JEDDAH: People breaking any of 10 new rules on public behavior in Saudi Arabia face being fined up to SR5,000 ($1,333). A list of offenses relating to breaches of public decency was supposed to come into force throughout the Kingdom on Saturday, but was put on hold.
Cabinet members last month approved the regulations which aim to uphold the values, principles and identity of Saudi society in public places such as parks, beaches, malls, hotels and restaurants.
Shoura Council member Dr. Muadi Al-Madhhab told MBC channel: “The Kingdom isn’t the only country to implement such regulations. Many countries already have them, and the regulations apply to citizens and expatriates.”
With rising tourism, he said that the 10 provisions would help individuals to be aware of how they should behave in the presence of visitors to the country.
The list has been designed to respect the values, customs, traditions and culture of Saudi Arabia, and the country’s interior minister will work with the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) and other relevant authorities to administer and enforce the rules and where necessary serve penalties.
Each of the 10 regulations will carry a corresponding fine that will be issued by the minister. Under the rules, individuals will be expected to adhere to respectful dress codes and avoid taking photos or using phrases that might offend public decency.
The list covers graffiti and demolition of public property or transport unless authorized by Saudi authorities. Verbal and physical acts of violence or conduct that causes damage, fear or is deemed to be a threat to public safety will also form part of the crackdown.
Legal consultant Dimah Al-Sharif told Arab News: “I believe that the sanctions will play a major role in forcing the community to respect and commit to the regulations.”
She said the Ministry of Interior and SCTH could link the list of decency offenses to the Absher app in the same way as traffic crimes. “This would ensure that individuals treat the issue of public decency seriously and responsibly.” Anyone breaking one of the bylaws for a second time within the same year will face having their fine doubled.