All you need to know about the new Saudi public decency code

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Participants attend the launch of the new tourism visa in Ad Diriyah, a UNESCO-listed heritage site, outside Riyadh on September 27, 2019. (AFP / Fayez Nureldine)
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Participants attend the launch of the new tourism visa in Ad Diriyah, a UNESCO-listed heritage site, outside Riyadh on September 27, 2019. (AFP / Fayez Nureldine)
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Participants attend the launch of the new tourism visa in Ad Diriyah, a UNESCO-listed heritage site, outside Riyadh on September 27, 2019. (AFP / Fayez Nureldine)
Updated 29 September 2019

All you need to know about the new Saudi public decency code

  • Ministry of Interior announcement comes as the Kingdom opens up to foreign tourists
  • Police officers to be sole authority responsible for monitoring offenses and imposing fines

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has given the go-ahead to implement new regulations related to public decency as the country opens up to foreign tourists.
Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif on Friday approved the rules, which identify 19 offenses as punishable.
The ministerial decision accompanies the launch of a visa regime that allows holidaymakers from 49 countries to visit Saudi Arabia. Until now, most visitors to the Kingdom have been either pilgrims or businesspeople.
Men and women are required to dress modestly, refrain from public displays of affection, and avoid using profane language or gestures. 
Women are required to cover shoulders and knees in public, but they are free to choose a modest choice of clothing.




Illustration courtesy of visa.visitsaudi.com

The Kingdom is encouraging tourists and visitors to familiarize themselves with public decency laws in order to avoid fines.
Violations listed on the new visa website include littering, spitting, queue jumping, taking photographs and videos of people without permission, and playing music at prayer times.
Fines range from SR50 ($13) to SR6,000.

“The regulations are meant to ensure that visitors and tourists in the Kingdom are aware of the law relating to public behavior so that they comply with it,” said a government media statement, adding that Saudi police had the sole responsibility for monitoring offenses and imposing fines.
The sale, purchase and consumption of alcohol are illegal in Saudi Arabia, as is bringing alcohol or drugs into the country.
The new code forbids hate, racism, discrimination and indecent behavior. Anyone found engaging in indecent behavior, which includes acts of a sexual nature, will receive a SR3,000 fine that can be doubled if the violation is committed a second time.

The charter forbids playing loud music in a residential area without a prior license. The violator will receive a SR500 penalty that could be doubled if repeated.
The same punishment will be imposed on anyone caught littering streets and public places, jumping over or going around barriers to access a public place, or wearing clothing with language, images or symbols that promote discrimination, racism, porn or drug use.

A person who plays loud music at prayer times will receive a SR1,000 fine. Repeating the violation exposes the offender to a SR2,000 penalty.
Saudi Arabia has traditionally given high priority to attention and respect for the elderly and those with special needs. 
As such, the new code says anyone who occupies their seats and facilities will receive a SR200 fine for the first time. The fine can be doubled if the violation is repeated.
The new code imposes a SR100 fine on people who fail to remove the excrement of their pets. The fine can be doubled if the violation is repeated.
The same punishment can apply to other violations such as writing or drawing on public transportation vehicles or public walls; lighting fires in public places; harming or frightening anyone in a public place, whether verbally or physically; and directing harmful lights, such as laser beams, at someone.

The new code includes a SR1,000 fine for those who take photos or videos of people without their permission. 
The fine, which may be increased to SR2,000, applies to taking photos or videos of traffic accidents, crimes and other similar incidents.
Unless allowed, those who do not respect their turn in a line of people waiting to be served will be fined SR50. That amount can be doubled if the law is broken a second time.
The new code says no penalties can be imposed on any behavior not mentioned in the charter. It adds that violators will have to bear the costs of rectifying their violation. 
Anyone harmed by a violation can claim their private rights and file a lawsuit against the offender.
In case of multiple offenders in a single violation, the prescribed fine shall be imposed separately on each violator.
Any person on whom a penalty is imposed has the right to file a complaint before the Public Decency Circuit at the Specialized Court (Board of Grievances).


Adrian Grenier: Having an appetite is the key to balance

Updated 14 November 2019

Adrian Grenier: Having an appetite is the key to balance

  • ‘Find ways that you can participate and then share those ways with your community’

RIYADH: Youmna Naufal, executive director of the Lebanese Student Society, asked Adrian Grenier, actor, filmmaker, social advocate and musician, about how he balances a rich portfolio of mixed roles and projects.

“I have a big appetite,” Grenier said at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. “I have big eyes for the world. I get excited about a lot of different things ... I want to be diversified.”

Grenier talked about how technology is making the world smaller and more connected.

He thinks that it is important to have a depth of knowledge of a particular skill and go very deep on particular things, but at the same time to have casual knowledge about a lot of different things.

“Travel is more easily available to people and you want to be able to have a working knowledge of a lot of different aspects so that you can comment and you can participate meaningfully with all the people you’re going to encounter,” he said.

Grenier has had a hand in many different projects, from working for the environment, being the first social advocate for Dell computers to protecting the ocean. He said that people could do many different things and touch many different lives. “You have to, it’s almost a necessity at this point,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Grenier has had a hand in many different projects, from working for the environment, being the first social advocate for Dell computers to protecting the ocean.
  • One part of his career involved setting up the Lonely Whale Foundation to educate and raise awareness to inspire change.
  • At Lonely Whale his target is to eliminate 20 billion plastic straws from the waste stream.
  • Grenier also introduced the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, which this year drew 300 young people between the ages of eight and 18 from 30 countries around the world.

One part of his career involved setting up the Lonely Whale Foundation to educate and raise awareness to inspire change, because “today’s children are tomorrow’s environmental leaders.”

Grenier believes that a lot of things can be done to make that change — people need as many solutions as there are humans — “we need 8 billion solutions, and then all the different solutions that each individual comes to.”

He said that everybody knows what is needed in their local community, and what is needed individually and personally. Therefore, it is important that people bring their own creativity to the issue. “Find ways that you can participate and then share those ways with your community. I have a lot of things that I personally do. One thing is starting to reduce plastic straws on all different fronts.”

At Lonely Whale his target is to eliminate 20 billion plastic straws from the waste stream.

Grenier said that 10 billion tons of plastic is going into the ocean every year, which is a huge problem to tackle.

Lonely Whale decided to break the problem down to one single unit of measure, he said. “One single piece of plastic and the plastic straw became that symbolic unit … we could start to actually see a difference.”

He said that this was not easy as 500 million plastic straws are used every day.

Grenier also introduced the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, which this year drew 300 young people between the ages of eight and 18 from 30 countries around the world.

“We bring them together in a bootcamp-style experience over three days so that they can learn about plastics, the ocean, and how they can go back to their communities and start implementing change locally.”

Grenier gave a few pieces of advice throughout the session — especially to millennials. One was that they should take care of themselves, “so that you can stay committed to the task at hand and really accomplish your goals. It can’t be something that you do and then give up … So, take care of your health, take care of your body, your mind, and workout.”

He also advised people to collaborate. “Collaboration is a big part of what I do. I like to consider myself a master collaborator ... looking outside of your own self ... and being compassionate for other ideas.”

“Through new ideas you learn and synthesize both those perspectives into new perspectives. So, let’s do it together,” he said.