JEDDAH: JASSIM ABUZAID
Published — Tuesday 26 March 2013
Last update 27 March 2013 8:02 pm
The Council of Ministers yesterday issued a new law making independent national identity cards mandatory for Saudi women within a period of seven years. Saudi males 15 years old and older should also obtain separate identity cards.
“A Saudi citizen completing 15 years of age must have a national ID card of his own, and this shall be optional for those between 10 and 15 years,” the new law said. The card shall be issued on the basis of the Central Civil Registry.
The new law added: “A Saudi woman must have a national ID card on the basis of a phased plan, but without exceeding seven years. Afterwards, a national identity card shall be the only way to prove her identity.”
Saudi women have welcomed the Cabinet decision. Mysar Jabr, a female student, said it was another step toward empowering women. “It is vital for women, especially when they are in business and serve as Shoura members. They are not just dependent members,”she told Arab News. “Many civil institutions and government departments require IDs to provide their services,” Jabr said. “Before, women had to bring at least one family member to identify her.”
Jabr said her friend’s father didn’t want his daughter to have her own national identity card, fearing that she will be independent and can do whatever she wants. “She never got the ID card until she got married,” Jabr said.
An official at the women’s section in the Civil Affairs Department in Jeddah told Arab News that the ID can be used by women to meet the requirements of various departments. She added that girls now have to get their own IDs when completing 18 years.
Arwa Turkistani, another student, was not very excited by the decision as she thinks that women would still require men besides them to complete most transactions. However, she said it is a good move that would give women at least have self satisfaction.