The New Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Shoura Council wants more women in court jobs

Time: April 09, 2019  

The Shoura Council also met Indonesian lawmakers who were visiting the Kingdom. (SPA)
  • The Council said courts needed to have more women in administrative posts to better reflect different needs and jurisdictions

RIYADH: The Ministry of Justice on Tuesday was ordered by the Shoura Council to increase the number of women in jobs, which also told judges to ensure the rights of divorced mothers by including housing in alimony payments.

The council made the demands during its 34th session of the year, saying courts needed to have more women in administrative posts to better reflect different needs and jurisdictions. It urged the ministry not to delay judicial decisions.

It told the Ministry of Health to intensify efforts for the early detection of diseases and to facilitate annual checkups for Saudis, especially the elderly.

“The ministry should find a mechanism to deliver the medical needs of the handicapped and the elderly at their residence,” it said.

It wanted the ministry to coordinate with relevant authorities on the development of medical evacuation and to expedite the completion of a national health register for all diseases in the Kingdom.

The Shoura Council also met Indonesian lawmakers who were visiting the Kingdom.  A member of Indonesia’s House of Representatives, Tamsil Linrung, commended Saudi Arabia’s efforts in helping Muslims in their pilgrimage to Makkah and Madinah.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Check out your rights when you check in to a hotel

Time: April 01, 2019  

Whether we are traveling for business or pleasure, our hotel or other accommodation is a crucial element in any trip, and the hospitality sector is an integral part of the economy, in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
The General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage works hard to educate consumers about their rights, in the belief that its laws and regulations are the basis for sustainable development and prosperity in the industry.
Essentially, the law regulates the relationship between hospitality operators and their guests. The most important factor is ensuring the safety of guests and their belongings. On that subject, you should note that any warning by a hotel that it is not responsible for loss or damage to a guest’s property has no force in law.
Once a booking is confirmed, the hotel is obliged to provide accommodation. If it is unavailable they must provide an alternative at the same cost, even if it is to a higher standard. If a property has to close, or an emergency situation arises that presents a danger to guests, the hotel is again obliged to supply alternative accommodation to a similar or higher standard.
Note, also, that if you wish your luggage to be carried to and from your room, the hotel is required to do so; it is not an optional service.
The law is to a large extent guest-friendly, and makes considerable demands on hotel operators. They are obliged to clearly list all the services they provide in detail, and may not require a minimum stay. All safety procedures in the property must be regularly tested.
The privacy of guests is protected. Their identity and personal information may not be shared in any way. The hotel has the right only to see a guest’s passport or other means of identity, and may not retain either the original or a copy.
The only trade-off for these rights is that guests are obliged to respect the property and its equipment, to adhere to arrival and departure dates, and to refrain from smoking in the property’s public spaces.
The law considers the booking document signed by the guest and the hotel to be a legal contract. It should contain the classification of the room and its characteristics, the guest’s information, the number of nights and the method of payment. The guest may also cancel the reservation in writing, totally or partially, at least 24 hours before arrival. Payment may be made each day or at the end of the stay.
There has been much discussion about women, whether Saudi nationals or expatriates, being prevented from booking hotels without a male guardian. In fact, the law explicitly states that women may be accommodated without the presence of a guardian.
Inspection committees play an important role in ensuring the quality of accommodation and the conduct of all parties, including guests. A special committee examines any irregularities and issues a fine where appropriate. This can be challenged with an appeal to the chairman of the General Authority for Tourism and Heritage, and if necessary by a further appeal to the Board of Grievances.
The strict enforcement of these rules and regulations by all parties contributes to attracting investments that raise the value and quality of the hospitality sector in line with the Kingdom’s development strategies and aspirations.

Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

This article was first published in Arab News

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App launched to access judicial information in Saudi Arabia

Time: January 30, 2019

Users of the new service, available through app stores on iOS and Android, will be able to access judicial information through multiple platforms. (SPA)
  • Users of the new service, available through app stores on iOS and Android, will be able to access judicial information through multiple platforms

JEDDAH: A new smartphone application has been launched, offering users access to key information about the Kingdom’s judicial system.
Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Yousef, president of the Saudi Court of Grievances, on Tuesday revealed details of the range of electronic services now available to the public.
The app was launched at a special ceremony which marked another major milestone toward achieving the Court of Grievances’ modernization targets set out in its 2020 strategic plan.
Al-Yousef said one of the main objectives of the program was to transform the delivery of data services, and he pointed out that 60 percent of the Court of Grievances’ operations had now gone electronic.
Users of the new service, available through app stores on iOS and Android, will be able to access judicial information through multiple platforms.

This article was first published in Arab News

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10 rulings on defendants’ rights take effect

Time: January 12, 2019  

By Adnan Al-Shabrawi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — On monitoring legal decisions, Okaz has found out that 10 decisions have taken effect for the first time.

The rulings were issued by the Ministry of Justice, Higher Judicial Council, Public Prosecution and the Supreme Court during the past four weeks.

The decisions stress the rights of detained persons and defendants during arrest, investigation, litigation, trial and appeal before the Supreme Court. These is apart from rights of workers, divorcees and non-Arabic speaking expatriates.

Okaz has learned that the Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al-Muajab recently issued a circular to the Public Prosecution branches stressing the importance of implementing Articles 120 and 121 of the Penal Procedures Regulation and its Executive Bylaw that stipulate releasing cases where their release is compulsory, if the conditions are fulfilled.

These decisions were preceded by the decision of the Minister of Justice Waleed Al-Samaani stressing the defendant’s right to take the help of a lawyer during the investigations and trial. This should be mentioned in the court’s deed, aside from providing a translator to those who are not fluent in Arabic.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette

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Saudi Arabia confiscates illegal broadcast devices, protecting sports’ rights

Time: November 12, 2018 

Saudi Arabia continues its campaign to eliminate pirated broadcasting devices airing football leagues’ games and International sport championships. (Shutterstock)

Saudi Arabia’s authorities continued their campaign to eliminate pirated broadcast devices airing football leagues’ games and international sports’ championships.

The government campaign, led by the Ministry of Trade and Investment, resulted in the confiscation of more than 3,780 pirated devices, which are sold in a number of markets.

The government campaign which was launched weeks before the start of Russia 2018 World Cup comes from the keenness of the Saudi government to implement all regulations related to the protection of intellectual property and media broadcasting rights and criminalizing those who infringe these laws.

The campaign also comes from the Kingdom’s commitment to combat all forms of piracy.

Saudi Arabia has launched these campaigns more than 40 days before the start of the World Cup in Russia, while still carrying out intensive surveillance and inspections through its competent agencies to control any irregularities in outlets which might be selling pirated transmission devices.

It is noteworthy that Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries that declared war on pirated devices in the Middle East markets.

This article was first published in Al Arabiya English  

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Saudi gets 40 lashes for abusing ex on WhatsApp

Time: November 11, 2018   

Couples should end their unhappy marriages through goodwill, not in abusive messages, says lawyer Nijoud Addawi while welcoming the court verdict.

By Adnan Al-Shabrawi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The Court of Appeals in Jeddah has upheld a ruling issued by the Summary Court sentencing a Saudi man to 40 whiplashes for abusing his ex-wife through WhatsApp messages.

The court convicted the man, who was not identified by name, for sending about 600 abusive messages to his ex-wife, which included dirty language and accusations against her modesty and honor.

The court gave the ex-wife the option to attend the whipping if she so wished. It ordered that the man should be whipped 40 times in one go in various parts of his body.

The court sources said the differences between the man and his ex-wife stemmed from the right of custody over their three children.

They said the court referred their case three times to a reconciliation committee but both of them rejected all reconciliation attempts and insisted that the court rule on their case.

The court said the man had committed an illegal and a ugly act by sending abusive messages to his ex-wife. It also made the ex-husband sign a solemn pledge to go straight, behave himself and never to abuse his ex-wife by deeds or words.

