Saudi Arabia driving forward with transport benefits for women

Saudi Arabia driving forward with transport benefits for women
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Updated 04 November 2020

Saudi Arabia driving forward with transport benefits for women

Saudi Arabia driving forward with transport benefits for women
  • To ensure security and inspire trust in working women, Wusool has partnered with companies that are licensed by the Ministry of Transport

JEDDAH: Wusool, a program to help Saudi women in the private sector with transport costs, has been updated to benefit more working women in the Kingdom.

Backed by the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF), the program aims to cut the cost of transportation for working women on their trips to and from their workplaces. It supports and empowers women in the workforce throughout the Kingdom.

A new mechanism will help women by providing an 80 percent subsidy for the cost of each trip. For those whose monthly salaries are below SR6,000 ($1,600), a maximum of SR1,100 can be deducted from transportation costs each month. Meanwhile, SR800 per month can be deducted for those whose wages range from SR6,001 to SR8,000, as long as the trip does not exceed 60 km.

The program previously covered a 12-month period for working women, but new changes have expanded it to 24 months. To ensure security and inspire trust in working women, Wusool has partnered with companies that are licensed by the Ministry of Transport.

Reem Aqad, a 24-year-old general manager at a trading company in Jeddah, tried Wusool during the last year.

“It is very helpful. If your trip costs SR50, you can end up paying only SR10,” she told Arab News. “When I tried it, it was a one-year offer that could be arranged the moment you’re registered with the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).”

According to Wusool’s website, all women who have not been registered with GOSI for over three years with the same job can apply.

Aqad said that the service was perfect, and when asked to suggest changes, she said she only wished it lasted longer than a year.

The general manager said she used Wusool daily to get to work and back, and described it as easy to use and subscribe to.

“Some would assume because it’s a service that caters to customers during busy work hours that cars would be unavailable, but they’re not. It’s as smooth as ordering an Uber,” she added.

Waad Abdullah, 26, has not tried the service, but has seen it benefit her colleagues at the insurance company where she worked.

“I think it’s very helpful for mothers especially, because of how their schedule would often go against their children’s in the morning,” she told Arab News. “ It also saves up their money to be put into other things like tuition, house supplies and the like.”

Abdullah said her friends at work found it easy to register with the service. “The companies they’re using are also trusted and well known, which helps us feel secure.”

She added: “It’s something that I haven’t heard exists anywhere else in the world. The country is enabling women, giving them the chance to work (for women who can apply at companies to drive other women) and also giving them privileges with such a program, which is really nice.”

Nora Al-Rifai, a 29-year-old who works in human resources, came across Wusool through her job. She made an internal announcement within her workplace to educate women about the program.

“We noticed not many female employees knew about it,” she said. “I think it’s a wonderful initiative because due to the nature of our lands, we don’t have many public transportation options. Female employees have to pay unreasonable amounts of money for it and the quality of services and cars sometimes doesn’t match the price.”

An added bonus the program offers women is helping them spend their money on things that are more important, she said.

“I believe it helps in comforting these employees, which reflects positively on their enthusiasm for work and productivity, knowing that they won’t bear the costs from their own salaries and that their government is supporting them,” said Al-Rifai.

Account manager Rania Al-Ghamdi said that the program began a year before the ban was lifted on women driving in the Kingdom. “In a way, it’s been used to support women until they get their licenses, or those who still don’t wish to drive yet.”

She told Arab News: “There’s still a lot of demand on driving schools and many women are still waiting for schools to open up in their regions, or they’re learning and waiting until the demand lessens to apply. This program is for those women who still can’t drive, to support women in the workforce, especially when women’s salaries are considerably lower than men’s.”

Wusool covers 13 regions in the Kingdom, including Riyadh, Makkah, the Eastern Province, Madinah, Tabuk, Asir, Qassim, Hail, Jazan, the Northern Borders, Najran, Al-Jawf and Al-Baha.

The program aims to reduce the burden of transport costs for Saudi women by providing safe, high-quality transportation services in partnership with private taxi companies through licensed applications.

Women can register in the Wusool program on the website wusool.sa.


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.”