‘Privileged residency’ move for children of Saudi women married to non-Saudis hangs fire in Shoura Council

Despite the rejection of the proposal by the council’s Security Affairs Committee twice, the move is still being pushed by some of the members who proposed it

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. A Saudi woman speaks on a phone as she walks on a sidewalk in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 21, 2017.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A Saudi woman speaks on a phone as she walks on a sidewalk in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 21, 2017.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

RIYADH — The proposal calling for an amendment in the residency permit (Iqama) regulation in favor of the children of Saudi women married to non-Saudi men has entered a new round of discussions in the Shoura Council as proponents of the move are holding firm to their stance.

Despite the rejection of the proposal by the council’s Security Affairs Committee twice, the move is still being pushed by some of the members who proposed it.

Eight Shoura members, including Lateefa Al-Sha’lan, Faisal Aal Fadhil, Leena Al-Maeena, Aaliyah Al-Dahlawi, Noora Al-Musaed, Ataa Al-Subaiti, Moudhi Al-Khalaf, and Huda Helaisi presented their proposal during the previous Shoura session and three of the proponents — Al-Maeena, Al-Musaed and Al-Khalaf — have left the council.

However, the Security Affairs Committee’s rejection of the proposed draft regulation and proponents’ holding on to their proposal, has caused deferment of the forthcoming session, with the five proponents still remaining in the current Shoura Council.

The proposal calls for the addition of a new article to the Iqama regulation that will enable the children of Saudi women married to non-Saudi men to get permanent residency permits (Iqamas) for an indefinite period and without paying any fee.

However, the relief should be given to children of those women whose marriages to non-Saudi men have been approved by the pertinent authorities, and their marriage contracts have been authenticated and attested by the concerned authorities.

The presenters of this proposal assert that their proposal will contribute to achieving the terms of the international charters, conventions and agreements the Kingdom has signed on human rights in general, and child and women’s rights in particular.

It also contributes to raising the Kingdom’s competitiveness and its rating on compliance with the international agreements and charters, in the human rights record. The committee did not take this vital aspect into consideration when it rejected the proposal.

The proponents of the proposal protest against the “Privileged residency permit,” that enables foreign investors of various nationalities and cultures to stay in Saudi Arabia for a long time in return for a financial amount, and those who have been given “Privileged residency permits” also enjoy several rights and privileges.

In their viewpoint, children of Saudi women married to non-Saudi men should also be granted the privileges foreign investors enjoy without paying any fee.

The proponents of the proposal stress that the current iqama regulation grants permanent residency permits to non-Saudis and certain categories, for humanitarian considerations, hence, confirming the right of the children of a Saudi woman married to a non-Saudi to be entitled to the same in the Kingdom.

It is noteworthy that this proposal for amendment of the iqama regulation, which is still in a state of flux, was preceded by a similar Shoura recommendation presented by five of the Council’s members at that time — Al-Maeena, Al-Sha’lan, Al-Musaed, Aal Fadhil, and Al-Helaisi — which when presented for voting in September 2019, won 74 votes (just two votes short of the required majority votes of 76).

 

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