On March 19, news agency Asian News International (ANI) published a report headlined, “Saudi Arabia prohibits men from marrying women from Pakistan, 3 other nations: Report”. Nineteen hours later, the report was taken down but not before it was republished by several news outlets.

NDTV, Times Now, The Tribune, Livemint, The Economic Times, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Zee Hindustan, The Kashmir Monitor, Big News Network, Sakshi Post, Bangladesh-based The Financial Express and Gulf News were among the organisation that published the report claiming Saudi men cannot marry women from Pakistan, Chad, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Zee Hindustan even prefixed ‘Saudi new rule’ to the headline.

Some of the above-mentioned media outlets have deleted the report.

Propaganda outlets OpIndia and Kreately also amplified the claim. @KreatelyMedia tweeted, “Saudi govt issues order, asking men not to marry Pakistani women.” In the past @KreatelyMedia has posted misinformation on multiple occasions.

7-year-old report

ANI published a seven-year-old report as recent. The news was carried by Pakistan-based Dawn in August 2014, when multiple media outlets had also reported on the changed marriage laws in Saudi Arabia including BBC and India Today.

India Today stated that there was no official announcement by the Saudi government and BBC published its report based on Saudi newspaper Makkah and Pakistani outlet Dawn. Readers should note Makkah has since deleted its report.

In 2014, Pakistan Tribune published an editorial criticising Saudi Arabia’s marriage laws. Alt News couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of 2014 reports on the issue. However, we have reached out to the Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia and the Ministry of Justice, Saudi Arabia and this article will be updated upon their response. For more details on permission granted to a Saudi resident to marry a foreigner visit the website of the Saudi Arabian government. We were unable to find any mention of marriage prohibited with certain nationalities.

ANI’s now-deleted report had taken several portions from the 2014 report in Dawn. However, the news agency had omitted to mention that the report is old.

It is noteworthy that OpIndia has added an editor’s note to its story but the report is still available on the website. The note states, “This is a story from 2014 that was reported today and made viral by ANI and TimesNow.”

ANI published the report after it was viral on Twitter

Alt News noticed that prior to ANI’s story, several Twitter users had shared the 2014 report by Dawn including columnists Tarek Fatah and Rakesh Thiyya and Col Vinod.S (Retd).

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About the Author

🙏 Blessed to have worked as a fact-checking journalist from November 2019 to February 2023.