JEDDAH — The case of a young Syrian woman’s inheritance after the death of her husband — a millionaire Saudi businessman – came to the limelight once again after the Saudi Supreme Court’s recent directive to the Personal Status Court in Jeddah to reexamine the case and review its entire proceedings.
This was in response to a petition filed by the heirs of the deceased businessman, pleading to revoke the judgments issued by the lower courts in favor of the Syrian woman. According to the lower court verdict, the young woman is entitled to get SR80 million or more as an inheritance from the huge fortunes of her deceased husband. The Jeddah-based businessman died within two weeks after his misyar marriage with the woman that was held in a secret ceremony without the knowledge of his children and their mother.
Okaz/Saudi Gazette learned that the entire story dates back to about 10 years, when the businessman died, leaving behind huge fortunes amounting to around SR700 million. His children — ten sons and daughters, and their mother — were caught unawares when a young Syrian plaintiff, who is in her 20s, filed a lawsuit at the General Court in Jeddah, claiming that she was the wife of the late businessman.
She produced evidence before the court, including witnesses and a copy of the marriage contract signed by the deceased businessman. She also submitted documents of continuous correspondences that she had with the sons and daughters of the deceased before the Court of Appeal and obtained a court ruling that vindicates the validity of her marriage contract and included her among his heirs. However, the Supreme Court decided to quash the ruling and return the case to the Personal Status Court to reconsider the case in a legal manner by taking all the necessary legal measures.
Okaz/Saudi Gazette learned that the Syrian woman came to the Kingdom to meet the family of the businessman who was in her friendship circle. After some time, the businessman decided to marry her during his visit to Syria, according to what she mentioned in the case file. But their married life did not last long as the businessman died of a heart attack at his Jeddah home within two weeks after the marriage, leaving behind huge properties in Jeddah and various other regions of the Kingdom.
According to information obtained by Okaz/Saudi Gazette, the Syrian woman initially demanded SR300000 from her deceased husband’s wealth. When the heirs refused to grant her anything from the inherited properties, she asked for SR300000 only to waive the case she filed. When they refused to give even that amount, she approached the Jeddah General Court and eventually obtained rulings to add her to the heirs, and thus entitled to get SR80 million instead of SR300000.
The Court of Appeal in the Makkah Region upheld the preliminary rulings issued by the General Court in Jeddah last year. The Syrian widow obtained a judgment in absentia at the beginning, proving her marriage to the deceased, before counting his movable and immovable properties, and the heirs decided to object to the judgment and thus approached the Court of Appeal but the court upheld the judgment of the General Court, which included the ruling to add her to the rest of the heirs.
Consequently, the heirs approached the Supreme Court, pleading to revoke the judgments of the lower courts. The Supreme Court referred the case to the Personal Status Court by virtue of jurisdiction. According to the last judgment, the number of heirs reached 10 boys and girls, in addition to his Saudi wife. The businessman’s fortune is close to more than SR700 million. The estate of the deceased includes a large number of properties, including plots of land, buildings, hotels, and commercial markets in Makkah and Jeddah as well as in other 12 cities and governorates across the Kingdom, in addition to stock portfolios and bank balances.
According to the judgment document, the family of the late businessman insisted on their refusal to recognize their father’s marriage to the Syrian woman. They also challenged the authenticity of the document and the witnesses, claiming that the Syrian woman did not provide the legal evidence to prove her marriage.
Meanwhile, the lawyer of the plaintiff Misfer Al-Shawoosh said that the Syrian wife presented the legal evidence in terms of the testimony of the deceased husband’s brother, as well as the testimony of the deceased’s nephew, as they both testified that the deceased admitted to his marriage to the plaintiff and did not deny it as per what is proven in the preliminary judgment document.
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