Saudi Arabia gave ‘citizenship’ to a robot named Sophia, and Saudi women aren’t amused
By Heba Kanso | Reuters
Women married to foreigners in the gender-segregated nation cannot pass on citizenship to their children.
The creation of the world’s first cyborg citizen is the latest surprise announcement from the Sunni Muslim kingdom, which granted women the right to drive last month and to watch events in all-male sports stadiums for the first time next year.
Shaikh hopes for greater reform as she is worried about the future of her daughter who only has a residency card.
“I want her to have all the privileges of her mum,” Shaikh told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
“I want her to feel welcomed even if I am not here.”
A guardianship system in Saudi Arabia also requires a male family member to grant permission for a woman to study abroad, travel and other activities.
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“I’m wondering if robot Sophia can leave Saudi Arabia without her guardian consent!” tweeted Saudi feminist, Moudi Aljohani, who is based in the United States.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan are some of the Middle Eastern countries that also do not allow women married to foreigners to pass on citizenship to their children.
“It creates a lot of problems,” said Suad Abu-Dayyeh, a Middle East expert with Equality Now, a global advocacy organisation, calling for restrictions on women’s rights to be lifted across the region.
“They were born and raised there – but it is not their country.”