are also working in car dealerships. Well, I do pray and hope that women are able to be treated more justly and give the basic rights like having those ID’s and not having to be listed on their male guardian’s cards.

  22. Marcus

    Cant you just micro chip every new born female and be done with it…?

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  25. Julie Rehbein

    So the way I see it, it’s still the MAN that needs to sign-up for the system, yes? Sure, shame on the old fashioned gov’t, but what about these men that actually take advantage of this service?

  26. Pingback: Saudi Arabia: Where Women are Dependents Forever and Ever | The Global Citizen

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  28. thaank you saudi woman

  29. Abdullah says: “Please notice that this site is about saudi socity and not Islam!” Saudi Arabia is Islam and Islam is Saudi Arabia or that is at least what the Saudi believers claim. Islam originated there. The two holy mosques are there. All Muslims are obligated to make the pilgrimage to Mecca if they possibly […]

    August 14, 2010 at 9:16 am I agree completely with this post, I only want to add that all the early peaceful suras are obrigated by the later nasty ones, following the concept of Naskh.


    Given these facts, what role should or must the Saudis play to improve Muslims’ (or at least their own citizens) human rights, acceptance of religious differences at home and abroad, independent judicial systems, equal rights for women and minorities, accountability, transparency, rule of law, social and economic justice? Is not Islam the religion of peace, love and justice for all?

    What does Naskh mena and how and why they were obrigated? Ali

  30. Naskh means newer verses supersede older verses if they contradict each other.

    It is in the Quran I suggest you read it.

  31. Pingback: So ein ding………………………….Wife tracker « Hodjanernes Blog

  32. stefania

    What strucks me is that it’s your husband who signed up for this service! Sigh….

  33. This is where we need people like you to fight to the rights of women, thank you.

  34. Pingback: posting from Rome | Saudiwoman's Weblog

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