A recent report from local media states that the interior ministry has banned 50 names banned in Saudi Arabia that purportedly contradict the culture or religion of the Kingdom.
Names Banned in Saudi Arabia
Parents in Saudi Arabia will no longer be able to name children any of the names banned in Saudi Arabia, including several Western names like Linda, Alice, Elaine or Binyamin (the Arabic spelling of Benjamin,) after the civil affairs department at the ministry issues a list of banned names.
Some of the names banned in Saudi Arabia have implications that conflict with religious beliefs, either through blasphemy or the fact that they are non-Arabic or non-Islamic. Binyamin is a particularly interesting addition, as the name in Islam is thought to be attributed to the son of Prophet Jacob. More impactful is the fact that it’s also the name of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu – leader of a country that has a bad relationship and significant religious differences when compared to Saudi Arabia.
Other names on the list were banned simply because they were foreign or deemed “inappropriate.” Some names with royal connotations like Malek (king,) Malika (queen,) and Sumuw (highness) were also included in the collections of new names banned in Saudi Arabia.
Despite these reasons for banning, at least a few names on the list don’t fall into any of the above categories, leading many officials and citizens alike scratching their heads at this decision.
We’ve compiled the list of names banned in Saudi Arabia below, courtesy of Gulf News. Is your name on the list?
- Malaak (angel)
- Abdul Aati
- Abdul Naser
- Abdul Musleh
- Binyamin (Arabic for Benjamin)
- Abdul Nabi
- Abdul Rasool
- Sumuw (highness)
- Al Mamlaka (the kingdom)
- Malika (queen)
- Mamlaka (kingdom)
- Tabarak (blessed)
- Rama (Hindu god)
- Basmala (utterance of the name of God)
- Jibreel (angel Gabriel)
- Abdul Mu’een
- Nabi (prophet)
- Nabiyya (female prophet)
- Amir (prince)
This recent list of names banned in Saudi Arabia reconfirms the disconnect between Saudi King Salman and the more conservative parts of the government. Salman has led a recent crackdown on corruption in government, imprisoning a large number of dirty officials who were purportedly holding the country back. Salman has also taken great steps towards liberalizing the country, with the recent decision allowing women to drive and the announcement of the reopening of movie theaters in the country.
The new list of names banned in Saudi Arabia is a reminder that the country is still set in its ways both religiously and culturally, for better or for worse, and that change will be met with great resistance. While a list of restricted names may not be a big deal – perhaps even to king Salman – it’s another reminder that the religious infrastructure in the country is still very much a large part of the fabric of Saudi society.