Saudi women are outraged that a robot has more freedoms than they do


Published: 2017-11-02 10:05

Last Updated: 2024-06-15 06:58

Happy to be gaining full rights and freedoms (Youtube)
Happy to be gaining full rights and freedoms (Youtube)

There’s been an outcry from women in Saudi Arabia against the government’s decision to grant citizenship to a female robot, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported yesterday.

Women in the Kingdom are outraged that the robot, who does not need to cover her head in public or need a male guardian, has greater freedoms than they do.

Sophia the robot was officially named a citizen of Saudi Arabia last week at the tech summit Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.

She took to the stage to express her joy at her new found status: "I’m very honoured and proud for this unique distinction," Sophia said. "This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognised with a citizenship.”



That’s all very well for Sophia but Saudi Arabia’s real women haven’t been as enthusiastic about the surprise announcement.

They took to social media to point out the painful irony that a robot woman enjoys greater privileges and freedoms than her real female counterparts.


"It hit a sore spot that a robot has citizenship and my daughter doesn't," Hadeel Shaikh, a Saudi woman whose four-year-old child with a Lebanese man does not have citizenship, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Women married to foreigners are unable to pass on their citizenship to their children.

"I'm wondering if robot Sophia can leave Saudi Arabia without her guardian consent!" tweeted Saudi feminist, Moudi Aljohani.

Saudi guardianship laws require a male relative to grant permission before women can travel abroad.

The granting of citizenship to Sophia is the latest in a series of announcements that have drawn attention to women’s rights in the deeply conservative Kingdom.

Women were only granted the right to drive this year and last week the government announced that they would be allowed to enter sports stadiums.