Saudi Father Names Daughter Ivanka, Dividing Kingdom

Ivanka Trump
Ivanka Trump at the W20 conference in Berlin on April 25. Her family leave proposal has been criticized by feminist icon Gloria Steinem for being “the policy of every authoritarian regime.” Sean Gallup/Getty

A Saudi father has eschewed popular names in the Gulf Kingdom—the Nadias, Lailas and Reemas—for his newborn baby girl, instead choosing the name of President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka—to mixed reaction.

The father, Salem Amer Salem Al-Ayashi Al-Anzi, registered the name with the Ministry of Health at the Women and Children Hospital in the northern Saudi city of Arar and submitted it to authorities in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, according to Arab News.

The news site published a picture of the birth certificate, which Saudi citizens have been sharing widely on messaging platform WhatsApp.

Anzi, who has now been nicknamed Abu Ivanka as the father of the newborn baby, told the site that he chose the name of Trump's daughter because his friends and colleagues said it would not be allowed in the country.

He took their opposition to the name as a motivation to go ahead with the choice, according to friend Moteeran Al-Nams, as Saudis "don't step back from a challenge."

Friends were also compelled to organize the baby shower because of the baby's unusual name, he said, and they lavished the family with food, money and gifts.

Read more: Trump will visit Israel and Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip

In March 2014, the Saudi Foreign Ministry banned 50 given names that were "inappropriate" and deemed offensive to the Kingdom's religion or culture.

It banned parents from naming children with several foreign names, such as Linda and Elaine, and outlawed names affiliated to royalty (Saudi Arabia is governed by a monarchy). The names banned included Sumuw (highness), Malika (queen) and Malek (king).

But Ivanka posed no religious or moral quandaries for Anzi, he said, as it was not forbidden in Saudi law or Arabic culture. The name of Hebrew origin means "God is gracious" and is a variation on the Slavic name "Ivana."

The name choice was made just weeks before Trump's planned visit to the oil-rich state next month. On May 19, he will travel to Riyadh on a tour of three religious centers that will also include visits to Rome and Jerusalem.

Following the announcement Thursday, the Saudi government said the visit would boost the fight against extremism in the region as both Washington and Riyadh continue their campaigns against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

After securing victory in November's presidential election, Trump shut down several companies with links to a Saudi Arabian business venture in what the Trump Organization called "housecleaning." It said the president has no business ventures in Saudi Arabia at present.

Ivanka had however previously named Saudi Arabia as a prime destination for the Trump Organization's investment. "We are looking at multiple opportunities in Abu Dhabi, in Qatar, in Saudi Arabia, so those are the four areas where we are seeing the most interest," she told the Hotelier Middle East publication in May 2015. "We haven't made a final decision in any of the markets, but we have many very compelling deals in each of them."