I came across an article by The Independent claiming that 50 names were banned in Saudi Arabia for a variety of reasons. An older article from arabnews.com claims that the story was made up.

What evidence exists to confirm or deny the original story?

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    Slightly related, there is this about allowed names in Sweden thelocal.se/20080605/12258
    – GEdgar
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 18:43
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    In every Islamic country, there are not only 50 banned names but thousands because of: 1. Religious reasons . 2. Political reasons (such as with North African countries)
    – user29814
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 18:59
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    One could answer that Westerners have a list of "banned" names too, not by any legal/religious court, but our own culture. Haven't seen many baby Adolf's in the last 60-odd years or so.
    – Jamiec
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 16:11
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    @Jamiec as GEdgar mentioned there are also countries (at least Germany, and apparently Sweden) in the "Western" part of the world that won't let you name your child any name you want to. So there's even cases of names being legally "banned" there.
    – YviDe
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 18:49
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    @Jamiec But that's not an answer to this question. This isn't necessarily an attack on Saudi Arabia or something like that. As an example, Iceland is well known to have a much more restrictive naming policy, where you can only use names on a fairly small list (all non approved names are forbidden).
    – KAI
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


No, while it was widely reported, the Saudi government has denied it.

Many sources such as the Washington Post, Daily mail, Direct matin, Gulf News, Le Monde, Le Figaro or Al HUffington Post (Maghreb) reported that, Thursday March 13th 2014, the Saudi Ministry of Interior published a list of 51 names that were declared as "non compliant with the country culture or religion". Therefore, according to such decree, parents cannot give to their children:

  • some occidental names, e.g. Alice, Linda ...,
  • names with royal connotation royale such as "Amir" (prince) or Malika (queen),
  • or just "inappropriate", i.e Benyamin that evokes Israel Prime minister.

However, March 18th 2014 the following article was issued on 5Pillars-UK:

The Saudi Ministry of Interior has denied releasing any statement banning 50 names deemed blasphemous or unacceptable and said any name can be used as long as it abides by Civil Status laws.

After the story went viral on social media Mohammed Al-Jaser, Saudi Civil Affairs spokesman, said that certain names cannot be registered if they do not adhere to Islamic law. Among these are westernized names, socially unacceptable names or names with blasphemous connotations.

Names such as “Abdul Rasool” or “Abdul Nabi” (slave or worshipper of a prophet or messenger) and names with religious connotations, such as “Malak,” are also forbidden. Other names such as “Humair,” which resembles the Arabic word for donkey, are also deemed socially unacceptable.

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    So the prohibition on certain types of names exist, but there isn't a specific list of banned names?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 1:53
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    I agree, this answer seems to be self contradictory. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 10:30
  • There's no contradiction. It's probably entirely up to whomever decides at the time. Some might be more lenient and willing to let questionable names slide. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 12:22
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    No contradiction: It seems the news stories claim a list was issued on March 13, 2014, but the Saudi Ministry of the Interior denied that. (There are banned names, but no such list was issued on that date.)
    – GEdgar
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:52
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    Due to the lack of other answers, I'll tick this one, but I was hoping for something more convincing.. Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 15:15

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