Saudi society welcomes new law criminalizing sexual harassment

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Saudi women take part in the 87th National Day celebrations in Riyadh. (Reuters)
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King Salman has given the interior minister 60 days to draft the law. (Shutterstock)
Updated 30 September 2017
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Saudi society welcomes new law criminalizing sexual harassment

JEDDAH: A new anti-harassment law has won praise from across Saudi Arabia after King Salman ordered the interior minister to criminalize sexual harassment.
The government has prepared a draft anti-harassment law to be implemented in 60 days, with jail terms and flogging being considered as possible penalties.
The move comes just days after a royal decree lifted the driving ban on women.
The latest royal decree stated that sexual harassment posed a great threat to women and families, and was “in contradiction of Islamic principles.”
The decree read: “Considering the dangers sexual harassment poses and its negative impact on the individual, the family and society along with its contradiction of Islamic principles, our customs and traditions … the ministry shall prepare a draft law to tackle sexual harassment.”
The move drew a very favorable reaction from Saudi society.
“The order of King Salman is good and laudable. It will definitely give protection to women ... from harassment by men,” said Khalil Al-Jehani, a practicing lawyer in the Saudi capital.
He added that the order is a further show of support for women after the decree lifting the ban on women driving.
In a 2014 study, nearly 80 percent of women aged 18 to 48 said they had been exposed to some form of sexual harassment.
Faisal M. Al-Mashouh, a lawyer and legal adviser, said the law would “be a road map to control existing relations in society and protect the rights of women.”
He said the law is “a qualitative leap for the rights of women in Saudi Arabia,” adding that in the past, they took a backseat in decision-making and were passive participants in nation-building. This is no longer the case, he said.
Women “have become members of the Shoura Council so their voice on vital issues is heard. They’ve also become heads of leading local corporations,” he said.
The new law will give women more self-confidence and courage to pursue their goals and be active participants in nation-building, as envisioned in Vision 2030, he added.
Many women took to Twitter to express their support for the new law, overjoyed at the prospect of more freedom and safety.
Farah Al-Jabr tweeted that she finally felt like a “human being.”
Maha Al-Fahad was overwhelmed at the events of the past few days, tweeting: “OK … If this is a dream, don’t wake me up.”
Others took the opportunity to ask for the reopening of cinemas as the next step.
Mueerah Al-Ibrahim said this week “was the most beautiful, historic week ever,” with @stgirlever tweeting: “Women driving: done. Anti-Harassment law: done. Cinema: soon. Please welcome the new Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
 


Ad Diriyah a ‘jewel’ of Saudi Arabia, its revival key to Kingdom’s future, says project chief

The historic district of At-Turaif in Ad Diriyah, once home to the Saudi royal family. (Ziyad Al-Arfaj/Arab News)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Ad Diriyah a ‘jewel’ of Saudi Arabia, its revival key to Kingdom’s future, says project chief

  • Tourism mogul Jerry Inzerillo talks to Arab News about the megaproject to restore the UNESCO site
  • “We have specific instructions to open several assets for 2019. These are very exciting plans.”

RIYADH: Gerard “Jerry” Inzerillo, tourism mogul and CEO of the Ad Diriyah Gate Development Authority, gave an exclusive interview to Arab News in the town’s historical At-Turaif district.

Ad Diriyah, located on the outskirts of Riyadh and once the home of the Saudi royal family, temporarily opened its gates as the ABB Formula E racing championship took place a few kilometers away. 

The serenity of the location allows visitors to experience the historical significance of At-Turaif. Efforts to restore its magnificence are clearly evident.

Restoring At-Turaif and Ad Diriyah is one of the many megaprojects underway to boost tourism in the Kingdom, in line with the Vision 2030 reform plan.

Why Ad Diriyah? Because you can’t have a future without a past. That’s where the crown prince’s brilliance lies.

“It’s a magical time in the Kingdom. What all these projects will offer people from all over the world is fabulous,” said Inzerillo in his Brooklyn accent.

“With all that vision, boldness and welcome, you want to go to the soul, the pearl, the jewel of the Kingdom, and that’s the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ad Diriyah and At-Turaif.”

When visiting Ad Diriyah 19 years ago, Inzerillo admitted that he was slightly let down by what he saw.

He understood its historical significance, and 19 years later, with the manpower of hundreds of Saudis who believe in the preservation of their country’s heritage, Inzerillo can see the fruits of their labor. “The future can only be anchored with the values of the past,” he said.

The UNESCO site has undergone 15 years of restoration, bringing it back to life. Working alongside the crown prince, Inzerillo believes that Mohammed bin Salman’s insistence on preserving the authenticity and soul of Ad Diriyah and At-Turaif is vital. “There’s only one Ad Diriyah,” said Inzerillo.

Everything that will be built around the historical site will be made of mud and in keeping with the architecture of Saudi Arabia’s central Najd region. 

“To preserve the authenticity of the area, the crown prince stressed that he wants street energy, human interaction, laughter, food, beverages and music. There will be a major focus on pedestrian traffic,” Inzerillo said.

“Many people don’t realize that there’s 1,000 years of history in Saudi Arabia, and At-Turaif has 274 years of history on its own.”

He said he can see the pace of progress in the tourism sector. For years, the Kingdom has welcomed millions of people through Makkah and Madinah, but Inzerillo believes that it is time for Riyadh to shine.  

“It’s now time to come to Riyadh, a thriving international global city that’s on a fast track to 8 million people,” he said.

“It’ll be the stop-off point for the region. It’s where the region started. Arabia started at Ad Diriyah,” he added.

“I’ve been in tourism for 50 years. I’ve worked with some of the best heads of state in the world. The crown prince is so smart and full of love for this project,” Inzerillo said.

“We have specific instructions to open several assets for 2019. These are very exciting plans. We’re going to be opening major restaurants, retail outlets and hotels for 2020,” he added.

“The crown prince will announce the masterplan in the next few months. It’s bold and exciting. Nowhere in the world has the level of authenticity, the authentic mud that At-Turaif has.”

The project’s success will be due to the crown prince’s watchful eye and hands-on approach, Inzerillo said.  

It will include museums, academic institutions, “edutainment” facilities, 11 hotels, several hundred shops and 100 restaurants. 

They will all overlook the Wadi Hanifah valley in Najd, surrounded by 1 million date palm trees and another 1 million that are expected to be planted.

“Why Ad Diriyah? Because you can’t have a future without a past,” said Inzerillo. “That’s where the crown prince’s brilliance lies.”