Meet the newest female robot citizen of Saudi Arabia

While the government of the country is thrilled, mixed reactions from its citizens trail the development.

On Monday, October 23, 2017, Sophia made her first public appearance in the Saudi Arabian city of Riyadh  where she was honored with the citizenship in front of hundred of delegates.

The news spread like wildfire on social media with citizens asking why Sophia was being given more secured rights than women of the country. Many wonder why she isn’t wearing a jihab and abaya. Others expressed their thoughts on why as a foreigner she got citizenship so quick whereas many foreigners living in Saudi remain Stateless.

Sophia, created by Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics, addressed the audience in English without the customary headscarf and abaya, a traditional cloak which Saudi women are obliged to wear in public.

"I am very honoured and proud for this unique distinction," she said. "This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship."

Under the Saudi guardianship system every woman must have a male companion with her in public, usually a close family member, who has authority to act on her behalf.

"Sophia has no guardian, doesn't wear an abaya or cover up - how come?" commented one Twitter user.

Another Twitter user posted an image of Sophia’s face with a black headscarf and face veil drawn on with a caption “How Sophia will look after a while.”

Saudi Arabia has been seeking to highlight a series of reforms being rolled out by the authorities in the Kingdom.

Women were allowed to participate in Saudi Arabia's National Day and a longstanding ban on women driving was lifted in late September. The Kingdom is also seeking to diversify its economy beyond a reliance on oil, as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030.


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