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Saudi Arabia amends citizenship laws to include foreign nationals

March 19, 2023 at 3:11 pm

A Saudi woman receives her newly-issued passport at the Immigration and Passports Centre in the capital Riyadh. [Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia has announced it will grant citizenship to certain to selected foreign nationals, following the passing of a law, allowing Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to do so, upon the proposal from the Minister of Interior earlier this year.

The decision was made public on the official Twitter account of the Makkah Al-Mukarramah, quoting the Ministry of Interior. The amendment was published in the official gazette Um Al Qura on Friday. In January, a royal decree was issued to approve the amendment of Article Eight of the Saudi Nationality Law, becoming law on 13 March.

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According to the amendment, a person born to a Saudi mother and a foreign father may apply for citizenship upon meeting the following criteria: they must be over the age of 18, must be fluent in Arabic language, must have “good conduct and behaviour”, and should not have been imprisoned for a period of more than six months.

However, some activists have already expressed concerns over the changes to the law, arguing that it will make it even more difficult for Saudi women to attain naturalisation for their children with more legal hurdles. Currently, children whose father is a Saudi national are automatically granted citizenship, which is the case for most states in the region.

In November 2021, the kingdom passed a royal decree granting citizenship to “experts and exceptional global talents,” becoming the second Gulf state after the UAE to introduce a formal naturalisation programme for foreigners with specialised skills.

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