Saudi Arabia has announced it will grant citizenship to certain to selected foreign nationals, following the passing of a law, allowing Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to do so, upon the proposal from the Minister of Interior earlier this year.
This represents a major change from the previous regulations, as Article 28 of the Executive Regulations of the Saudi Nationality Law, which required the Minister of Interior to issue necessary decisions to grant nationality in accordance with Article 8 of the Law, has been deleted.
The decision was made public on the official Twitter account of the Makkah Al-Mukarramah, quoting the Ministry of Interior as saying. The amendment was published in the official gazette Um Al Qura. In January, a royal decree was issued to approve the amendment of Article 8 of the Saudi Nationality Law, becoming law on 13 March.
According to the amendment, a person born to a Saudi mother and a foreign father may apply for citizenship upon meeting the following criteria: they must be over the age of 18, must be fluent in Arabic language, must have “good conduct and behaviour”, and should not have been imprisoned for a period of more than six months.
However, some activists have already expressed concerns over the changes to the law, arguing that it will make it even more difficult for Saudi women to attain naturalisation for their children with more legal hurdles. Currently, children whose father is a Saudi national are automatically granted citizenship, which is the case for most states in the region.
In November 2021, the kingdom passed a royal decree granting citizenship to “experts and exceptional global talents,” becoming the second Gulf state after the UAE to introduce a formal naturalisation programme for foreigners with specialised skills.