Egypt's State Council ruled on Sunday that Egyptian citizenship will be granted to children born of customary (urfi) marriages between Egyptian women and foreign men.
The court rejected an appeal filed by the Egyptian interior ministry against an Egyptian woman who was seeking to obtain Egyptian citizenship for her daughter from an urfi marriage to a Saudi citizen.
Urfi marriage contracts in Egypt are those which are not officially registered with the authorities, and simply require two witnesses.
In the early 2000s, urfi marriages started becoming more widespread in Egypt, with an increasing number of Egyptian women – especially from poor neighbourhoods – marrying foreign men in these unions
The State Council said that granting Egyptian citizenship to children of Egyptian fathers and mothers does not require that a marriage contract be officially registered.
According to the court, the registering of a marriage is not a main pillar of valid marriage contract.
The Egyptian mother named in the case had presented to the court documentation proving her marriage to her Saudi husband, as well as official documents obtained from the Saudi foreign ministry on the husband's approval of regularising his daughter's status in Egypt.
The court said that the state had a responsibility to protect mothers and enable them to fulfill their duties as parents and safeguard the interests of the children.