Saudis experience the magic of Wadi Hanifa in winter

Saudis experience the magic of Wadi Hanifa in winter
The valley has water channels, green corridors, walkways, and picnic spots for visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty that includes orchards and farms. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 December 2020

Saudis experience the magic of Wadi Hanifa in winter

Saudis experience the magic of Wadi Hanifa in winter
  • The popular location has ready-set tables and cushions available for rent in designated spots

RIYADH: With cooler winter weather sweeping Saudi Arabia, and with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) surges putting many countries back into lockdown, people in the Kingdom are heading to open spaces so they can have fun and relax in a safe yet socially distanced way.
Camping in the Kingdom, called kahsta, often involves activities that take place throughout the day and late into the night with locals enjoying different dances, cuisines, and games to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
One of the places becoming a major attraction for young people and families to enjoy the magic of wintertime is Wadi Hanifa, which is located on the outskirts of Riyadh.
It was known in the pre-Islamic era as Wadi Al-Irdh and was renamed Wadi Hanifa after the Bani Hanifa tribe that populated the area.
The valley, which runs for a length of 120 km from the northwest to southeast, was once a waste disposal site. Now it has water channels, green corridors, walkways, and picnic spots for visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty that includes orchards and farms.
Jerry Inzerillo, who is CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), told Arab News the wadi was famous because it had what humans needed: Water, food, shelter, and shade. He said it was a place where people told stories, raised their families, and prospered together, but then people began taking it for granted.
Inzerillo said that next year there would be several new attractions opening as part of the development of Wadi Hanifa.

BACKGROUND

Camping in the Kingdom, called kahsta, often involves activities that take place throughout the day and late into the night.

“We’re putting tens of thousands of new palm trees, big parks. We’re going to have pets and horses, walking and jogging trails, cafes and restaurants and petting zoos and activities. It’s going to be so much fun to be in the wadi that there will be plenty to do.”
Afnan Ahmed, who is a frequent visitor to Wadi Hanifa, said it was a place where people could enjoy themselves in big groups.
“Recently, my friends and I have been going to Wadi Hanifa, especially when the weather has become a little cooler. We wanted a place that we can all fit in, that can accommodate us, because we are many, a place where we don’t need to make any formal reservations, a place where we can relax and have fun. I think Wadi Hanifa gained popularity, especially after COVID-19 where people can’t travel abroad, and people need somewhere to breathe as it has amazing scenery.”
The popular location has ready-set tables and cushions available for rent in designated spots. The open area overlooking the valley, and with the Riyadh skyline in the distance, can be added as a newly favored evening getaway for all.


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 54 min 1 sec ago

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.”