Saudi Arabia: Women allowed to change names without guardian’s consent

Cairo: Saudi women can apply for an official change of their names without the guardian’s approval, a local newspaper has reported, as the kingdom continues to empower females and remove restrictions on them.

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The Interior Ministry’s Civil Affairs Agency has said a Saudi man or woman can change their data including names of the family, children and social status by visiting one of its branches, Okaz newspaper said.

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The agency also said that a woman’s name can be changed without referring to her guardian by booking an appointment via the official website and checking for related procedures, according to the report.

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The Saudi Interior Ministry has recently raised the age limit for changing a person’s first name from 15 to 18 years. According to the ministry’s stipulations, the name change should be applied for the first time only or for return to a previous name.

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Recent amendments to the Saudi civil affairs system also stipulate that citizens aged below 18 can only have their first names changed after presenting a written consent from their parents or a power of attorney or through an application from the legal guardian.

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In recent years, Saudi Arabia has taken steps to empower women in different domains as part of dramatic socio-economic reforms in the country.

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In 2018, the kingdom allowed women to drive for the first time in its history, ending a decades-old ban on female driving. Saudi authorities have also allowed women to travel without a male guardian’s approval and to apply for a passport, easing long-time controls on them.

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