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Awasser extends all support to Saudi families abroad
[ 2013-07-31 ]
RIYADH: Chairman of the Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad Tawfiq Abdul Aziz Al-Suwailem highlights the role of his organization in helping children born of Saudi fathers in foreign countries. “We provide for all their needs, such as a monthly assistance, winter clothing allowance, school assistance, housing and airplane tickets for those who want to return home,” he says in an exclusive interview with Abdul Hannan Tago in Riyadh.



Tawfiq Abdul Aziz Al-Suwailem, chairman of the Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awasser), has said that his organization provides all procedural and legal assistance free of charge to the abandoned Saudi families living abroad.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Al-Suwailem, who is also economic consultant of Gulf Bureau for Research and Economic Consultation, said the assistance is available to Saudi families whose children are from a Saudi father who married a foreign woman but could not look after them for various reasons.

According to Al-Suwailem, Awasser provides this assistance through the Saudi Foreign Affairs Ministry under the supervision of Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and interior minister, in line with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah directive to extend support to his people wherever they may be and help them come back to the country.

The organization also grants financial support, winter allowance and school assistance to these children living abroad and includes them in King Abdullah scholarship program.

Awasser, the first and only Saudi charitable organization authorized for these services, has now compiled full data of those children in 26 countries, including the United States, Canada, the Philippines, India, Indonesia and large numbers of them in Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

According to Awasser, these numbers are increasing rapidly because of the modern technology, the use of social network communication and the quick processing of their papers.

The program managed to reach out to 900 families by the end of 2011, consisting of 2,387 persons living in 26 countries around the world. So far, Awasser has spent SR11 million on them.



The Charitable Organization for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad or Awasser is licensed and supervised by the Ministry of Interior. Awasser works solely and specifically for Saudi families living abroad and traces Saudi citizens all over the world. They are now under our care, and we are trying our best to provide assistance to the children of our country that, due to certain circumstances, were forced to stay outside the Kingdom. They need our assistance, welfare and supervision.

We provide for all their needs, such as a monthly assistance, winter clothing allowance, school assistance, housing, and airplane tickets for those who want to return home. We also provide them legal assistance to issue their Saudi identity cards and renew their passports.

Awasser also helps to include them in King Abdullah scholarship programs, and sometimes we recommend them to work for Saudi companies and our embassies in these countries.



It was established in 2001 under a royal decree. The board of directors, which is elected every three years, consists of businessmen and retired personalities who are working voluntarily without official payment. They are merely rendering services to our country, because our country has provided us everything from our childhood. So this is considered as social responsibility. Allah always blesses those who work for humanitarian services.

Our objective is to find out the broken or abandoned families abroad and provide them a hand of assistance and all kinds of welfare.

Awasser aims to provide all necessary requirements for their return to the country and coordinates with the government, private institutions and NGOs working for charity to provide all their needs. We also carry out the relevant research and studies, especially on getting married outside and the negative effects of these imbalanced relations. We help them in all legalization procedures, including issuance of their Saudi identity cards and follow up with them.



We find them through a number of procedures via our embassies. We do teamwork with our embassies and visit these families in their respective places. We ask about their parents, their papers and their financial status. We go to these embassies and tell them that we have this person who needs assistance from us.

We also trace them through our website, which is visited by hundreds of them. We exchange information with them and answer all their inquiries online, we provide them all necessary information they need and finish their papers on the same day. We also have awareness campaigns to introduce our activities to the people. We make sure that our assistance reaches all deserving family equally, without discrimination. We provide assistance without bias and based on their needs, whether they are a family or individual.



At present, we have 29 countries in which 3,100 people have benefited from our services. Our priorities are Gulf countries, Arab states, the US and Canada, Asian countries and Africa. Awasser spent SR11 million in 2011 and around SR4 million since the beginning of this year. We are targeting to spend a total of SR10 million for assistance this year as per the directives of King Abdullah and instructions of the crown prince. King Abdullah sometimes gives an extra amount for the same purposes.

The largest numbers of beneficiaries are now in Syria, where 280 families live, followed by Egypt, where we have 218 families consisting of 496 members, Kuwait (123/455), Bahrain (104/455), Jordan (70/234) and Lebanon (19/56).

Among the non-Arab countries, the Philippines has the highest number of Saudi families (16 families comprising 26 members). Second is the US (9/27), and third India.



We conducted many visits to the Philippines and our embassy in Manila for this. We keep in touch with them. In a personal capacity, my brother goes there frequently and does a lot of humanitarian services.



There are some Saudis who marry outside Saudi Arabia without the knowledge of their family. Then, when their children from abroad emerge, their brothers in Saudi Arabia refuse to accept them. That is where the dispute begins.

It is a mistake to keep this secret, because in case of death these children abroad may not take their share if their Saudi brothers do not recognize them. This is, of course, not allowed in our Shariah, as all biological children should get their share equally from the left properties. They may also not get citizenship. Awasser acts as middlemen in these cases and goes to the concerned authority to help resolving these problems.



We are only working for families living outside Saudi Arabia.

Our jurisdiction and the scope of our services is outside the country. The people we assist do not need attorneys; they come to us or contact us through our website and follow the given guidelines. We provide legal assistance to get their identification cards, we support them financially and make them from consumers to productive citizens.



We serve them and do what is needed for them. We have contacts at the Foreign Affairs and Interior ministries, who can help them to legalize their status. People do not do this procedure themselves; we do it for them. We are the official entity that does all requirements without any charge.



They can contact us directly on our website: www.awasser.org.sa. We communicate with 92 Saudi embassies across the world to find out about any abandoned Saudi families in these countries. We did awareness campaigns on the negative effects of getting married outside the Kingdom.

The research we conducted revealed some financial and social problems including big financial needs the wives sometimes require, like accommodation, car, travel expenses, tickets and gifts for them and their relatives.

With regard to the social negative effects, many communities who allow their daughters to marry foreigners are from poor communities and uneducated. This creates differences in education and culture. The children who are living outside have different values, traditions and cultural background. Daughters are more affected by this phenomenon, as they do not know what their culture is and where they belong. Their children do not know whose culture they should follow — the father  or the mother.

Sociologists and rights activists have warned young Saudi men of the negative social and economic consequences of their marriages to foreign women. They also warned that the practice increases the number of unmarried women in the Kingdom.

To avoid problems, those who seek foreign wives are advised to first obtain official permission. Some Saudis travel to foreign countries with the intention of entering into temporary marriages. At the end of their vacation, they divorce their wives.

This practice shows their disrespect for family values. They do this for temporary personal enjoyment, but they do not think about its negative consequences. It will definitely affect their family life.
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