The justice ministry made its ruling under a law designed to prevent wealthy Arabs from the Gulf from snapping up young Egyptian girls and which forbids marriage when there is an age gap of 25 years or more.
The unidentified Saudi holidaymaker proposed marriage to a 17-year-old village girl and offered a dowry of about $US28,000 ($30,000) as well as gold jewellery, the source said.
"Her parents, who are very poor, accepted,'' he said.
But the justice ministry refused to register the marriage, citing the legislation brought in during the Gulf oil boom.
However, according to Egypt's Al-Akhbar newspaper, the authorities allowed 173 such marriages last year after the foreign husbands paid the equivalent of $US8,000 ($8,550) into the Egyptian National Bank.
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