Saudi women married to foreigners will be allowed to sponsor their spouses and children, local media reported earlier this week. Under the ruling, those eligible will be granted residency permits, aka iqamas, with their mothers named as the sponsors. The children would have the right to work in the private sector while still on the sponsorship of their Saudi mothers, an official spokesman said. The same goes for the husband.
This is good news for many families of Saudi women married to foreigners, but Okaz columnist Khaled al-Sulaiman says it is not good enough:
In most countries, it is a God-given right for children to obtain the nationality of their mother or at least be given the option to choose between the nationality of their mother and that of their father. These countries do not differentiate between the rights of the mothers and the fathers. Nationalization does not differentiate in duties and responsibilities between men and women. They are both citizens with equal rights and duties.
In my opinion, the acceptable level of justice would be to give the choice to the children of a Saudi mother and a foreign father the right to choose their nationality when they reach the age of 18 years. If they choose to obtain the nationality of their mother, then they should relinquish that of their father. In the worse case scenario, these children should be given special residency permit (iqama) without the need for any sponsor (kafeel).
Considering how slow the government has moved when it comes to relaxing nationality laws, this is unlikely to happen any time soon.