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.