This week, members of Saudi Arabia’s consultative assembly, the Shoura Council, called for the granting of permanent residency status for the children of Saudi women married to foreigners. According to reports by Okaz and Saudi Gazette, Latifa Al-Shaalan, Faisal Al-Fadel, Lina Almaeena, Noura Al-Musaed, and Huda Al-Holaisi presented the proposal, urging “the Ministry of Interior to make amendments in the executive bylaw of the Saudi Nationality Law to issue them iqama without any fee or long procedures.”
As pointed out by the reports, this proposal comes at a time when the number of marriages of Saudi women to foreigners is increasing, making it necessary for the Kingdom to look at various factors that are in support of revising the current status laws of children born in these marriages, factors such as “strengthening the family unity and cohesion, protection of the social fabric” and “enhancing the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 for all members and segments of the Saudi society in order to empower women and further consolidate their rights […] so as to provide stability and security for their children.”
In 2013, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the previously all-male consultative Shoura Council. Since then, the body has been working on improving the rights of women across the Kingdom through introducing new laws and restructuring old ones. For instance, in 2017, the matter of underage marriage of both Saudi and non-Saudi girls living in the Kingdom was brought to light with restrictions finally put in place regarding the issue. In 2018, members of the Shoura Council proposed a monetary compensation to be paid to divorced women.
In addition to that proposal was a recommendation to the ministry to cease accepting complaints against women who run away or disobey their families, as such complaints are often used to demonize women, create a dishonorable image of them in divorce suits, or used as legal leverage to threaten women and curb them from seeking divorce in court.