Saudi Arabia’s government is keen to protect the status quo and doesn’t want to compromise its cultural values or standard of living by allowing foreigners to become a permanent part of society. Your only route to becoming a naturalised citizen is by marriage to a national; even this, however, doesn’t guarantee citizenship, particularly for non-Muslims.
In exceptional circumstances only, the King might grant citizenship to a foreigner who has provided outstanding service to the state over a number of years. A generous employer might reward a loyal worker who has made a major contribution to the company over many years by providing him with a work and residence permit of indefinite duration. After your retirement, however, the employer would have to be a figure of considerable influence to maintain this gift and satisfy the labour authorities. In this case, you wouldn’t be a citizen, but merely be allowed to remain in the country indefinitely.
Children of foreigners born in Saudi Arabia don’t have rights of local citizenship and automatically assume the nationality of the parents. If one of the parents is a national of Saudi Arabia, the child will usually be granted local nationality and may later become a national of Saudi Arabia and obtain a local passport.
It’s recommended that you fully acquaint yourself with the implications of giving birth in Saudi Arabia. In many cases, the child isn’t affected, but any children that he has might not enjoy the same rights of nationality, citizenship, abode, etc. as his parents and grandparents.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Gulf States & Saudi Arabia. Click here to get a copy now.