Saudi ministry launches corrective period for anti-concealment law

Under a new initiative, businesses in the Kingdom that are considered involved in
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Under a new initiative, businesses in the Kingdom that are considered involved in "commercial concealment" are given six months to correct their status. (Supplied photo)
Under a new initiative, businesses in the Kingdom that are considered involved in
2 / 2
Under a new initiative, businesses in the Kingdom that are considered involved in "commercial concealment" are given six months to correct their status. (Supplied photo)
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Updated 04 March 2021

Saudi ministry launches corrective period for anti-concealment law

Saudi ministry launches corrective period for anti-concealment law
  • Businesses in the Kingdom that are currently engaged in "commercial concealment" are given six options to correct their status until Aug. 23

JEDDAH: The National Program for Combating Commercial Concealment announced the start of a corrective period for violators of the system, ending on Aug. 23 after a six-month time frame.

“The corrective period of the anti-concealment law began. Those wishing to correct the situation of their businesses can apply electronically and benefit from the advantages of the corrective period and exception from the penalties stipulated in the law,” said a statement on the ministry’s website.

Regulations for correcting legal status relating to commercial concealment, as approved by the Ministry of Commerce, involve six options.

Violators can allow the entry of a non-Saudi partner into a business, or register the ownership of a facility in the name of a non-Saudi, after they fulfill the legal requirements for ownership.

Another option is to continue practicing business activity by introducing a new partner — a Saudi or licensed foreign investor — and registering the change with the Ministry of Commerce.

A Saudi violator can sell or waive a facility, while a non-Saudi violator can obtain the privileged iqama and complete a correction of status by taking advantage of the iqama benefits.

A final option in the corrective period lets a non-Saudi leave the Kingdom permanently through a final exit visa after submitting a pledge to abandon previous business rights, and announcing this through the means specified by the Ministry within a period not exceeding 30 days.

The new corrective regulations also state that an exemption from penalties will not include violators who were arrested before submitting a request to resolve their situation, or those who were referred to the Saudi Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution before submitting their request.

The request to correct a business status will be reviewed to verify that it meets the necessary requirements, and the applicant will be informed of the result within 90 days. The Ministry can extend this period in the event that it is incomplete based on acceptable reasons and justifications.

If a correction to an establishment’s status is incomplete, the applicant will be required to complete other corrective procedures within 180 days from the expiry date of the first deadline.

Talat Hafiz, a Saudi economist, financial analyst, and board member of the Saudi Financial Association, said commercial concealment is a major financial crime in the business environment of any country, including the Kingdom, “since it works against fair and unjustifiable commercial trading and causes significant harm to the economy and to its gross domestic product.”

He said: “The government of Saudi Arabia has been alerted to such risks and consequences of commercial concealment, and has introduced a very powerful national program to combat such economic and commercial disease by implementing the National Program for Combating the Commercial Concealment.”

Also known as the national anti-commercial concealment (Tasattur) program, the initiative aims to combat all types of commercial concealment by enforcing a number of measures and actions, including a gradual requirement for all business outlets to use electronic payment systems in their trade activities.

“This will give the consumer the choice to use different means of payment, in addition to cash payments,” Hafiz said. “This is part of the program’s initiative, under the title ‘Obliging shops and outlets to provide electronic payment systems.’”

In cases where these regulations are violated, stern measures and penalties will be imposed.

The procedures are part of the recommendations and directives of the Saudi leadership, Hafiz said, and are relevant to combating commercial concealment through the consolidation of efforts among several government sectors.

The program’s primary mission is to regulate financial transactions and eliminate the illegal remittance of funds.

“The program was launched by the Ministry of Commerce in Saudi Arabia to limit the spread of commercial fraud and to ensure legal commercial trading in the country,” Hafiz said.

“The participants in the National Program for Combating the Commercial Concealment continue to work together, consolidate efforts and coordinate among each other for the implementation of the program’s recommendations.”

