JEDDAH, 14 February 2005 — Expatriates seeking Saudi citizenship can apply within two to three months, according to a top official.
“A working team has been appointed to prepare the naturalization law’s executive regulations, which will allow the department of civil status affairs to receive applications for citizenship. The Ministry of Interior will announce the executive laws within two or three months,” said Nasser ibn Muhammad Al-Hanaya, undersecretary at the Ministry for Civil Status Affairs.
Expatriates of all nationalities are entitled to apply for Saudi citizenship, the official said. More than a million expatriates, out of a total six million in the country, are expected to benefit by the amended law, which was passed by the Council of Ministers in October last year.
“Going abroad on re-entry visas will not disqualify an applicant,” the official said referring to the condition that an applicant must have stayed not less than 10 years in the Kingdom continuously.
Referring to the job requirements mentioned in the new law, Hanaya said holders of degrees in medicine, computer science and other branches of science and technology would be given priority.
“The amended law has increased the applicants’ period of stay in the Kingdom from five to 10 years in order to help them acclimatize with the country’s culture and traditions and interact positively with members of society,” he said.
Shubaily Al-Qarni, chairman of the security committee which supervised amendments to the law, said Saudi citizenship would be open to all foreign nationals working in the Kingdom. “The law does not aim at a particular nationality. It covers all expatriates in the country,” he said.
But press reports said Palestinians living in the Kingdom would be barred as the Arab League has instructed that Palestinians living in Arab countries should not be given citizenship to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland.
Spelling out the clauses for revoking citizenship, Hanaya said a person would lose his Saudi citizenship if he works for the interest of another country or commits treachery or plots against the country or joins a foreign army or gains citizenship of another country without taking prior permission from Saudi authorities.
“As per the new law, a Saudi woman married to a foreigner is given the option either to accept the citizenship of her husband’s country or keep her own citizenship,” Okaz Arabic daily quoted Hanaya as saying.