Anti-graft committee will ‘create new era of financial transparency’ in KSA

This file photo taken on December 14, 2016 shows a Saudi investor walking past the stock exchange monitors at the Saudi Stock Exchange, or Tadawul, in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 06 November 2017
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Anti-graft committee will ‘create new era of financial transparency’ in KSA

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s new super-committee to fight corruption will give confidence to investors, protect public funds and create a new era of financial transparency, government ministers and experts said on Sunday.

The committee would enforce anti-corruption regulations within the rule of law and to international standards, said Mohammed Al-Jadaan, the minister of finance.

Its work would “consolidate the reform approach adopted by the government to eradicate corruption and consolidate the principles of governance, accountability and justice,” he said.

“This enhances confidence in the business environment and investment in the Kingdom, achieves fair competition among investors, and contributes to development in accordance with best international practice.”

Saudi Arabia was launching a new era of transparency, clarity, accountability and commitment to citizens and the international community in combating corruption, Al-Jadaan said, and would not tolerate or condone any violations of local or global business standards.

“There will be no privileges or exceptions for any investor in order to provide a fair and transparent investment environment based on merit, not nepotism and favoritism. This will provide a healthy and attractive environment to investment, and accelerate the pace of national transformation to achieve the aspirations of Vision 2030.”

Culture and Information Minister Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad said King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were keen to protect public money and eradicate corruption, which was a deterrent to the economy and society. The creation of the committee, led by the crown prince, was a shift in transparency, accountability and governance to produce a healthy environment attractive to investment.

Al-Awwad said that the fight against corruption would achieve social justice and consolidate the values of integrity, justice and equality in society. It would safeguard public funds and punish corrupt people and those who exploit their positions, and establish the state’s management style based on integrity, honesty and sincerity.

Reuters news agency reported that among those detained in the new committee’s investigations were Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding; former Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf; former Economy and Planning Minister Adel Fakieh; former Riyadh Gov. Prince Turki bin Abdullah; Khaled Al-Tuwaijri, who headed the Royal Court under the late King Abdullah; Bakr bin Laden, chairman of Saudi Binladin Group; and Alwaleed Al-Ibrahim, owner of the MBC television network.

However, there has been no official statement as yet to confirm the details apart from local media reporting that a number of princes and businessmen were arrested on charges related to corruption and money laundering.

Sheikh Saud Al-Muajab, the attorney general and a member of the new committee, said: “The committee has initiated a number of investigations as part of the state’s judicial duty to combat corruption. The government of Saudi Arabia is undertaking these measures in accordance with its laws and regulations in a manner appropriate to the nature of the crimes.

“The suspects are being granted the same rights and treatment as any other Saudi citizen. A suspect’s position or status does not influence the firm and fair application of justice. During the investigation, all parties retain full legal privileges relating to their personal and private property, including funds.

“There is an independent judicial process under way, which will be fully respected. The establishment of the committee formalizes an ongoing process of existing investigations that needs to be concluded with due diligence and in accordance with the law. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and everyone’s legal rights will be preserved.”

Ibrahim Al-Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, said the establishment of the committee was “a vital step in creating a fair and level playing field for all potential investors.” This was a clear sign that Saudi Arabia was ready to protect companies’ and individuals’ investments from legally reprehensible actions, he said.

“Such policies are internationally accepted norms that will positively impact the country’s overall economic well-being. It should be noted that the anti-corruption committee is only one element of Vision 2030’s policy roadmap for the development of the Kingdom’s society and economy.”

The General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars said it placed a high value on the establishment of the committee, identifying people who commit crimes and holding them accountable. It said the committee’s creation was another wise decision by King Salman in the public interest.


Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

Updated 19 April 2018
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Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

  • Winners of first Golden Falcon award will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques
  • Film screenings have been revived in KSA as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 

RIYADH: Saudi films have won awards at an international film festival organized by the Netherlands to coincide with the return of cinema to the Kingdom.

The first Golden Falcon Film Festival awards drew Saudi actors, filmmakers and cinema-lovers to the Netherlands embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday.

More than 30 shortlisted Saudi films were shown at the maiden festival on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nine films were nominated, with three each in the best film, best script and best director categories. Overall winners were chosen by an international jury headed by Dutch filmmaker Hans Treffers.

Best movie award went to “Mazban.” The other two films nominated in the category were “Tongue” and “Building 20.”

“The Poetess,” “Matour” and “Atoor” were nominated in the best director category with “Atoor” bagging the award.

“Departures,” “Atoor” and “The Remaining” were nominated in the best script category with “Departures” winning the award.

Besides the Golden Falcon trophy, the winners will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques.

Joost Reintjes, the Netherlands ambassador in Riyadh, told Arab News: “We are proud to organize the first Golden Falcon Film Festival here to promote filmmaking in the Kingdom and provide a platform for young Saudi filmmakers to show what they have to offer.”

Film screenings — banned in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s following religious changes in the Kingdom — have been revived as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The return of cinema was heralded with a film screening on Wednesday at a newly built theater at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh. 

Commenting on the lifting of the 35-year ban, Reintjes told Arab News: “That’s Vision 2030 — it is good sign to diversify and develop.

“Although the cinemas in the Kingdom have only been restarted now, Saudi filmmaking has already made a name for itself on the world stage.

“The Saudi film industry will grow very fast. The level of talent is high,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Qass, lead actor from “Departure,” said: “We have been working for this day for years. 

“Saudis with a thirst for cinema were traveling outside the country — now they can enjoy and share the experience in their homeland.” 

Mohammed Khawajah, a Saudi filmmaker and adviser for the film festival, told Arab News: “The idea for this festival came last year when the lifting of the cinema ban was being discussed.

“The Netherlands embassy had this idea about nine months ago; we sat together and planned the whole festival, which was carried out successfully, with hundreds of people enjoying Saudi films.

“We will improve with our next festival, which will have more fun and entertainment,” he said.