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

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

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

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.


King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides

King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides
Updated 10 min 17 sec ago

King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides

King Salman sends cable of condolences to Indian president after landslides
  • King Salman expressed his wishes that the missing would return safely
  • Torrential downpours have lashed India’s western coast in recent days, sparking landslides near Mumbai

RIYADH: King Salman sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to the president of India after 119 people died in monsoon-triggered landslides and building collapses.
More than 135,000 people have been evacuated and dozens are still missing.
In the cable to Ram Nath Kovind, the king said “We share the pain of this affliction with you and we send you, the families of the deceased and your people, our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy.”
He also expressed his wishes that the missing would return safely.
Torrential downpours have lashed India’s western coast in recent days, sparking landslides near the financial capital Mumbai and causing the worst floods in decades in the resort state of Goa.


Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia
Updated 20 min 15 sec ago

Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys 3 Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed three Houthi drones launched toward southern Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Al-Ekhbariya reported.

The Houthi militia continues its aggression by trying to target civilians and civilian objects, the coalition said.

The coalition is taking operational measures to protect civilians from Houthi hostilities, it added.


Ancient rock art in Hima listed as Saudi Arabia’s sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site

The site at Hima, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world and ancient wells. (SPA)
The site at Hima, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world and ancient wells. (SPA)
Updated 24 July 2021

Ancient rock art in Hima listed as Saudi Arabia’s sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site

The site at Hima, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world and ancient wells. (SPA)
  • Hima was a conduit for caravans on the trade and Hajj routes going to and from the southern parts of Arabia
  • People who passed through the area between pre- and post-historic times have left behind a substantial collection of rock art

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s cultural rock art in Hima, Najran, has been officially recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The decision was made during the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee being held in Fuzho, China.

The site, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world.

Located in southwestern Saudi Arabia, Hima was a conduit for caravans on the trade and Hajj routes going to and from the southern parts of Arabia, to the ancient world markets of the rest of Arabia, Mesopotamia, the Levant and Egypt.

People who passed through the area between pre- and post-historic times have left behind a substantial collection of rock art depicting hunting, wildlife, plants, symbols, and tools used at the time, as well as thousands of inscriptions written in several ancient scripts, including Musnad, Thamudic, Nabataean and early Arabic.

The wells on the site date back more than 3,000 years and were considered a vital source of fresh water in the vast desert of Najran. They still serve fresh water to this day.

“We are thrilled to have this exceptional ancient site recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The area has outstanding universal value, providing us with many lessons about the evolution of human culture and life in ancient times,” said Dr. Jasir Alherbish, CEO of the Heritage Commission.

“We are working to preserve the area and conduct research to further understand the rock inscriptions, and are looking forward to welcoming more local and international visitors to come and see this historic cultural site for themselves.”

The preservation and protection of the Kingdom's cultural and natural heritage is a key part of the Kingdom's 2030 Vision.

Overseen by the Heritage Commission, a raft of new discoveries has cemented the country’s reputation as a go-to destination for archeologists, historians and scientists looking to understand human history across the region.

Last year, the Commission announced one of the Kingdom's most ground-breaking discoveries – ancient human and animal footprints, dating back more than 120,000 years, in Tabuk, marking the first evidence of human life on the Arabian Peninsula.

The Kingdom has also taken serious measures toward protecting national and international heritage. In 2019, the Ministry of Culture signed a Memorandum of Understating with UNESCO to contribute $25 million to the organization’s strategy for the preservation of heritage worldwide.


Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 24 July 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 497,965
  • A total of 8,155 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 14 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,256 new infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 280 were recorded in Riyadh, 244 in Makkah, 170 in the Eastern Province, 150 in Asir, 107 in Jazan, 59 in Madinah, 47 in Hail, 41 in Najran, 25 in the Northern Borders region, 23 in Tabuk, 21 in Al-Baha, and six in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 497,965 after 1,155 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 8,155 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 24 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Saudi Arabia’s most popular, and expensive, scent comes with a warning note

Lead or dye is frequently used to give the impression that agarwood is of high quality, while some stores add materials to dilute and compromise Oud’s quality. (SPA)
Lead or dye is frequently used to give the impression that agarwood is of high quality, while some stores add materials to dilute and compromise Oud’s quality. (SPA)
Updated 24 July 2021

Saudi Arabia’s most popular, and expensive, scent comes with a warning note

Lead or dye is frequently used to give the impression that agarwood is of high quality, while some stores add materials to dilute and compromise Oud’s quality. (SPA)
  • Oud sales are soaring in festive season, but some buyers are vulnerable to production scams and fraudulent sales practices

ALKHOBAR: Saudis’ love of oud — one of the most expensive scents on the market today — may run deep but when it comes to price and quality, many struggle to tell the difference.

