JEDDAH, 3 January 2004 — The Shoura Council will return to the issue of softening the Kingdom's naturalization law as soon the Interior Ministry has redrafted some of its articles, Al-Jazirah daily reported yesterday.
There was heated debate of the new bill in the 120-member consultative body about two months ago, with some members calling for the revision of the entire law, not just the eight articles submitted to the council.
According to the new proposals, foreigners who have been living in the Kingdom continuously for no less than 10 years may be able to apply for Saudi citizenship.
Saudi Arabia naturalized 15,058 people in the four years from 1989 to 1992, the paper said. "This indicates that the government is still giving citizenship to more people in accordance with the law," it added.
"It is expected that the new draft law will be submitted to the Shoura shortly after the security affairs committee gives its opinion on the new proposals in light of the Interior Ministry's response," the paper said.
Applicants for Saudi citizenship must be fluent in written and spoken Arabic and have a profession that is needed in the Kingdom, the new proposals said. They must not have served more than six months in jail and must show evidence that they have been earning their livelihood in a legitimate manner.
The citizenship of naturalized Saudis can be revoked by the Cabinet within 10 years on recommendation of the interior minister.