Diriyah on course to become world-class tourist spot

The lecture at the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh focused on plans to develop Diriyah into a world-class cultural and tourist area. (AN photo)
Updated 05 January 2017

Diriyah on course to become world-class tourist spot

RIYADH: The Riyadh Development Authority (RDA) recently highlighted its program to develop the historic Diriyah into a world-class cultural and tourist area.
Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Rukban, Urban Development Department head, said the program has the support of King Salman in recognition of its national and cultural significance.
Addressing a gathering of heritage specialists and guests at the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh, Al-Rukban said that the historic locations in Diriyah will be transformed into cultural centers under the program.
This will reflect the pioneering role of the city as the capital of the first Saudi state, and the birthplace of Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab, the Arabian religious reformer.
Diriyah, where the first Saudi state was set up in 1745, has been undergoing huge restoration since 2011.
Al-Rukban said that the ancient and historic neighborhoods of Diriyah will be developed to serve as a nucleus for urban and cultural development.
Sustainable development will also be achieved by preserving natural resources; private investments and contributions to the development program will also be encouraged.
Al-Rukban said that the program’s external operations include landscaping, building rest areas, bathrooms and internal parking areas.
He said that the neighborhood had been provided with an integrated network of public utilities including water outlets, a drainage and sewerage system, rainwater outlets, electricity, lighting, signboards, maps and informative signs.
The program includes the Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab Bridge, which connects the neighborhood of Al-Bujairi and that of Al-Turaif.
Al-Rukban said that the comprehensive plan aims at transforming the Al-Bujairi neighborhood into a cultural and service area in Diriyah.
He said that Al-Bujairi neighborhood has a 3,500 sq. meter central plaza encircled by 25 shops and administrative offices.
The neighborhood also hosts the Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab Cultural Foundation and seeks to become an international hub for researchers in Islamic studies worldwide.

Historic landmark
Al-Rukban said that the Al-Turaif development program had revitalized the neighborhood as a historic landmark and an exhibition of integration and harmony among architectural patterns and natural forms.
He added that Al-Turaif is Diriyah’s most important suburb as it hosts ancient buildings and historical palaces that go back to the first Saudi state.
The Al-Turaif development program includes the Diriyah Museum in Qasr Salwa, which sheds light on the history of the first Saudi state.
Al-Rukban also said that a reception center will be set up at the entrance to the Al-Turaif Quarter to guide visitors and provide them with information about entertainment, tourist utilities, cultural programs and other activities.
Another historic building has also been restored to host the central offices of King Abdul Aziz Foundation and the Riyadh Documentation Center.
The World Heritage Committee has registered the Al-Turaif Quarter as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

Updated 01 October 2020

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

  • It will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools

JEDDAH: Violations of Saudi Arabia’s anti-sexual harassment laws could be punished by “naming and shaming” following a decision by the Kingdom’s Shoura Council to approve a defamation penalty.

The council voted in favor of the penalty during its session on Wednesday after previously rejecting the move in March this year.

Council member Latifah Al-Shaalan said the proposal to include the penalty was sent by the Saudi Cabinet.

Saudi lawyer Njood Al-Qassim said she agrees with the move, adding that it will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools.

“The penalty will be imposed according to a court ruling under the supervision of judges, and according to the gravity of the crime and its impact on society,” Al-Qassim told Arab News.

“This will be a deterrent against every harasser and molester,” she said.

Al-Qassim said that legal experts are required to explain the system and its penalties to the public.

“The Public Prosecution has clarified those that may be subject to punishment for harassment crimes, including the perpetrator, instigator and accessory to the crime, the one who agreed with the harasser, malicious report provider, and the person who filed a malicious prosecution lawsuit,” she added.

“The Public Prosecution also confirmed that attempted harassment requires half the penalty prescribed for the crime,” said Al-Qassim.

In May 2018, the Shoura Council and Cabinet approved a measure criminalizing sexual harassment under which offenders will be fined up to SR100,000 ($26,660) and jailed for a maximum of two years, depending on the severity of the crime. 

In the most severe cases, where the victims are children or disabled, for example, violators will face prison terms of up to five years and/or a maximum penalty of SR300,000.

Incidents that have been reported more than once will be subject to the maximum punishment. 

The law seeks to combat harassment crimes, particularly those targeting children under 18 and people with special needs.

Witnesses are also encouraged to report violations and their identities will remain confidential.

The law defines sexual harassment as words or actions that hint at sexuality toward one person from another, or that harms the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way. It takes into account harassment in public areas, workplaces, schools, care centers, orphanages, homes and on social media.

“The legislation aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations,” a statement from the Shoura Council said.

Council member Eqbal Darandari, who supports the law, said on Twitter that the defamation penalty has proven its effectiveness in crimes in which a criminal exploits a person’s trust.

“The defamation of one person is a sufficient deterrent to the rest,” she said.

Social media activist Hanan Abdullah told Arab News the decision “is a great deterrent for every harasser since some fear for their personal and family’s reputation, and won’t be deterred except through fear of defamation.”

The move will protect women from “uneducated people who believe that whoever leaves her house deserves to be attacked and harassed,” she said.

“Anyone who is unhappy with this decision should look at their behavior.”