From time to time, there is renewed discussion about granting the children of Saudi women married to foreigners the kingdom’s citizenship, in an issue that has not ended its controversy for decades and entered the Shura Council more than once.
The sons of Saudi women believe that they deserve to obtain citizenship for considerations of birth, upbringing, and acquiring societal culture in the Gulf kingdom, but many Saudis reject this.
A few days ago, the hashtag “#Naturalization of the children of Saudi women is dangerous” spread on Twitter, in which many Saudis objected to granting citizenship to the children of female citizens for various reasons, including the security concern.
According to statistics published by local media, the number of children of Saudi women residing in the Kingdom is estimated at 1.5 million, while the number of Saudi women married to foreigners is 700,000.
Although the law gives the Minister of Interior the authority to naturalize children of Saudi women, many of this category find it difficult to obtain it even if they meet the conditions Saudi Arabian Nationality Law.
25-year-old Hourin Alem tells her story to the Al-Hurra channel website, and says that she applied for Saudi citizenship since she was 18 years old, according to the laws, but she has not obtained it yet.
The young woman, born to a Pakistani father and a Saudi mother, adds: “According to the regulations, we must submit the application according to certain conditions, including that the person must be 18 years old, and this is what I did after my older brother had previously taken the same step, but to no avail.”
For his part, Talal (a pseudonym) says that there is a law that gives children of Saudi women the right to acquire citizenship, but it is not activated for reasons he deems unknown.
According to the Saudi Arabian Nationality Law, a foreigner married to a Saudi woman has the right to acquire citizenship, “As for his children who have reached the age of majority during their father’s treatment cycle, the Minister of Interior may grant them citizenship (…) if their regular residence in the Kingdom is not less than five years, and they submit They requested this within a year from the date of granting their father citizenship.
Talal, who is born to a Saudi mother and a foreign father, confirmed that he has an official application for Saudi citizenship at the Ministry of Interior, but says he feels procrastinating in approving his application, as is the case with other similar cases.
In an interview with Al-Hurra, Talal added: “I have fulfilled all the conditions required by the Ministry of Interior to obtain citizenship, but I feel the delay in approving the application by the officials, as we hear a new justification whenever we go to the review.”
As for Alem, she says that the Saudi authorities give them different responses every time they go to review their applications, stressing that they deserve to obtain Saudi citizenship for several considerations.
And she continued, “I consider myself Saudi in everything except on official papers. I was born here, lived and grew up in the Kingdom. I acquired the customs and traditions of this dear country, and I know nothing about Pakistan.”
In the same direction, Talal indicated that he only knew Saudi Arabia as a homeland until he started defending it through social media; Because he does not feel belonging to another country, as he put it. He said that he had acquired the customs and traditions of the country and did not know anything about the heritage of his mother country.
Alam has never visited her home country of Pakistan, and she does not speak the Pakistani language at all.
She said, speaking in a Saudi accent, that she refuses to recognize Pakistan as a homeland, while Saudi Arabia refuses to recognize it as a citizen, according to her description. “I consider myself at a loss,” she says bitterly.
The Pakistani young woman pointed out that “the feeling of belonging for me is only to Saudi Arabia,” stressing that she is ready to serve the Kingdom, considering that Saudi Arabia has given her a lot, as she says, despite her treatment as a foreigner.
Alem confirmed that she is treated as a foreigner in official departments, despite the fact that children of Saudi women are given priority in employment after Saudis.
Talal, as well as Houran, did not visit his country, and was satisfied with renewing his passport at his country’s embassy in Riyadh.
Talal refuses to disclose his identity or any other personal information due to the sensitivity of the matter.
He said, “We are not satisfied with Saudi Arabia and do not accept that our case is used to offend the kingdom that embraces us with love. However, we would like to clarify the reasons for not implementing the Nationality Law by granting children of Saudi women who meet the conditions the honor of citizenship, or at least to grant permanent residence.”
In late May, Okaz newspaper said that the Saudi Shura Council would discuss a draft amendment to the residency system in favor of the children of female citizens married to non-Saudis, after it was rejected twice because of its rejection by the Security Affairs Committee.
On the other hand, the Saudi journalist and Secretary-General of the “Media Journalists” Association, Nasser Al-Gharbi, told Al-Hurra that the decision to obtain Saudi citizenship is sovereign for the Kingdom and cannot be interfered with.
Al-Gharbi added: “There are those who believe that some children of Saudi women really deserve to obtain citizenship, given that they were born in the Kingdom and acquired the culture of the country, but this matter is entrusted to the official authorities in accordance with the regulations and legislation that control and frame such matters.”
The Secretary-General of the “Media Journalists” Association also indicated that King Salman bin Abdulaziz did justice to the sons of Saudi women by enacting laws that give them priority in obtaining Saudi citizenship and give them many service privileges, explaining that “this royal appreciation” confirms the Kingdom’s interest in this category.
Last October, the Saudi monarch approved new amendments for the children of Saudi women who married foreigners with the approval of the competent authorities, including the state bearing their residency fees, allowing them to work for others in the private sector without transferring their sponsorship from their mother, in addition to treating them as Saudis in terms of study and treatment, and they are counted Within the Saudization rates in the private sector.
Al-Gharbi continues: “The Kingdom has white hands over many foreign communities without discrimination, and the sons of Saudi women cannot be subjected to injustice while they live in a country that has devoted its efforts to serving humanity and the welfare of its citizens and residents on its land.”
In addition, Talal comments on what is raised by some Saudis who refuse to grant the children of female citizens for security reasons, saying: “The security concern is everywhere, and the crime is not linked to a particular nationality. Moreover, there is a requirement of good conduct in entitlement to citizenship.”
Talal appealed to the Saudi Crown Prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to intervene in this case, which he described as “eternal” to bring justice to the sons of Saudi women who did not know other countries, according to him.
In this regard, the National Society for Human Rights considered granting citizenship to children of Saudi women married to non-Saudis as “a matter that needs greater attention.”
and in Permit Back in 2016, the President of the National Society for Human Rights, Dr. Mufleh Al-Qahtani, said, “The system of government in the Kingdom emphasizes the unity of the family, its support and strengthening its ties, and that the presence of different nationalities within the same family is one of the influences that lead to future difficulties.”
Al-Qahtani pointed out that the sons of Saudi women have integrated with the local community, and they do not know much about their countries of origin, explaining that the problems are exacerbated by these children in the event of the death of their foreign father.