Manama: With around 700,000 Saudi women married to foreigners, the issue of granting Saudi citizenship to their children has gained traction on social media.
Under the current laws, only Saudi fathers can pass on their nationality to their children, whereas children born to Saudi mothers have to take their father’s citizenship.
Members of the Shura Council have recently pushed again for the amendment of the law to ensure that Saudi mothers can pass on their nationality.
The proposal is now with the security committee and its decision will be referred to the council for debate.
However, several people took to social media to express concerns about allowing such a large number of women to give the Saudi citizenship to their children while pointing out that more and more Saudi women were marrying foreigners.
Those who opposed granting Saudi citizenship to children of Saudi mothers cited social, economic and security concerns, claiming that the expected demographic changes would harm the harmonious composition of the society, threaten social peace, affect the economy and eventually put national security at risk, Saudi news site Sabq reported on Wednesday.
Those who supported the move argued that women had the right to transfer their citizenship and that their children had to lead normal lives as citizens of the kingdom.
They argued that since Saudi men married to foreign wives had all their rights, Saudi women married to foreigners should also be allowed to have the same rights.
On the economic front, the kingdom could benefit economically from the people born in Saudi Arabia and raised within a Saudi culture, those supportive of the proposal argued.
Within the Shura Council, member Fahd Bin Humood Al Enezi expressed his strong opposition to the proposal.
“The issue is not as simple as it looks, and although it may look like a matter of patriotism, it is not,” he posted on his Twitter account. “The fact is that even if mothers have an interest in the naturalisation of their non-Saudi children, there are interests for the state and the society that should not be overlooked and should be carefully considered and contemplated. If individual interests clash with collective interests, the priority should be for national interests. In such matters, there is no room for passion, and objectivity should prevail.”
He added that equality between men and women in marriage rights is within the circle of individual and personal rights, such as choosing the spouse.
“However, the consequences of the decision to marry a non-Saudi national are not within that circle of individual rights, but rather within national interests,” he said.
Columnist Hailah Abdullah also urged people to give the issue careful thought. “Maintaining and protecting the social components of your society and the natural demographics of your country is not racism. Do not be deceived by their dramatic slogans and acts aiming at depriving you of your humanity as if you commit a crime when you say no to naturalisation,” she said, quoted by Sabq.