Saudi women can apply for an official change of their names without the guardian’s approval. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Saudi women can apply for an official change of their names without the guardian’s approval, a local newspaper has reported, as the kingdom continues to empower females and remove restrictions on them.

The Interior Ministry’s Civil Affairs Agency has said a Saudi man or woman can change their data including names of the family, children and social status by visiting one of its branches, Okaz newspaper said.

The agency also said that a woman’s name can be changed without referring to her guardian by booking an appointment via the official website and checking for related procedures, according to the report.

The Saudi Interior Ministry has recently raised the age limit for changing a person’s first name from 15 to 18 years. According to the ministry’s stipulations, the name change should be applied for the first time only or for return to a previous name.

Recent amendments to the Saudi civil affairs system also stipulate that citizens aged below 18 can only have their first names changed after presenting a written consent from their parents or a power of attorney or through an application from the legal guardian.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has taken steps to empower women in different domains as part of dramatic socio-economic reforms in the country.

In 2018, the kingdom allowed women to drive for the first time in its history, ending a decades-old ban on female driving. Saudi authorities have also allowed women to travel without a male guardian’s approval and to apply for a passport, easing long-time controls on them.