A Million Expatriates to Benefit From New Citizenship Law
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News
JEDDAH, 21 October 2004 — Expatriates of all nationalities are entitled to apply for Saudi citizenship and their travels abroad with re-entry visas will not disqualify them, press reports said yesterday quoting senior officials.
Nasser ibn Hamad Al-Hanaya, undersecretary for civil status at the Interior Ministry, said the executive bylaw for the Kingdom’s amended naturalization law would be ready within four months. “We will look into applications only after the executive bylaw is issued,” Okaz Arabic daily quoted Hanaya as saying.
He estimated that more than a million expatriates would benefit by the amended law, which was passed by the Council of Ministers on Monday. There are nearly 8.8 million expatriates, mostly Asians and Arabs, in the Kingdom.
Shubaily ibn Majdoue Al-Qarni, chairman of the security committee which supervised amendments to the law, said Saudi citizenship would be open for all nationals working in the Kingdom. “The law does not aim at a particular nationality. On the other hand, it covers all expatriates in the country,” he told Al-Madinah.
But Al-Watan Arabic daily reported that the naturalization law would not be applicable to Palestinians living in the Kingdom as the Arab League has instructed that Palestinians living in Arab countries should not be given citizenship to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland.
Diplomatic sources have estimated the number of Palestinians in the Kingdom at about 500,000. There are large concentrations of Palestinians in the country’s western, central, eastern and northern provinces.