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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 May, 2004, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Saudis 'ease mixed marriage law'
Saudi Arabia's Consultative Council has endorsed a new immigation bill which would make mixed marriages easier by allowing Saudi women to keep their citizenship upon marrying foreigners.

The proposed legislation would also enable foreign women who marry Saudi men to apply for nationality.

On the other hand, foreign residents will not be able to apply for citizenship until they have lived in Saudi Arabia for at least 10 years - instead of the current requirement of five years.

The Council, or Shura, is a hand-picked 60-member debating chamber whose bills are normally proposed by the government departments. Amendments it decides upon are not binding on the government.

In recent years, Saudi nationality had become increasingly difficult to obtain, compared with the 1960s when the kingdom was more liberal in granting citizenship to residents.

Changes in Saudi society mean that more men and women are marrying foreigners than when the existing legislation came into force 50 years ago.


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