Apple, Dweezil or Zaqam? Naming newborns in Saudi Arabia

Published March 15th, 2015 - 09:24 GMT

The names of newborns in Saudi Arabia has changed greatly in recent years due to increased cultural openness and the spread of knowledge within society. Unusual or rare names have been reduced due to the work of authorities across the Kingdom who have enacted regulations to curb exotic or strange names.

The most circulated names in the Kingdom include Mohammad, Fahd, Abdullah, Abdulrahman, Turki, Bandar, Omar, Ali, Fatima, Aisha, Nora, Hessa, Sheikha, and Maha.

Parents are no longer calling their children a variety of odd names, including Rashash (a gun machine), Zaqam (to do with the mouth) and Najar for boys, as well as Faziah (one who is afraid) and Mureibah (fearful) for girls.

Nowadays parents can find dictionaries for names in most bookshops and libraries in order to help them choose good names that suit their preferences. Reports suggest that some men become angry, hoping for a boy, after their wives give birth to girls. In such cases, they usually choose a distasteful name for their girls. However, such instances have declined due to increased awareness regarding the issue in the society.

Bodies like the social status department help people with odd names to change them.

According to the department, the majority of those who want to change their names are young males and females. To help people with odd names to avoid humiliation, lists of names have been published, highlighting names which under no circumstances should be used.

Dr. Iman Al Saied, professor at the King Saud University, believes that humans are closely linked to their names.  “Name of a person is an integrated part of his or her psychological context. Some names may induce laughing, provoke sarcasm and mockery, or may simply be repulsive or ugly, which might inflict harm on the person, leading him to lose self-confidence.

“In such cases, the person becomes depressed and prefers to be left alone. Such feelings distances him or her from family members and friends,” she said.  “It is in the lawful rights of a Muslim person to be named a good, worthy name.” Muhammad Al-Jasser, spokesman at the Civil Status Department, said there are controls and regulations in place when choosing a name for the newborn.

“We urge citizens to give names that are compatible with Islamic law to their newborns,” he said, adding that the department always issues directions in this regard.

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