The law does not provide for the same legal status and rights for women as for men, and since there is no codified personal-status law, judges made decisions regarding family matters based on their interpretations of Islamic law. Although they may legally own property and are entitled to financial support from their guardian, women have fewer political or social rights than men, and society treated them as unequal members in the political and social spheres. The guardianship system requires that every woman have a close male relative as her “guardian” with the legal authority to approve her travel outside of the country. A guardian also has authority to approve some types of business licenses and study at a university or college. Women can make their own determinations concerning hospital care. Women can work without their guardian’s permission, but most employers required women to have such permission. A husband who verbally (rather than through a court process) divorces his wife or refuses to sign final divorce papers continues to be her legal guardian.
Granting nationality in the Gulf is a thorny issue. Gulf states do not recognize dual nationality, and have unusual demographics: small citizen populations—often provided with generous state benefits—and a large migrant worker labor force. Some countries also have a sizable group of stateless people to whom they continue to deny nationality. The elusive 2014 Riyadh Agreement , intended to resolve the last round of political tensions with Qatar, stipulated that Qatar should not provide nationality to other Gulf citizens. Layered on top of all these tensions is the Gulf-wide problem of nationality laws and government implementation giving men greater rights than women.