Saudi Arabia climbs 40 places in Digital Infrastructure Index 2020

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Updated 15 July 2020

Saudi Arabia climbs 40 places in Digital Infrastructure Index 2020

  • Saudi Arabia is expected to have its own active information technology industry that will enhance the efficiency of e-government services

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has climbed 40 places in the Digital Infrastructure Index 2020 to rank 27, putting it at the eighth spot in the G20. 

It has moved up 15 places in the Human Capital Index to rank 35 globally, putting it in 10th place in the G20, and also risen nine places in the E-Government Development Index to achieve the highest classification for the index, which includes 139 countries.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their support to the ministry in expediting the digital transformation of the country. Al-Swaha attributed these accomplishments to the National Transformation Program, which has helped the Kingdom speed up its digitization.

Prof. Dr. Mohammed Alhizan, a Shoura Council member, said: “Citizens and residents have experienced firsthand the improvement of public services, which have been digitized for ease of access.”

Dr. Rafiq Jamal Aldeen, a professor at King Saud University, said that information technology and communications were instrumental to digital transformation.

“Saudi Arabia is expected to have its own active information technology industry that will enhance the efficiency of e-government services, speed up the digital transformation of the private sector. Saudi Arabia has designed a number of strategies to develop the country’s digital economy and digital society, and employed information technology and communications with a view to enhancing public services,” he said.

“The public sector has digitized many of the services and made them available online and also enhanced e-governance.”

Artificial Intelligence was an evolving technology that had seen rapid developments and could offer many benefits in terms of the digital transformation efforts, he added.

Jamal Aldeen said that digital transformation had been implemented across different sectors. For example, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority had introduced touch-free and remote payments services to increase the number of noncash transactions. This technology would also allow consumers to make easier and faster electronic purchases, he said, noting that Saudi Arabia would be a global pioneer in the technology and innovation sector in the future.

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.”