Saudi King Salman to host New Zealand terror victims’ families for Hajj

Saudi King Salman to host New Zealand terror victims’ families for Hajj
Saudi Arabia will host 200 Hajj pilgrims of families of victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand on the orders of King Salman. (SPA)
Updated 18 July 2019

Saudi King Salman to host New Zealand terror victims’ families for Hajj

Saudi King Salman to host New Zealand terror victims’ families for Hajj
  • They will perform Hajj as part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guest Program for Hajj and Umrah
  • New Zealand ‘humbled by support from Kingdom,’ envoy tells Arab News

JEDDAH: Relatives of victims of the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack in New Zealand will take part in the Hajj pilgrimage next month as guests of King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

The invitation to the 200 pilgrims was announced on Wednesday by Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh.

Hosting the families during the Hajj season is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to “confront and defeat terrorism” in all its forms, the minister said.

The 200 pilgrims will perform Hajj as part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guest Program for Hajj and Umrah, and the ministry will liaise with the Saudi Embassy in New Zealand to ensure it goes smoothly.

“New Zealand has been humbled by the support we have received from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following the Christchurch terror attack on our Muslim community,” James Munro, New Zealand’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.

“This includes words of support from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the attendance at the national memorial service by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, and a generous donation of $1 million to the victims’ families by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

“This latest act of generosity by the king is deeply appreciated by New Zealand and will be hugely meaningful to the families of those who died, and to the survivors.”

A total of 51 people died and 49 were wounded when a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist opened fire on worshippers at Al-Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch during Friday prayers on the afternoon of March 15. His trial on 51 charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder is due to begin in May 2020.

“The New Zealand government, police and media have agreed not to name the terrorist to deny him a platform, or publicity,” Munro said. “The victims will be remembered. He will not.”

Last year more that 1.75 million pilgrims from abroad performed Hajj, according to figures from the Saudi General Directorate of Passports.

The Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin, reiterated the Kingdom’s call to pilgrims to dedicate their time to performing Hajj rituals, and to be considerate of their fellow pilgrims.

They must focus on feeling the spirituality of the journey and distance themselves from distractions, such as sectarian or political slogans, the minister said. “The Kingdom will not tolerate conduct that disturbs Hajj rituals, and the authorities will take the necessary measures to prevent them.”




An armed police officer (R) stands guard outside the Al Noor mosque, one of the mosques where some 50 people were killed by a self-avowed white supremacist gunman on March 15, 2019, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (AFP file photo)

 


Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court
If a contract obliges one of the parties to carry out a task, which cannot be completed on time due to the pandemic, the court can temporarily suspend the implementation of the obligation. (SPA)
Updated 19 January 2021

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court
  • The new regulations cover construction contracts, supply contracts, and the like, which have been affected by the pandemic

RIYADH: The General Assembly of the Saudi Supreme Court has ordered the waiving of overdue rents on businesses hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and called for a review of such contracts between tenants and owners.

The steps have been taken in view of the circumstances caused by the pandemic, wherein an obligation or contract cannot be implemented without unusual losses.

The president of the Supreme Court, Khalid bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Luhaidan, approved the decisions backed by 32 members of the assembly, Okaz newspaper reported.

Authorities have set conditions that have to be met before a case can be considered for review under the new regulations.

If a contract was concluded before the commencement of the preventive measures announced in the wake of the pandemic, then the impact was direct and unavoidable. If in such a case, an affected party was not compensated or did not reach a deal to mitigate the impact of the health crisis, then it qualifies for a review and the new regulations will then take effect, said legal sources.

The Supreme Court said a competent court will issue its verdict based on facts and circumstantial evidence, and may order amendments to a contract.

It also said the new provisions will be applicable to tenancy contracts and movable properties affected by the pandemic.

It clarified that if, due to the pandemic, a tenant was unable to use the leased property, in whole or in part, the court would reduce the rent as much as the usually intended benefit was reduced.

A lessor, meanwhile, does not have the right to terminate the contract if a tenant is late in paying rent for the period during which it was impossible to fully or partly use the property due to the pandemic.

HIGHLIGHT

The Supreme Court said a competent court will issue its verdict based on facts and circumstantial evidence, and may order amendments to a contract.

The new regulations also cover construction contracts, supply contracts, and the like, which have been affected by the pandemic.

If the pandemic causes an increase to the cost of materials and labor wages, etc., the court shall increase the value of the contract while ensuring the obligor can afford to bear the expense. The obligee, upon increasing the obligation, has the right to request the termination of the contract. If the increase in the cost of materials is temporary, the court reserves the right to temporarily suspend the contract.

If the pandemic causes a shortage of material in the market, the court can reduce the quantity to the extent it deems sufficient to protect the obligor from harm.

Moreover, if the shortage of materials is temporary, the court can temporarily suspend the contract if the person obligated to it is not severely affected by this suspension. If he is harmed, he may request termination of the contract. If the materials were not available at all, leading to the impossibility of implementing the contractual obligations or some of them, the court will terminate the clauses that are impossible to implement upon the request of one of the parties to the contract.

If a contract obliges one of the parties to carry out a task, which cannot be completed on time due to the pandemic, the court can temporarily suspend the implementation of the obligation. If the other party fears unusual damage due to the suspension, he may request termination of the contract.

In addition, the court also stressed the need to carefully assess the damages on a case-to-case basis, and that one or more experts should do the assessment. While assessing damages, it should be made clear what losses were incurred directly due to the pandemic and had nothing do to with seasonal upswing in certain activities.

The Supreme Court explained that a court is bound, when considering cases arising from contracts and obligations affected by the pandemic, not to apply penalty clause or fines in whole or in part — depending on the case.

In the event that a contract includes a clause of exemption from liability for one of the contracting parties when an emergency or force majeure occurs, the condition has no effect, and the party that breaches the obligation must provide evidence that the pandemic was the reason for the breach.

The affected contracts that are not covered by the provisions of this principle shall be subject to the legal and statutory litigation principles, said the court.

Commenting on the decision, Talal Albotty, the regional director of the Central Region, Salama Insurance Co., said there is a type of insurance called “suspension of operations” because of continuous epidemics, and falls under property insurance.

“This type of insurance can be found in European countries and some Asian countries but it is not applicable in Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News. “The insurance against projects does not exist because when the project stops, insurance stops.”

Regarding the rise in prices of commodities, or the increase in prices because of pandemics and suspension of imports, a condition must be added stating that the value of property or project must increase by 10-25 percent, he added.

“Now most reinsurance companies around the world stopped offering insurance related to pandemics and contagious diseases in most countries, including COVID-19, because their impact was huge and the companies sustained huge losses,” he said.

Saudi lawyer Reem Alajmi said the resolution aims to treat and remedy the losses incurred by parties to the contract in terms of obligations.

“The parties could not fulfil their obligations because of a lack of sufficient resources or suspension of working hours during the pandemic. Fulfilling the obligation fully or partially was difficult because COVID-19 pandemic was a force majeure,” she told Arab News.

According to Alajmi, the effects or damage caused by the pandemic must not be covered by other laws. “Proving the occurrence of damage is the responsibility of the plaintiff and the defendant based on evidence submitted to the court,” she added. “The contracts and obligations are amended accordingly.”