Each authority will carry out its own designated tasks, taking into consideration the fulfillment of the program’s objectives. Evaluations and assessment will be completed by every concerned authority during all implementation stages of the program.

The program ensures that all commercial businesses in Saudi Arabia are legally run and are established in accordance with Saudi commercial law and legal regulations.

“Such programs will limit cases of money laundering, because a well and legally established business doesn’t need to wash its money, and clean it up to converted money that looks and seems that is coming and generated from legal sources,” Hafiz said.

A recent example of commercial concealment crime involved a Saudi citizen and two expats. They were handed severe sentences following questioning by the Saudi Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution.

The Saudi national established two businesses and enabled two men hailing from Africa to handle illicit money for transfer abroad in exchange for payment.

Following the investigation, authorities handed the fraudsters prison sentences for periods of no less than 16 years and fines of no less than SR168,000 ($44,793).

Authorities also seized SR739,990,490 in assets from the three, and imposed a travel ban and prohibited the Saudi national from practicing commercial activity for five years.

Public prosecution handed down an order to deport the two expats following the completion of their prison sentences. On top of this, the accomplices will have their commercial registrations canceled, and are required to collect due Zakat taxes and fees.

The judgment of the case will also be published in two local newspapers, while the illegal funds will be tracked abroad through statutory procedures.

Decoder

TASATTUR PROGRAM

Saudi Arabia's Tassatur program is also known as the National Anti-Commercial Concealment initiative, which aims to stamp out the practice of Saudis fronting for foreign nationals who are engaged in commercial activities in the Kingdom.


Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province

Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province
Saudi police arrested seven people for violating isolation and quarantine instructions. (SPA)
Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province

Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province
  • Health Ministry reports 948 new cases, 775 recoveries, 9 deaths

JEDDAH: Eastern Province police on Saturday arrested seven people for violating isolation and quarantine instructions, after they were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

Regional police spokesman Lt. Col. Mohammed bin Shar Al-Shehri said they had been caught in Dammam, Abqaiq, Al-Ahsa and Alkhobar and that all preliminary legal procedures had been taken against them for their cases to be referred to Public Prosecution.
People who violate quarantine procedures in Saudi Arabia are fined up to SR200,000 ($53,333), jailed for up to two years or both.
If the violation is repeated, the penalty imposed from the previous incident is doubled.
COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise in Saudi Arabia, with 948 new infections reported on Saturday to bring the total to 404,054.
The country has 9,449 active cases and 1,018 of them are in critical condition.

FASTFACT

People who violate quarantine procedures in Saudi Arabia are fined up to SR200,000 ($53,333), jailed for up to two years or both. If the violation is repeated, the penalty imposed from the previous incident is doubled.

Riyadh reported the highest number of cases with 419, followed by Makkah with 210 and the Eastern Province with 133. Three regions reported cases in the single digits: Najran with nine, Baha with eight and Jouf with seven cases.
There were 775 new recoveries, taking this total to 387,795, and a further nine deaths due to COVID-19 complications. The death toll is 6,810.
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 6.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses so far. Approximately 20 percent of the Kingdom’s population has now received at least one jab.
There were 51,126 PCR tests carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total number conducted in the Kingdom to more than 16.12 million.


Dozens of world’s finest carpets cover floor of Prophet’s Chamber in Madinah

Dozens of world’s finest carpets cover floor of Prophet’s Chamber in Madinah
Visitors were allowed to enter the chamber in groups. All carpets were disinfected after every group. (SPA)
Updated 18 April 2021

Dozens of world’s finest carpets cover floor of Prophet’s Chamber in Madinah

Dozens of world’s finest carpets cover floor of Prophet’s Chamber in Madinah
  • More than 23,000 liters of eco-friendly disinfectants have been used for sanitizing carpets at the Prophet’s Mosque and the Bab Al-Salam corridor over the past few months
  • The channel reported that every carpet was fitted with an electronic chip containing data

