Saudi Arabian nationality law

Saudi nationality law, officially called the Saudi Arabian Citizenship System, is the law that determines who is a Saudi citizen. Foreigners are given citizenship if they meet the terms and conditions.

Saudi Arabian Citizenship Act
Parliament of Saudi Arabia
Enacted byGovernment of Saudi Arabia
Status: Current legislation

Original Saudis

Anyone who was born or resided on Saudi Arabian land from 1332 Hijra – 1914 A.D. until 22/3/1345 Hijra provided that they did not acquire a foreign citizenship prior to this date.

By birth

A child born in Saudi Arabia to a non-Saudi father and a Saudi mother has the right to Saudi citizenship upon reaching the age of majority if they fulfill the following:

  • have permanent residency
  • be fluent in Arabic.
  • the grandfather of the mother must be saudi.
  • getting an approval from the highest authority in the country (The King).

Children born to unknown parents in Saudi Arabia automatically get citizenship until the identities of the parents are known. Children born to foreigners do not have the right to citizenship, but may be given nationality if they have a Saudi father.

Before the 1970s, anybody who was born in Saudi Arabia has the right to citizenship. They must apply for the citizenship at the age of 18, before turning 19.

By descent

Children born to a Saudi father or an unknown or stateless father and Saudi mother could be a Saudi citizen if the conditions are satisfied.

By marriage

A foreign woman who marries a Saudi man has right to citizenship provided that she gives up her foreign citizenship. Saudi women who give up citizenship upon marriage to a foreign husband (the marriage should complete 10 years and should have 3 children) has the right to take up Saudi citizenship if she divorces or returns to Saudi Arabia.

By naturalization

A foreigner may apply for citizenship if they fulfill the following:

  • Above the age of maturity.
  • Generally mentally competent.
  • Legal residence for 10 years continuously, including five years as a permanent resident.
  • Have legal ways of earning a living.
  • Considered generally moral.
  • Do not have a criminal record.
  • Read, write, and speak fluent Arabic.[1]

The application is sent to the prime minister, who is advised by the Ministry of Interior. They may or may not reject the application with no given reason. Wives of naturalized citizens have the right to Saudi citizenship, their minor children automatically become Saudis if living in the country. If the children are not living in the country, they remain non-Saudis and have right to take up Saudi nationality upon reaching age of maturity, if the naturalized male citizen has female relatives who have the male citizen as their guardian, they will also have right to citizenship.

Loss of citizenship

Loss of Saudi citizenship may occur due to one of the following reasons:

  • Works for another country's military.
  • Works for another country's government.
  • Holds a passport of another nation without permission from the King. Dual citizenship is permitted only by birth in a foreign country which allows/enforces citizenship by birth.

Saudi citizens cannot give up their citizenship without permission; however, the government can revoke someone's nationality if the person is a terrorist threat, as in the case of Osama bin Laden.[2]

Dual nationality

Saudis are not permitted to acquire any foreign citizenship without the permission of the Prime Minister. If a Saudi Citizen acquired a foreign Citizenship without this permission, they will be considered Saudi unless the Saudi Government revokes their Saudi Citizenship according to the terms of Article 13: takes up foreign Citizenship without permission of the Prime Minister; works for another country's military; works for the benefit of a foreign Government during wartime with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; works for a foreign Government or International Organisation despite the Saudi Government's order for them to quit.[3]

Travel freedom

In 2018, Saudi citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 74 countries and territories, ranking the Saudi passport 60th in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index.

References

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