Saudi Arabia to allow mothers to pass citizenship on to their children

Saudi Arabia to allow mothers to pass citizenship on to their children
Children born of Saudi mothers will now be eligible for citizenship upon reaching the age of 18.
2 min read
13 January, 2023
Applicants must speak Arabic and be of "sound moral character" according to reports [Getty images]

Saudi women can now pass on citizenship to children born of foreign spouses once they reach the age of 18, in a major change to the kingdom’s citizenship laws that has been debated since 2016. 

King Salman bin Abdul Aziz issued a royal decree this week amending Article 8 of the Saudi Arabian Nationality System, in the first change since 2021. 

"A person who is born in the Kingdom to a foreign father and a Saudi mother may be granted Saudi citizenship if certain requirements are met," said the amendment. 

According to Saudi media outlets, the child must be fluent in Arabic, be a permanent resident, and be of "good conduct and sound character". 

It is not clear whether children of Saudi women who apply for citizenship via the new route must be Muslim. 

Live Story

The authority to grant citizenship to foreign nationals has also been granted to the prime minister as part of the changes. 

Saudi citizenship rules do not generally recognise dual nationality - except if a Saudi woman marries a foreign citizen and wishes to keep both nationalities. 

The last royal decree to change how foreign nationals can be naturalised in the Saudi kingdom granted citizenship options for experts and specialists in selected fields. 

Global experts within the "religious, medical, scientific, cultural, sports and technological fields" were made eligible to apply for citizenship - at the discretion of the government.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the only two Gulf countries to grant such a citizenship route, although others have discreetly given nationality to some non-locals.