Saudi Arabia becomes first country to grant a robot citizenship – and people are saying it already has more rights than women

Unlike Saudi women Sophia the robot appeared alone without a male guardian 

Natasha Salmon
Saturday 28 October 2017 16:50
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A robot has been granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia and it appears to already have more rights than the country's women.

The robot Sophia was created by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics and it appeared at a technology conference in Saudi's capital, Riyadh.

It was able to appear on stage by itself without the permission of a male guardian and with its head and body uncovered.

Many people took to Twitter to point out that Sophia technically had more rights than women. One woman tweeted: “Sophia, the first robot to be granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, has more rights than the human women there. Strike anyone else as odd?”

Another user wrote: “I’m wondering if robot Sophia can leave Saudi Arabia without her guardian consent ! Since she’s officially Saudi.”

Under the Middle Eastern country’s male guardianship system, every woman must have a male guardian, a husband or relative, who has the authority to make a range of critical decisions on her behalf.

Women are required to receive guardian approval to get married, apply for a passport, travel outside the country and study abroad on a government scholarship.

Sophia appeared as part of the Future Investment Initiative summit to drive investment from Saudi into artificial intelligence.

During the display the robot said: “I'm very honoured and proud for this unique distinction.

”This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognised with a citizenship.“

Last month Saudi Arabia said it would allow women to hold driving licences – the latest step in the Saudi crown prince’s long-term reforms.

According to independent watchdog Freedom House, Saudi Arabia was ranked 10th worst country for civil liberties and political rights.

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