Discontentment with one's name is probably a universal problem, but apparently particularly so in Saudi Arabia. A recent report in the Saudi Gazette said that nearly 10 Saudis, mainly women, change their names every day, averaging to 240 individuals per month.
“The majority of the approvals for name changes are for women who look for more appealing names, believing that they will make them more beautiful,” an informed source at the Interior Ministry's Agency for Civil Affairs told the Saudi Gazette .
The source also claimed that individuals generally change their names to something that they perceive to be more modern and distinguished, taking care to avoid any Islamic or social taboos with their new names. Often the people who change their names are reportedly ashamed because of the bad meanings their names connote.
Namechangers must be careful though, as over 50 "blasphemous" names have recently been banned in Saudi Arabia by the Interior Ministry, for contradicting the religion or culture of Saudi Arabia. Some of the names are too Western - like Linda or Sandy – while others – like Benjamin – have political connotations.
“I used the name Hadeel for my social media account before I changed it officially with the Civil Status Department,” Hadeel, formerly Fatimah, told the Saudi Gazette.
“I really wanted to change my name, so I asked my friends about the names they thought were cool. They suggested Maria and that is now my official name,” said Maria, formerly Ethar.
In addition to banning more than 50 names, the Ministry of Education of Saudi Arabia has also recently implemented curriculum teaching children about the value and importance of a good name. They also have asked parents throughout the kingdom to give good names to their children in line with the actions of the Prophet Mohammed, who specifically changed several companions' names due to their poor connotations.