Will Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgina Rodríguez be allowed to live together in Saudi Arabia?
Cohabitation by unmarried couples is illegal in Saudi Arabia - so what does this mean for Al Nassr signing Cristiano Ronaldo and his girlfriend, Georgina Rodríguez?
As Al Nassr new boy Cristiano Ronaldo prepares for life in Riyadh, it remains unknown whether the footballer’s family will move with him to the Saudi capital. Cohabitation by unmarried couples is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but two lawyers from the country have confirmed to the Spanish news agency EFE that Ronaldo and his girlfriend, Georgina Rodríguez, will be able to live together nonetheless.
“The authorities have started to turn a blind eye”
“Although the kingdom still prohibits cohabitation outside of wedlock, the authorities have started to turn a blind eye to that in recent times,” one of the lawyers, a specialist in civil law, said. “Nowadays - among foreign nationals - the Saudi authorities don’t interfere in this matter, even if the laws prohibit unmarried couples from living together.”
Only a few years ago, this would have been unthinkable in a country where Islamic law is generally strictly enforced. Since Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in 2017, however, some small advances have been made in the recognition of civil rights, particularly women’s rights. Bin Salman has also overseen reforms in the areas of sport and leisure, but it’s worth emphasising that Saudis do not enjoy the same freedoms as foreigners. Indeed, the two lawyers who spoke to EFE wished to remain anonymous.
What are Georgina Rodríguez’s Saudi visa options?
Despite not being married to Ronaldo, Rodríguez has options open to her when it comes to seeking a visa to join her partner in Saudi Arabia. “In terms of coming to the kingdom, Georgina has a couple of alternatives,” the lawyers explained. “One is to come on a [non-tourist] visa sponsored by Al Nassr.”
Another option is to “obtain a year-long tourist visa that allows her to stay in the country for 90 days per visit”.
This may be her most straightforward route, they conclude. “Saudi employment laws require any woman who obtains a [non-tourist] visa for entry into the kingdom to be the wife, employee or immediate family of a man residing in the country,” they say. An unmarried woman can more easily enter Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa, as “a man and a woman can get one separately without having to reveal the nature of their relationship”.
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