Lawyer Nijoud Addawi welcomed the ruling and warned husbands and wives against using social media to harm each other.

She said such acts involve breach of public and private rights, which may lead to imprisonment and fine.

“Couples should end their unhappy marriages through goodwill, not in abusive messages,” Addawi said.

She added that the court honored the woman by giving her permission to witness the whipping of her ex-husband.

 

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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Saudi Arabia urged to revise laws further to achieve Vision 2030

Time: October 16, 2018     

Saudi Arabia urged to revise laws further to achieve Vision 2030
Under its Vision 2030, the kingdom is looking to attract foreign investors who could share their expertise in developing and growing local companies.
By Sam Bridge

Achieving Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 requires consolidation of regulations to attract foreign investment, create new jobs and transfer private sector skills to the public sector, senior executives have said.

This was the consensus during accountancy and finance body ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty roundtable held in Riyadh.

Panellists included Ahmar Azam, chief operating officer of Leejam, Anand Rohatgi, chief operating officer of Synergy Consulting, Daniel Royle, corporate partner at Abuhimed Alsheikh Alhagbani Law Firm and Imad Matar, ME deals partner at PwC.

Speakers agreed that the regulatory laws used in the kingdom are currently below international standard, especially when compared to more developed markets.

They emphasised the importance of revised laws and the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to attain a thriving economy.

Under its Vision 2030, the kingdom is looking to attract foreign investors who could share their expertise in developing and growing local companies.

But panellist said that in order to achieve this, Saudi businesses must make themselves more marketable by showing an equal level of competency, transparency and disclosure. They must have the right team and structure in place, and they should strive to not only compete locally but also globally.

Speakers advised that the Saudi Companies’ Law should be amended to allow a higher ownership percentage for foreign investors, especially in the priority sectors such as the healthcare.

Panellists also agreed that cost-cutting is essential to improve the overall performance of Saudi businesses. A major strategy to achieve this is by providing economies of scale which can be achieved in the short term through mergers and acquisitions.

Michael Armstrong, ICAEW regional director for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), said: “Vision 2030 sets out a blueprint for the future of Saudi Arabia. Pleasing progress has already been made as a result of sweeping social and economic reforms in the kingdom.

“However, there is always room for improvement. By amending laws supporting private companies, we will see an increase in foreign direct investment which will lead to greater economic sustainability and long-term benefits for the economy.”

This article was first published in Arabian Business

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A fast pace of change in the Saudi legal system

Time: September 25, 2018 

As the celebrations for Saudi National Day subside, it is worth reflecting on the many changes that have come about as a result of continuing national development, which I have felt not only in my career as a lawyer, but as a citizen too.

Over the past four years, the judicial system in the Kingdom has witnessed unprecedented development to complement the efforts of the late King Abdullah. The positive changes and developments have cast light on the Kingdom’s embrace of the law. Efforts by judicial entities of all types have contributed to improving the level of human rights culture and emphasizing our rights as legal practitioners.

During the past year, the Ministry of Justice has witnessed for the first time in its history the employment of women. The ministry has announced a set of government administrative functions targeting beneficiaries in various fields such as law, administration, social service and Shariah. The ministry has also supported offices at personal status courts that deal with alimony, custody, divorce and other cases. The role of these offices is to educate beneficiaries about their rights under the law, in addition to facilitating access to the court services and the submission of memorandums, documents and other details, which has significantly helped most of the 26,000 beneficiaries of these offices during the past year. In order to encourage community initiatives, the ministry called on charities and foundations to present their initiatives and services within its courts. The aim is to achieve the objectives of Vision 2030 in activating governmental institutions and coordinating joint programs with other sectors in order to support and consolidate community participation.

Since the launch of Vision 2030 and its national initiatives, the Ministry of Justice, in partnership with the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, has launched several measures and action plans aimed at reducing litigation procedures, speeding up cases, mitigating the flow of lawsuits to courts and improve the quality of legal documentation. All of this will certainly contribute to raising the Kingdom’s ranking in international legal indicators.

