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Tue 25 Mar 2014 01:16 PM

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Saudi won't give my children citizenship, says Shoura Council member

Thuraya Obaid reportedly criticises Gulf kingdom for snub because she is married to a foreigner

Saudi won't give my children citizenship, says Shoura Council member

High-profile Shoura Council member Thuraya Obaid has criticised the kingdom for not allowing her children to have Saudi citizenship because she is married to a foreigner, it was reported.

In a speech to mark Women’s History Month, Obaid, who was named in CEO Middle East’s Most Powerful Arab Women’s list, also reportedly said the age of consent should be 18 - at which time women were no longer under male guardianship.

Obaid said the Cabinet decision to treat the children of a Saudi woman married to a foreigner as fully fledged Saudis had not been honoured by a large number of government departments, Saudi Gazette reported.

In her case, she was unable to get Saudi nationality for her daughters because their father is Lebanese, she said.

“Saudi women married to foreigners should be allowed to obtain nationality for their children on an equal footing with the Saudi men married to foreign women," she said.

She said children of Saudi women married to foreigners should be allowed to stay in the country with their mothers and receive the same treatment given to Saudi children in education and health.

Obaid, who is a former executive director of the UN Population Fund and was the first Saudi woman to win a government scholarship to study in the US in 1963, said she and other female members in the Shoura Council were trying to ensure Saudi women had access to “all their rights”.

This included proposals to amend the pension system to ensure women were paid their full pensions instead of the current scheme where husbands received the money of behalf of their wives.

"This is unjust to women and their children," she said.

Obaid said women Shoura Council members also asked to set the age of consent for women at 18, after which they should not be under the guardianship of men, the Gazette reported.

“When they reach this age, women should be considered mature and should no longer need to be under male guardianship,” she said.

She said the government and senior officials are supportive of women's rights but obtaining them would take time.

Princess Adila Bint Abdullah, who spoke at the function, was quoted as urging government ministries and non-governmental organisations to enable women to participate in the process of decision making.

“Women, who represent half of the society, are important pillars for development and progress,” she said.

She said Islam had given women all their rights but many Muslim societies were not heeding this.