Saudi Shoura Council approves new law against harassment

Anyone convicted under the new law faces up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to SR300,000 (around $80,000). (AFP)
Updated 29 May 2018
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Saudi Shoura Council approves new law against harassment

  • Any comprehensive society needs a law such as this one to protect the rights of all citizens
  • Anyone who witnessed an instance of harassment should be required by law to report it

JEDDAH: A new draft legislation outlawing harassment was approved on Monday by the Saudi Shoura Council.
Anyone convicted under the new law faces up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to SR300,000 (around $80,000).
The new draft law “aims to combat the crime of harassment, prevent its occurrence, punish the perpetrators and protect the victims, in order to preserve the privacy, dignity and personal freedom of individuals guaranteed by the provisions of Islamic law and regulations.”
“I believe this law to be of extreme importance,” Shoura member Hoda Al-Helaissi told Arab News.
While the law protects people of both sexes, it has particular relevance to the end next month of the de facto ban on female drivers, Al-Helaissi said.  
“The timing is important. Driving, although probably the main reason for it, is not the only one.
“Any comprehensive society needs a law such as this one to protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of gender.”
There would be amendments to the law in the near future “to make it more complete and up to the standards required by our society,” she said.
Latifah Al-Shaalan, another Shoura member, said on social media: “The anti-harassment law approved today is a very important addition to the history of the Kingdom’s law and regulation, which fills a large legislative vacuum. It is a deterrent law compared to a number of other laws in other countries.”
Al-Shaalan said she had proposed a number of additional articles for the law regarding the protection of witnesses and of the identity of those who report such incidents, the provision of social and psychological support to the victims of harassment, and raising awareness of the provisions of the law. Anyone who witnessed an instance of harassment should be required by law to report it, she said.
Leading lawyer Dimah Alsharif told Arab News the new law was “a qualitative leap” in combating sexual harassment in the Kingdom. “Not only for women, but for all genders of different ages and in different situations,” she said.
The end of the driving ban gave attention to the issue of potential harassment “a boost,” she said, and the new law would help by “imposing clear and specific clauses to match the driving aspects and to assure people’s freedom in practicing this right.”
Rawan Al-Jabri, 26, a Saudi national, said: “This is not a privilege as much as a basic right for all women. Taking disciplinary measures against those who harass women, and even men, will definitely lower the harassment rate and hopefully put an end to it all together.”
Speaking as a woman who had faced harassment, Al-Jabri said she was thrilled by the new law. “With women starting to drive, this law is extremely necessary.”
In September 2017, a royal decree announced the end of the decades-long ban on women driving, which will be effective from June 24.


King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed ‘lend new dimension to unification’

Millions of citizens plan to celebrate the Saudi national day on Sunday. (SPA)
Updated 23 September 2018
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King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed ‘lend new dimension to unification’

  • More than 900,000 fireworks will light up the sky from 58 locations across the Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Day, celebrated every year on Sept. 23, has come a long way in broadening the concept of unification over the years.
Though the National Day meant unifying disparate sheikhdoms under the nation’s founder, the late King Abdul Aziz, its implications across the political, socioeconomic and cultural spectrum have not been lost on successive rulers.
It was King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who fine-tuned the definition of unification as an operating philosophy. This is why millions of citizens plan to celebrate the Saudi National Day on the streets on Sunday.
The capital city, along with other Saudi cities, will witness fireworks and the unfurling of the largest national flag. More than 900,000 fireworks will light up the sky from 58 locations across the Kingdom.
Car owners, limousine drivers and young Saudi motorcyclists said that they planned to go for drives, particularly on the fashionable streets of the capital city, to celebrate. Grocery shops, stationery shops and vendors were selling bunting, flags, banners and pictures of national heroes.
“We went around the city to see the lighting and fireworks,” said Saleh Al-Omri, a local pharmacist. “Green and white balloons fill either sides of Riyadh streets,” he said.
In his National Day congratulatory message, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, said: “The wise policy of the leaders of this country contributed to peace, security and stability.”
Fakhr Al-Shawaf, chief executive of Al-Bawani Contracting Co., said: “We are celebrating the 88th anniversary of our unification, a day when the late King Abdul Aziz established the Saudi nation.”
Ali Al-Othaim, a member of Riyadh Chamber’s board of directors, said: “The Kingdom is on the path of comprehensive economic and social development under Vision 2030.”
Shafik Namdar, a taxi driver, said that he had bought an SR10 flag for his car and planned to work and also drive with his friends to look at the city and its landmark buildings.
Several young boys, including Arslan, 12, and Mishal, 14, said that they had bought bunting, badges and flags to decorate their houses. They planned to celebrate with a special meal at home with relatives, before going into the city streets for dance and music. Some of them had plans to organize celebrations in public parks.