The family in Saudi Arabia consists of parents, children,
grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. In the past, Saudi Arabian families
were large, but this is changing. In Arabian families, gender plays a large role
in determining responsibilities. The father is the head of the family and
provides for basic needs, while the mother is responsible for child rearing
and running the household. In many families, however, both parents provide
for the family.
A daughter lives at home until she is married and then moves to her husband's home. Sons may move to their own houses when they get married. At least one son, however, will continue to live at the family house, even if he is married, in order to look after his parents. When a Saudi Arabian woman marries, she does not change her name.
Some families arrange marriages, although nowadays young people are likely to give their opinion. A traditional Saudi Arabian wedding is an Islamic civil ceremony. Men pay dowries for their brides. The women can write terms into marriage contracts regarding property disputes, child custody and divorce. Under Islamic law, a man is allowed only one wife unless he can justify the need for and comfortably support more. In the modern Arabian world, most men have only one wife.
The role of women in Saudi Arabian society is different from that of women in Canada. Interaction between women and men in public is restricted. In the cities, women must wear a black veil that covers their clothing. Traditionally, they do not drive cars. In the countryside, where every one is considered family, women may go unveiled and work with men.