The biggest challenge lies in fighting corruption, a key issue for society, the economy and security, and ensuring that the law applies equally to everyone. Specialized departments have been established to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption, and report directly to the General Prosecutor.

To stimulate the trade and business environment and provide a sound economic and legal environment, the Ministry of Justice has launched specialized commercial courts, which opened last October in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, as well as specialized commercial departments within the general courts throughout the Kingdom. The aim is to accelerate the pace of the commercial judiciary and its dynamics, which will certainly stimulate investment in general in the Kingdom.

In addition, the Kingdom is reviewing, developing and launching several laws that will improve and rationalize community interaction. The anti-harassment law is one of the most important, because it touches such a sensitive area of society, previously considered too difficult to define and legislate for.

The Supreme Court has also applied the traffic laws to women, and will, of course, facilitate their involvement in business sectors in a more practical and cost-effective manner.

Finally, I pray that God protects our precious nation, which has such great hope in us, and that we have the determination to develop it successfully.

 

• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. 

Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

This article was first published in Arab News

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Court forces Saudi father to obtain passport for daughter

Time: September 25, 2018   

Saudi Arabia has introduced judicial reforms allowing women greater rights and freedom. The picture shows women walking into the family affairs court in Jeddah.

By Adnan Alshabrawi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The family affairs court in Jeddah forced a father to obtain a passport for his daughter who wanted to travel abroad for higher studies.

The 24-year-old daughter filed a petition asking the court to remove her father from her guardianship. She stated that she had been living with her mother for more than 10 years and that she had not seen her father even once in six years.

The woman is an international recruitment major, which requires her to travel abroad for her studies.

The father was summonsed to the court by force after he refused to attend the hearing or even assign a representative in his place. More over he denied all the facts represented by his daughter and claimed that he had no reason to deny her the right to obtain a passport. Consequently the court ordered him to obtain a passport for her and hand it to her himself.

Lawyer Khalid Abu Rashid praised the decision by the court. He also commended the judicial reforms in favor of women, which allow them to obtain national ID and passports to travel abroad.

According to Article 32 of the pleading regulation system, the guardianship of women who face injustice can be removed from their guardian.

Lawyer and member in the Tarahum committee Nesreen Ali Al-Ghamdi said courts in Saudi Arabia issued judgments ensuring justice to women such as the right to issue a national ID, and the right to marry if their guardian is not cooperating.

Over the past two years the Ministry of Justice has regularly updated their regulations concerning women’s rights.

The Supreme Court and the Justice Ministry have been working hand in hand to reform the justice system particularly to allow women to enjoy their rights such as the custody of children and conferring guardianship to the court in place of the abusive relatives.

 

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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Digital courts cut time spent on cases from two months to 72 hours across KSA

September 14, 2018

Walid Al-Samaani added that the courts provided 20 million judicial services last year. (SPA)

  • The courts provided 20 million judicial services last year to citizens and residents through digital and traditional means

JEDDAH- As part of a digital initiative launched by the Justice Ministry, recently established commercial courts across Saudi Arabia have reduced the time taken to deal with cases from two months to only 72 hours.
With the help of a simple-to-use electronic portal that is used to collect details of cases from all of the parties involved, the courts have been able to hold more than 46,000 hearings since October 2017.
Another benefit of the portal is that it is helping the courts become paperless, reducing the dependency on printed documents by replacing them with online procedures.
“This project succeeded in reducing a large amount of paper waste and enhanced the communication process with clients and beneficiaries,” the ministry said.
Justice Minister Walid Al-Samaani said that the establishment of the three commercial courts, in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, would enhance the economy in line with the objectives of Vision 2030 by encouraging investment, especially since Saudi Arabia has become an attractive market for foreign investors who expect their rights to be protected.
“This has led to (the courts) conducting more than 46,000 sessions, with an average of 126 sessions a day,” he said.
Al-Samaani added that the courts provided 20 million judicial services last year to citizens and residents through digital and traditional means.

This article was first published in  ARAB NEWS

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