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Saudi women could be allowed to pass citizenship rights

Saudi women are banned from driving and are required to cover themselves in public [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 October, 2016

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A proposal to allow women to pass on their citizenship to children from non-Saudi spouses is set to be discussed by Saudi Shura Council next month.
Saudi Arabia's Shura Council is set to discuss a proposal to allow women to pass on their citizenship to children from non-Saudi spouses, the Saudi Gazette reported.

The consultative assembly will meet next month to deliberate over the proposal, which was reviewed a month ago.

Shura member Latifah al-Shalan had drafted the proposal along with other council members including Ata al-Subaiti, Haya al-Minai, Wafa Taibah and Thurayah Ubaid.

"We must review some of the old laws," al-Shalan told the Saudi Gazette. "The nationality law has been amended a few times even though it has been in place for 60 years. Things have changed since then. The country has developed."

The proposal only focuses on granting the children of Saudi women the right to citizenship but not their husbands.

"More and more Saudi women are marrying foreigners. This is a worrying trend. We must protect our social fabric. Saudi women should have the right to grant their children Saudi nationality," she added.

Rights activists criticised the move, adding that the proposal was not enough to make sure women in Saudi Arabia received equal rights.

"Even if the proposal passes, it is not enough for Saudi women to pass on their citizenship to their children alone," Nawal al-Sabir told The New Arab. "Like men, Saudi women should have the right to pass on their citizenship to their spouses as well."

Rights groups have long spoken out against discrimination against women in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi women are banned from driving and are required to cover themselves in public.

They are subject to other routine restrictions including the need to have the permission of a male guardian to leave the country.

"Saudi women do not received equal rights and are still being treated as second class citizens," al-Sabir told The New Arab.

Meanwhile, rights activist Suhaila Zein al-Abidein hailed the move as a step closer to granting women equal rights.

"The right for Saudi women to pass on their citizenship to their children must be attained," she told The New Arab. "And this is an important step towards obtaining full and equal rights."

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