17-01-2018
Expat family caught in triangle dilemma

newsimageJEDDAH — Following a catastrophic turn of events in her personal life, an expatriate woman is struggling to secure decent life for her children amid a series of challenges and official procedures in three countries — India, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The traumatic twist in the life of this Indian woman, hailing from Pune in Maharashtra state, with the sudden demise of her Egyptian husband in the Kingdom. She is now running from pillar to post to secure the future of her children, who are foreign citizens and whose passports have expired. The children’s father had registered their birth at his country’s diplomatic mission. The Indian woman came to work in Jeddah as domestic helper in the household of a business tycoon. Here she met her would-be husband who worked in the same house. They liked each other and, after a period of courtship they got married in Jeddah. The couple was blessed with two children – a boy and girl – and they were enjoying respectful and lovely life. The Saudi employer, who is known for his generosity in the Kingdom and abroad, gave all support to the family. However, tragedy struck all of a sudden. Her husband passed away and was buried in the Kingdom. The woman continued to live in Jeddah for sometime but she chose to return her home country, India, with her children to give them higher education. Her son is 27 and daughter 20 now. Both held Egyptian passports issued from Jeddah. The children in fact had forgotten the fact that they were Egyptian citizens because their Egyptian father was long dead and they enjoyed life in India with their mother. They did not know Egypt and had not traveled to the country. They realized the need for a passport only when it was needed to update their college records. It was then they discovered their Egyptian passports had expired. Eventually, they were barred from attending college. Their travails began when the family traveled to New Delhi to get the children’s passports renewed from the Egyptian Embassy. But the embassy advised the son to travel to Egypt for military training, which is mandatory for every Egyptian male above 18. They later discovered that as he was the only male child in the family, there was an exemption for him from compulsory conscription. When this was conveyed to the Egyptian mission, another glitch came to fore. A civil ID issued by Egypt’s Ministry of Interior is mandatory for the renewal or issuance of Egyptian passports, and the children had no such IDs. They learned that enrolment teams of Egyptian Interior Ministry periodically visit Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries with sizable Egyptian populations to issue them civil IDs. The family planned to visit Jeddah for such enrollment but the Egyptian Consulate informed them that only Egyptians holding valid Saudi residency are allowed to enroll when the delegations visit and advised them to travel to Egypt for the enrollment. The family was concerned about visiting Egypt as they had never been to the country nor do they know any of relatives from their father’s side.