Saudi Arabia eyes South Korean weapons programs

A Saudi Royal Air Force jet takes off at an airbase in the south of the Kingdom. The country faces increased drone attacks from Houthi militants. (SPA)
Updated 27 June 2019

Saudi Arabia eyes South Korean weapons programs

  • Billion-dollar agreements signed during Saudi crown prince’s two-day visit

SEOUL: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman showed a keen interest in South Korea’s weapons development programs, South Korean defense officials said on Thursday.

The crown prince, who is also defense minister, visited the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), the hub for developing South Korea’s weapons systems, before flying to Japan to attend the G20 Summit.  

“We can’t disclose details of the crown prince’s visit to our agency,” an ADD spokesman said, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

But an informed defense industry source told Arab News that the crown prince toured the agency and observed the demonstration of key weapons systems under development.

“Riyadh is keen to augment its air defense system to defend against missile and drone attacks by Houthi militias (in Yemen),” Kim Dae-young, a weapons analyst at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, told Arab News.

“In that case, South Korea’s weapons systems and related technologies could be an effective option,” he added.

“In order to minimize civilian casualties, the Saudi armed forces would need more precision armament.”

Houthi attacks

In recent weeks, the Iran-backed Houthis have increased missile and drone attacks against Saudi Arabia.

They have carried out at least 10 missile or drone attacks since April against Saudi airports and other infrastructure facilities. The Kingdom has succeeded in intercepting some of them.

One of the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy is to produce locally at least half of the Kingdom’s defense equipment over the next decade. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest arms importer.

Against that backdrop, an executive of a major defense group in South Korea said the crown prince showed a willingness to set up a weapons development agency similar to the ADD.

“Saudi Arabia has long spent freely to purchase weapons systems abroad, but it wants now to bring in technologies and infrastructures so as to nurture a robust defense industry domestically,” the executive said on condition of

HIGHLIGHTS

• In recent weeks, the Iran-backed Houthis have increased missile and drone attacks against Saudi Arabia.

• One of the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy is to produce locally at least half of the Kingdom’s defense equipment over the next decade.

anonymity, citing comments by ADD sources.

Kim said: “If the Saudi defense sector can be successfully developed, the Kingdom could create a new growth engine, easing its overreliance on energy exports.”

He added: “For South Korea, Saudi Arabia could be a bridgehead to expand its defense exports to the Middle East. So it’s going to be a win-win game.”

The crown prince wrapped up his two-day visit on Thursday with commitments to eight business deals worth a total of $8.3 billion between Saudi state firms and South Korean private companies. In addition, 16 government-level agreements to expand bilateral cooperation in various industry sectors, including robotics, were sealed.

Potential ties

The agreements were signed after talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday at the presidential Blue House, where the crown prince was also greeted by business leaders, including Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong and Hyundai Motor Group heir Chung Eui-sun.

The agreements include a $6 billion joint project between the Kingdom’s national oil company Saudi Aramco and Korean oil refiner S-Oil, and a memorandum of understanding between Aramco and Hyundai to cooperate on hydrogen car technology.

The crown prince had a private one-on-one meeting on Wednesday at Samsung’s secretive guest house in Seoul.

According to Samsung officials, the crown prince and Lee discussed potential cooperation on future-oriented technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.


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.”