Ghada Kaakani is a Lebanese woman, while her husband, Bassam Al Hidiq, is a Palestinian. They have been married for 40 years.
Ghada Kaakani is a Lebanese woman, while her husband, Bassam Al Hidiq, is a Palestinian. They have been married for 40 years.

Law that deprives Lebanon’s children of their nationality

BEIRUT // Ghada Kaakani glances over with a smile as her husband recounts their first meeting in a Lebanese mountain village more than 40 years ago.

Bassam Al Hidiq was a Palestinian refugee in his twenties.

His family settled in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon after fleeing their home in Acre when Israel was created in 1948.

After what Mr Al Hidiq described simply as a "love story", they married and went on to have four children. Both say they were unaware of the challenges they would face as a family where the wife is Lebanese married to a foreign man.

"We were naive," says Mr Al Hidiq, now 67, as his wife nods in agreement, interjecting: "We didn't think of the practical things."

They included being able to provide their children with Lebanese citizenship at birth. The Al Hidiqs' two daughters are now citizens, having married Lebanese men. Their two sons are not and have only the travel documents issued to them as Palestinian refugees.

"It's not fair. I am Lebanese and it's painful," said Mrs Kaakani, 60. "The government must give me a passport for my children."

Lebanon's nationality law, which dates back to the 1920s, bars Lebanese women, unlike men, from passing their nationality to their children or spouses.

Estimates place the number of families affected by the law at about 16,000, but it is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure. Lebanon's last official census was in 1932.

Activists are hoping this all might change in the not-too-distant future.

Lebanon's cabinet discussed the matter last month and the government's National Commission for Lebanese Women, chaired by the first lady Wafaa Suleiman, drafted a bill that would allow Lebanese women married to foreign men to pass citizenship to their children. "First of all, we say no discrimination between men and women in granting citizenship to their children," said Fadi Karam, the commission's secretary-general.

The draft law envisions that after the age of 18, children of a Lebanese mother and father who is a Palestinian refugee registered in Lebanon would have a one-year window in which to apply for Lebanese citizenship.

The decision would be based on a set of criteria such as not being guilty of a criminal offence and having been resident in Lebanon for 10 consecutive years.

But, before this can happen, the proposed legislation needs to be reviewed and passed by the cabinet and then the parliament - a process Mr Karam concedes could take two years or more.

Lebanon's judiciary dealt with the issue in 2009 when John Azzi was the first judge to rule in favour of a family trying to apply for citizenship for the children of a Lebanese mother and foreign father.

His ruling was overturned by an appeals court, but he says that since the case, the debate has been reframed.

"For me as a judge, I make all judgments in the name of the Lebanese people and all Lebanese are equal in front of me," said Mr Azzi, who has written a book about this experience, A Journey of Life to Nationality. "Men and women in Lebanon should be treated equally in all matters," he said.

"I believe like the march of history all things will change, maybe not tomorrow, but after tomorrow."

Traditionally, the argument against such reforms in Lebanon has focused on the issue of the country's delicate sectarian demographic balance - there are 18 recognised religious sects and a delicate power-sharing system - as well as the policy of non-naturalisation of Palestinian refugees who maintain their right to return to their homeland.

However, Lina Abou Habib, the executive director of the Beirut-based Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action - which has worked extensively on the issue - dismissed the arguments as "simply ridiculous".

"There is no relationship between reforming the nationality law so that women have equal rights to men and denying the right of return to Palestinians," she said.

"For the demographic balance in terms of the confessional system, either we have to accept diversity and citizenship is based on citizenship rights not on affiliation, or demographics will always be used [as a political tool]. The rights of women do not in any way jeopardise any kind of balance."

Instead, Ms Abou Habib blames pervasive patriarchal beliefs as the reason Lebanese women continue to be denied the same citizenship rights as men.

"It is a situation where the state does not consider women as citizens, and one way in which you control women is to control their choices," she said.

"So you marry outside these choices, then you're an outcast and that is a way where the state - as part of that patriarchal system - controls women."

She said the recent progress on the issue has been "positive" - a sentiment echoed by Mrs Kaakani and her husband, Bassam. "Inshallah, they will change the law because these days they are talking about it a lot more," Mrs Kaakani said. "Hopefully the government is trying to make a change."


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Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

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1. Baghdad, Iraq
2. Manama, Bahrain
3. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
4. Kuwait City, Kuwait
5. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
6. Ash Shihaniyah, Qatar
7. Abu Dhabi, UAE
8. Cairo, Egypt
9. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
10. Dubai, UAE

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report


1. Chad
2. Iraq
3. Pakistan
4. Bahrain
5. Bangladesh
6. Burkina Faso
7. Kuwait
8. India
9. Egypt
10. Tajikistan

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

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- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
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- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

The Specs

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Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
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Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

BMW M4 Competition

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Transmission: eight-speed
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Torque: 600Nm
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Boost Defenders 205-5 in 20 overs
(Colin Ingram 84 not out, Cameron Delport 36, William Somerville 2-28)
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Formula 4 Italian Championship 2023 calendar

April 21-23: Imola
May 5-7: Misano
May 26-28: SPA-Francorchamps
June 23-25: Monza
July 21-23: Paul Ricard
Sept 29-Oct 1: Mugello
Oct 13-15: Vallelunga

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

The specs: 2018 Infiniti QX80

Price: base / as tested: Dh335,000

Engine: 5.6-litre V8

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 400hp @ 5,800rpm

Torque: 560Nm @ 4,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 12.1L / 100km

Traits of Chinese zodiac animals

Tiger:independent, successful, volatile
Rat:witty, creative, charming
Ox:diligent, perseverent, conservative
Rabbit:gracious, considerate, sensitive
Dragon:prosperous, brave, rash
Snake:calm, thoughtful, stubborn
Horse:faithful, energetic, carefree
Sheep:easy-going, peacemaker, curious
Monkey:family-orientated, clever, playful
Rooster:honest, confident, pompous
Dog:loyal, kind, perfectionist
Boar:loving, tolerant, indulgent  

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.


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Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 730 GPU

Memory: 12GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB

Platform: Android 12, One UI 4.1.1

Main camera: Triple 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 50MP wide (f/1.8) + 10MP telephoto (f/2.4), dual OIS, 3x optical zoom, 30x Space Zoom, portrait, super slo-mo

Video: 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, full-HD@30/60fps, HD@30fps; slo-mo@60/240/960fps; HDR10+

Cover camera: 10MP (f/2.2)

Inner front camera: Under-display 4MP (f/1.8)

Battery: 4400mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, 'all-day' life

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC (Samsung Pay)


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In the box: Fold 4, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

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