Saudi amendment to citizenship law

Saudi amendment to citizenship law

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A royal decree was issued recently to approve the amendment of article eight of the Saudi nationality law, which grants Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, prime minister of Saudi Arabia, the authority to grant citizenship.

The amendment included the phrase “in granting the Saudi nationality (by order of the prime minister based on a proposal from the minister of interior)” instead of “by a decision of the minister of interior.”

It is important to refer to the old article before it was amended, as previously article eight stipulated that “Saudi nationality may be granted by a decision of the minister of interior to a person born inside the Kingdom of a foreign father and a Saudi mother if the following conditions are met: to have permanent residence status in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia upon reaching the age of maturity; good conduct and behavior; and the applicant must have never been convicted of a criminal judgment or [served] a prison sentence for a moral crime for a period of more than six months.”

In addition, the law required the applicant to be fluent in Arabic and submit a request to be granted Saudi Arabian nationality within the year following the age of maturity.

It is also important to note that the new royal decree does not contain an explicit text that requires the granting of Saudi nationality to the children of female citizens as soon as they are born to a Saudi mother.

It is important to understand the amendment as many social media platforms took it to mean the immediate granting of Saudi nationality.

It is worth noting that it is not permissible for a Saudi to acquire foreign nationality without prior permission from the prime minister, and a Saudi who obtains it before obtaining such permission shall stay considered a Saudi unless a royal authority decides to revoke his or her nationality.

Dimah Talal Al-Sharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif



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