The result, experts warn, is that some buyers are vulnerable to production scams and fraudulent sales practices.
Oud’s warm woody scent comes from the heart of the agar tree found mostly in India, Cambodia, Indonesia and nearby countries, with the cost of 1 kg of resin rising from SR2,000 to SR6,000 ($500-1,600) or even higher.
The oil is extracted from trees up to 150 years old, and Gulf countries are among the biggest importers of the product.
Considered a rarity, the oil is commonly used on special occasions, such as Eid celebrations.
Despite its popularity, many find it difficult to judge the quality of oud, with experienced salesmen agreeing that the buyer’s trust in the seller remains a key ingredient in any purchase.
Mamdouh Al-Tamimi, an Aramco employee, enjoys agarwood, amber, musk and rose water oud bought from stores at Al-Maaqilia and Deira markets in Riyadh. Recently he has switched to a single store because he believed the salesman was honest.
“I trust him, so I go to the store three or four times a year,” he said.

FASTFACT

Oud’s warm woody scent comes from the heart of the agar tree found mostly in India, Cambodia, Indonesia and nearby countries, with the cost of 1 kg of resin rising from SR2,000 to SR6,000 ($500-1,600) or even higher.

Al-Tamimi said that he prefers liquid oud, agarwood oil, musk and amber with fragrant perfumes, especially during summer, and also enjoys good-quality oud incense.
Video posts shared on social media recently claim to show how some stores cheat customers by using lead to extend oud’s storage time and make its scent last longer.
Dr. Hamad Al-Kathiri, a consultant at Lamsat Bakhoor Company, which specializes in oud products, said that fraud is a growing problem in wood and liquid oud manufacture, with lead or dye frequently used to give the impression that agarwood is of high quality.

Lead or dye is frequently used to give the impression that agarwood is of high quality, while some stores add materials to dilute and compromise Oud’s quality. (SPA)

Some stores also add materials to dilute and compromise quality, he told Arab News.
“Of course, the common goal is greed as these stores want to make quick profits.”
Al-Kathiri said that in recent years online purchases of oud products have increased significantly, while customer preferences for types of oud have changed.
“One of the key reasons is the exorbitant price of the exquisite types of oud,” he said.
Trust in the seller is a major consideration for online shoppers, although many experts warn against buying online.
“The fact remains that it is difficult to know if an oud product is original because only experts know that and are able to protect customers from falling into fraudsters’ traps,” Al-Kathiri said.
He said that men are often interested in the quality of the oud, its name, size and scent, while women generally care only about the fragrance.
Al-Kathiri said that regardless of cost, buyers are advised to test no more than three scents in a single visit to an outlet.
Customers can ask for a sample to try at home in order to judge its quality, he added.
The scent of oud lingers for varying amounts of time depending on type and quality, with some types remaining on clothing for more than two days.
“I believe there is no such thing as original and non-original oud. It is all about quality. You can say this is a good quality oud and that is not,” he Al-Kathiri said.
Mahmoud Al-Falahi, manager of Malaysia-based Almoheet Oud Company, said that natural oud is produced from trees over 70 years old, without any improvements or enhancements.
However, some oud investors add lead or dye to add weight or to make the product “more dense,” he said, warning that it is extremely difficult to tell altered oud from the original.
The most common scam is increasing the weight of an oud product to boost its price, he said.
“Some stores would rather cheat to make quick profits than stay authentic.”
Al-Falahi advised buyers to test only two types of oud when they visit a store in order to judge the difference between the scents and to see if the fragrance lingers for the desired amount of time.