Awaiting Citizenship For 25 Years

By Arab News | Al-Badaie
31 October 2010

Born to a Saudi father, Samiya and Fahd have been desperately trying to obtain Saudi citizenship for nearly 25 years and hope to one day be recognized as Saudis.

The siblings, who were orphaned in childhood, have led miserable lives, as they have no documents proving they are Saudi. As a result their case has been pending at the Civil Affairs Department for a long time, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported.

Samiya’s father was from Onaiza in the Qassim region and was very poor. “It was in pursuit of a livelihood that my father moved to Kuwait and worked as a shepherd there. After marriage, my parents lived in Al-Zubair, a town located between Kuwait and Iraq,” she said, adding that her father was a Saudi citizen and had a Saudi ID card.

“My father struggled to make ends meet and his death was a real shock for my mother. Soon after he died, she became sick and paralyzed. She died when I was nine. At that time my brother Fahd was less than two. My elder sister was 11 and I had another two brothers who died at a very young age,” she said.

It was after her parents’ death that Samiya and her brother tried to get Saudi nationality. “First we approached the Saudi Embassy in Kuwait. Three prominent figures from Qassim who knew my father well accompanied us. They certified that our father was from Onaiza and that they knew him. As a result of this, the embassy issued a document facilitating our travel to the Kingdom. This was 24 years ago,” she said.

“Then we arrived in Riyadh where we met with a family who used to live in Al-Zubair. It was a member of that family who contacted my nephews and we accordingly reached Buraidah. One of our nephews took us to Onaiza Passport Office where he told officials that he had never seen us before and that he only recently came to know that he has some relatives in Kuwait,” she said.

At this, the officials deported them to Kuwait. “They took us in a vehicle to the border entry point of Al-Salmi. The Kuwaiti authorities, however, refused to give us permission to enter Kuwait as we were considered foreigners and so we returned to Onaiza,” she said, adding that the root cause of their problem lies in the loss of their father’s ID card and other documents.

Samiya said they lived in a dilapidated mud house for some time. “Later on, a benevolent man arranged a small house for us and we moved there. He would also accompany us to court and was successful in getting us a document showing we were Saudi citizens. That generous man also managed to secure us a certificate from Markaz Howailan, a village near Buraidah where my father lived for some time,” she said.

Samiya and Fahd’s misery then became worse after their eldest sister died from cancer at King Saud Hospital in Onaiza. As a result of not having Saudi citizenship, the siblings have been denied other benefits that are given to poor Saudis.

Samiya is, however, optimistic the Civil Affairs Department will look into their case and grant them citizenship. She added that she has a document issued by a court in Onaiza stating they are Saudi and that there are several Saudis who support their claim to citizenship.

Fahd called on members of the public to support them. “The citizenship problem even stood in the way of my education. During the Gulf crisis following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the government facilitated school education for Kuwaiti children who had fled to the Kingdom. I also benefited from it and studied for three years. I was later dismissed from school because of my inability to produce any documents proving I was Saudi,” he said.

Abdullah Al-Jotaili, a lawyer who has been dealing with Samiya and Fahd’s case, urged the Civil Affairs Department to grant the pair Saudi nationality. “They have documents showing that their father was a Saudi citizen from the Najd region, and this was also testified to by a number of prominent figures in front of the Onaiza court,” he said, calling for steps to end their suffering and restore their legal rights as citizens.

Photo Credit: Farraj Al-Khaldi

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Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

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