Saudi Arabia Accepts First Round of Naturalized Citizens

12/09/2021 Saudi Arabia (International Christian Concern) – Saudi Arabia recently announced the first batch of 27 newly naturalized citizens. No non-Muslims appeared on the list, unless their religious identity was hidden, though those of the Shiite faith did appear. The kingdom’s move towards religious tolerance seeks to promote the country’s competitiveness for foreign talent. Unlike its neighbor competitors, like the UAE, Qatar, Turkey and others, however Saudi Arabia has not yet legalized non-Muslim worship or the building of houses of non-Muslim worship.

At least two new citizens from the first batch hold significant beliefs or actions that go against Saudi Arabia’s historical views. This includes Shiite backgrounds, links to Iranian-backed Hezbollah, and the promotion of Jewish-Arab dialogue, among others.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman encouraged the promotion of a more moderate Islam and religious tolerance. This also includes nods towards women’s rights and social and economic change. While the new decrees are socially liberal, they are politically autocratic, demanding submission to authority and a limitation in other freedoms. The goal appears to be a top-down effort for religious reforms to negate extremism and promote tolerance and rational thinking.

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