Saudi Arabia urges UN to bolster efforts to criminalize racism, hatred

Saudi authorities are considering a new law to criminalize racism, hatred. (AFP)
Updated 22 May 2019

Saudi Arabia urges UN to bolster efforts to criminalize racism, hatred

  • Strong legislation in cyberspace stressed to combat extremism

VIENNA: Saudi Arabia has called on the UN to strengthen global efforts to criminalize racial discrimination, the promotion of hatred and intolerance.

Addressing an international legal conference in Austria, Dr. Abdullah bin Fakhri Al-Ansari, an adviser to the Saudi Interior Ministry, said the Kingdom is considering new laws to clamp down on what has become a major threat to world peace and security.

Al-Ansari, who is also the ministry’s director general of legal affairs and international cooperation, told delegates that urgent action is required to combat intolerance based on ideology and race.

Leading the Saudi delegation at the 28th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, at the UN’s offices in Vienna, he said Islam and Muslims in many countries have been subjected to deliberate campaigns of distortion.

Based on reports, Al-Ansari added that in the past few years, hatred and intolerance against Islam had reached “disturbing” levels.

The opening session of the meeting, which runs until May 24, began with a discussion on effective and humane criminal justice systems to prevent and respond to crimes motivated by intolerance or discrimination.

Al-Ansari reviewed the legislation and regulations enacted by the Kingdom to criminalize all forms of racial discrimination, hatred, intolerance, incitement, and dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred.

He said Saudi authorities are considering a new law to criminalize racism, hatred, the formation of racist organizations, attacks on places of worship, contempt for religion, the promotion of hatred, discrimination against individuals and groups, and the undermining of historical figures. The draft law also aims to protect society from discrimination on ethnic, tribal, regional, doctrinal, intellectual or political grounds.

Al-Ansari said hate speech based on extremist thought not only targets Islam and Muslims but also democratic regimes.

He urged all regional and international organizations to strengthen efforts to combat impunity for crimes against religions, condemn and prevent intolerance and discrimination, and continue to issue laws restricting hate speech against religions and their followers.

He noted the need for strong legislation in cyberspace, which he said has become a breeding ground for extremist ideas. The Saudi delegation joined representatives from Japan, Australia, Austria, Colombia and Mexico in presenting four draft resolutions on technical assistance to implement international conventions against terrorism, sexual exploitation, abuse of children and cybercrime.

High-level investment forum aims to further boost business between Saudi Arabia and Japan

Updated 18 June 2019

High-level investment forum aims to further boost business between Saudi Arabia and Japan

  • Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners

TOKYO: More than 300 government, investment and industry leaders on Monday took part in a high-level gathering aimed at further boosting business opportunities between Saudi Arabia and Japan.

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) welcomed key figures from the public and private sectors to the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum, held in Tokyo.

Hosted in partnership with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the conference focused on the creation of investment opportunities in strategic sectors of the Kingdom. Delegates also discussed key reforms currently underway to enable easier market access for foreign companies.

Speaking at the event, Saudi Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, said: “Today’s forum is a testimony to the success of the strategic direction set by the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 two years ago, which seeks to drive private-sector involvement, both by partnering with public-sector entities.”

SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar said: “At SAGIA, we have been working on creating a more attractive and favorable business environment in Saudi Arabia, which is making it easier for foreign companies to access opportunities in the Kingdom.”

Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners. It is the Kingdom’s second-largest source of foreign capital and third-biggest trading partner, with total trade exceeding $39 billion.

JETRO president, Yasushi Akahoshi, said: “Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 has made great progress since it was first announced. Under this strategic initiative, the number of cooperative projects between our two countries has nearly doubled, from 31 to 61, and represents a diverse range of sectors and stakeholders.”

Since 2016, the Saudi government has delivered 45 percent of more than 500 planned reforms, including the introduction of 100 percent foreign ownership rights, enhancing legal infrastructure and offering greater protection for shareholders.

As a result, the Kingdom has climbed international competitiveness and ease-of-doing-business rankings, with foreign direct investment inflows increasing by 127 percent in 2018 and the number of new companies entering Saudi Arabia rising by 70 percent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2019.