Saudi Arabia is building a more transparent system

Updated 01 January 2018
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Saudi Arabia is building a more transparent system

JEDDAH: 2017 has been a remarkable year for Saudi Arabia on many levels. A major event that attracted the world’s attention and shocked the Saudi public was the crackdown on corruption in November — and in particular the arrest of ministers and some members of the royal family.
On Nov. 4, King Salman ordered key changes to the Cabinet and the formation of a supreme committee to combat corruption headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which comprises heads of the Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), Public Security, the General Prosecutor and the Investigation Authority.
The anti-corruption committee, according to a royal decree, is granted extraordinary powers to identify offenses, crimes, persons and entities involved in cases of public corruption.
It has the power to investigate, issue arrest warrants and impose travel bans, order financial disclosures and the freezing of accounts and portfolios, track funds and assets, and prevent their remittance or transfer by persons or entities.
The first action taken by the committee was the arrest of a number of ministers, royal family members, and prominent businessmen accused of involvement in public corruption cases. This unprecedented action stunned citizens and attracted global attention.
US President Donald Trump expressed his “great confidence” in Saudi leaders for knowing “exactly what they are doing,” after the announcement of the anti-corruption committee.
Hafez Ghanem, vice president of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa, also welcomed the action of reforms in the Kingdom and said he believed anti-corruption actions are important to the future development of the country.
The number of arrested and detained individuals on charges of money laundering, bribery, extortion, and taking advantage of public office for personal gain reached 500.
Attorney General Saud Al-Mojeb, who is also a member of the anti-corruption committee, estimated that based on the investigations over the past three years, “at least $100 billion has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades.”
The new anti-money laundering law was also introduced as a proactive step; the penalty for money laundering will be between three and 15 years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to SR7 million ($1.87 million).
It emphasizes that attempting to commit any of the acts considered as money laundring according to the new law, or participating in any of the acts by agreement, providing assistance, incitement, counseling, guidance, advice, conspiring, collusion or concealment are all considered money-laundering crimes.
Corruption negatively affects any state at the political, social, economic and security levels. The recent anti-corruption campaign raised a new positive perception about Saudi Arabia among Middle East fund managers, according to a monthly Reuters poll released on Nov. 30. It estimates that 46 percent of funds are now expected to raise their allocations to the Saudi stock market in the coming months.
Fighting corruption is the main factor for development, and it is an important part of the ambitious Vision 2030 reform plan of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who promised that “No one who is involved in corruption will survive.”
King Salman, in his last meeting with the Shoura Council on Dec. 13, said that corruption undermines societies and prevents their development and growth, and Saudi Arabia is determined to confront it.
He added that the issue would be dealt with “in a fair and firm way so that our country enjoys the renaissance and development hoped for by every citizen.”


KSRelief 45-vehicle aid convoy heads to Hodeidah

KSRelief General Supervisor Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah speaks to media in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 3 min 24 sec ago
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KSRelief 45-vehicle aid convoy heads to Hodeidah

  • Al-Rabeeah said KSRelief had carried out a total of 262 aid projects in all governorates of Yemen
  • Al-Rabeeah called on international humanitarian organizations to provide relief assistance to the people of Yemen.

RIYADH: A 45-vehicle aid convoy carrying 924 tons of foodstuffs, medical and housing supplies left Saudi Arabia for the Yemeni province of Hodeidah on Wednesday.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, KSRelief general supervisor, said that 18 of the trucks were sent from Sharurah, 15 from Jazan and 12 from Riyadh.

The convoy included 595 tons of food baskets, 186 tons of dates, 95 tons of medicines, and 48 ​​tons of shelter materials, tents, rugs and blankets for the residents of the province of Hodeidah.

Al-Rabeeah said KSRelief had carried out a total of 262 aid projects in all governorates of Yemen.

He called on international humanitarian organizations to provide relief assistance to the people of Yemen.

The Arab coalition has secured all Yemeni crossings for humanitarian aid to alleviate Yemeni people’s suffering caused by violations committed by the Iran-backed Houthi militias, who have been looting humanitarian aid to Yemen, Al-Rabeeah said.

 “We have been always by the side of Yemeni civilians. Our prime goal is to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Yemen in general and Hodeidah in particular. We will use all transportation means, land, air or seaports, to help our brothers and sisters in Hodeidah,” he added. 

“We are welcoming coordination with the international humanitarian organizations to have a joint effort that will definitely pour into the civilians in Hodeidah to reduce the humanitarian crisis there as the coalition has expressed its full readiness to protect the aid and facilitate the means to reach different destinations,” Al-Rabeeah said.

Abdulsalam Babood, senior official to the Yemeni government and a member of Yemeni Relief Committee, said: “On behalf of my country and the Yemeni people, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to King Salman and the crown prince for their unmatched generosity and unwavering support to the Yemeni civilians in terms of medical supplies and food and other needed items for survival.

“Hodeidah has been suffering from the humanitarian crisis over the past three years due to the full control imposed by the Houthi militants on them. Starvation and the big shortage in medical supplies and medications and huge environmental issues are the main struggles of the people there. International reports estimate that 61 percent of people in Hodeidah are in urgent need of essential supplies. We then put a plan to cope with this humanitarian crisis.”