Nathalie Morin's three children in their Dammam apartment.
By Rasheed Abou-Alsamh
In an exclusive interview, Nathalie Morin told me that her Saudi husband, Saeed al-Shahrani, has been unemployed since May 2013, and that this has forced them to sell a refrigerator, washing machine, a television set and other household items in order to buy food and pay their bills.
I found out about their unfortunate situation after emailing questions to Nathalie about her relationship with the two Saudi women’s rights activists, Wajeeha al-Howaider and Fawzia al-Ayuni, who were sentenced to ten months in jail each, and a two year travel ban, earlier this month after being convicted of allegedly committing the crime of Takhbib, or inciting a wife against her husband. This sentence was for a visit of the two to the apartment building of Canadian national in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, in 2011, supposedly to give her food supplies. In the interview, Nathalie says she never talked or met Wajeeha.
I discovered that Nathalie does speak good English by visiting her blog called Saudi Real Life (www.saudireallife.blogspot.com), where she has posted several videos of herself speaking in English.
I also found out by watching the videos and interviewing her that Saeed until recently worked for Saudi intelligence services, and that Nathalie first came to Saudi on a wife’s visa even though she was not yet married to Saeed at the time, but already had given birth to their first child in Canada.
She claims that her husband is her best friend, and that they share everything with each other. She complains loudly that all of them are now on some blacklist that does not allow them to leave the kingdom, or for Saeed to find a job.
Here is the text of the interview, with the emphasis put in by Nathalie:
Q: Why has your husband Saeed been stopped from working as an intelligence agent? Does he have any other job in order to earn money? Have his relatives been helping him financially?
A: My husband worked actively for his country in the National Security department from 1995 to 2008. He has been officially off-duties since September 2008, with permission from Saudi government to stop service and to return to his real identity.
From 2008 to May 6, 2013, he had many hidden jobs in many sectors. On May 6, 2013, the Saudi government decided to cut-off his financial resources completely and he cannot work anymore. Also, all charitable societies have refused to help us for some weird reasons and we do not have relatives helping us.
For our survival since May 6th until today, we have sold:
- 3 air-conditioners;
- A washing machine;
- A dryer machine;
- A television;
- Furniture in two living rooms;
- A few electronic gadgets;
- A watch
Q: You say on your blog that the Saudi government has banned all of you from traveling outside the kingdom. Why?
A: Yes, my husband and our children are registered on the Saudi National black list. We’re not allowed to get a passport; to get an ID card without our blacklist data; we’re not allowed to get out of Saudi territories even just for tourism purpose within GCC countries. Why? Ask your question directly to Saudi government.
Q: When Wajeeha al-Howaider and Fawzia al-Ayouni went to your apartment in 2011, did they manage to get to your apartment and speak with you before being arrested? Did they bring you food?
A: No, I never spoke to them and they did not bring food.
Q: How did you first meet Saeed in Montreal? Did you know at that time that he was an intelligence agent?
A: I met him normally in Montreal as many others meet people. He was like an ordinary person and me, how do you want me to know about his work? Intelligence, espionage, spy are NOT subjects that most of people have knowledge. How do you want me to have clues? At the beginning he told me, “My name is Saeed Al Bishi and I'm a businessman from Saudi Arabia.” Me, I believed him.
I NEVER knew about his real identity and real work. I NEVER knew about his involvement with the Saudi government until March 5, 2005.
Q: I am amazed that you were able to get a visa the first time you visited Saudi, as you were not married yet to Saeed. How did he manage to do that?
A: Yes, my husband came back to Saudi Arabia in September 2002 and the Saudi government told him that he would not return abroad anymore. He met in person with the late Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz al Saud and he told his Royal Highness that it is impossible because he has a baby boy with a Canadian woman in Canada. Prince Naif decided to grant my husband a special reward and favor to marry a foreign national woman and to bring me on Saudi soil with a married visa WITHOUT any document of marriage and to bring our baby boy with Saudi nationality WITHOUT any document of paternity. We arrived in Saudi Arabia for a vacation in July 2003 and we met in person with Dr. Ahmed Al Salam in his office of the Ministry Interior Federal Headquarters in Riyadh. He gave us in person our official permission to get married and after that we went to Jeddah and we got a confirmation of marriage document from Jeddah Civil Courthouse.
Q: Do you have contact with the female relatives of Saeed's family? Are they nice to you? Do they help you?
A: No, I do NOT have any contact with the female relatives of my husband and the last time I saw them is in 2010. They do not like me, because I have foreign roots, in my blood, from a western country.
Q: Does your husband allow you to go to the supermarket every week to buy food?
A: My husband allows me to do anything I wish to do. He is open-minded and we are in mutual agreement together. But, since May 6th, the Saudi government has cut off all our financial resources and so, we do NOT have any money to go supermarket.
Q: Do your children go to school? What are their names and ages?
A: Samir, 11 years old, has completed the 4th elementary grade. Abdullah, 7 years old, has completed the 1st elementary grade. Sarah, 4 years old, has not gone to school yet.
Q: Do you have any Canadian friends in Dammam or Riyadh?
A: No, I do NOT have any friend, Canadian or of any other nationality.