JEDDAH: Dozens of the world’s finest carpets cover the floor of Rawdah Al-Sharifah (the Prophet’s Chamber) at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, as part of the Saudi government’s care for the Two Holy Mosques.
There are 50 carpets in the chamber and all are crafted from top-quality materials and woven to the highest standards.
Bandar Al-Husseini is head of the carpet department at the Services Affairs Administration of the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. He said that the carpets had scheduled sweeping and cleaning programs that were carried out on a daily basis.
“In case a carpet is damaged it is immediately removed and replaced with another carpet,” he said. “The carpets are also subject to disinfection and sanitization processes around the clock.”
He told the Al-Ekhbariya channel that visitors were allowed to enter the chamber in groups, adding that all carpets were disinfected and sanitized after every group.
The channel reported that every carpet was fitted with an electronic chip containing data.

HIGHLIGHT

There are 50 carpets in the chamber and all are crafted from top-quality materials and woven to the highest standards.

“These chips can give information about a certain carpet since it was made and information about the cleansing history of the carpet and its future cleaning schedule,” Al-Ekhbariya reported.
More than 23,000 liters of eco-friendly disinfectants have been used for sanitizing carpets at the Prophet’s Mosque and the Bab Al-Salam corridor over the past few months.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, this step is part of precautionary measures taken to ensure the safety of worshippers and visitors during the coronavirus pandemic.
It also said that fragrances were used more than 7,743 times to perfume the mosque during the same period.

Mosque committees have been changing 450 carpets, and replacing the ones used in the Prophet’s Chamber every 10 days.

The mosque has also been applying preventive measures by distancing people, using marks on the carpets to avoid congestion.


Saudi charity platform receives SR260 million in donations in 24 hours

Saudi charity platform receives SR260 million in donations in 24 hours
Ehsan is designed to be easily accessible to all of Saudi Arabia’s residents, allowing them to donate to causes such as renovating and furnishing the homes of the needy, giving food baskets to families, providing care for the elderly. (SPA)
Updated 52 min 11 sec ago

Saudi charity platform receives SR260 million in donations in 24 hours

Saudi charity platform receives SR260 million in donations in 24 hours
  • Ehsan acts as a safe and legal way of donating money to worthy causes, with people putting their money into trusted hands

JEDDAH: Charity platform Ehsan has received SR260 million (($69.3 million) in donations in the first 24 hours of its launch.

King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, philanthropists and companies are among those supporting Saudi Arabia’s latest national charity campaign.
Among the largest donations received are: SR40 million from Waqf Sulaiman Al-Rajhi; SR25 million from the late Sheikh Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Rajhi’s charities Nama and Ataa; SR15 million from Saudi Aramco; SR10 million from Saudi Telecom Co.; SR7 million from Al-Rajhi Bank, and SR5 million each from Saudi Basic Industries Corp. and Saudi National Bank.
The donations, which continue to be made, will benefit hundreds of thousands of people.
Ehsan is designed to be easily accessible to all of the Kingdom’s residents, allowing them to donate to causes such as renovating and furnishing the homes of the needy, giving food baskets to families, providing care for the elderly, helping dialysis patients, and housing orphans.
Each cause has a set limit and users can select which area to donate to and follow the progress of their contributions.
Ehsan has also integrated other charities’ services into its systems: Furijat, an Interior Ministry platform to help prisoners convicted of financial crimes, and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.
It also allows users to pay Zakat, a form of almsgiving treated as a religious obligation or tax that covers immediate needs such as food, water, shelter and medicine for those in need.

FASTFACTS

Among the largest donations received are:

SR40m Waqf Sulaiman Al-Rajhi

SR25m Nama and Ataa charities

SR15m Saudi Aramco

SR10m Saudi Telecom Co.

Ehsan CEO Abdulaziz Al-Hammadi told the Al-Ekhbariya news channel that the campaign’s initial results had been exceptional, demonstrating the extent of giving from members of the community as well as their social solidarity.
“More than 2 million visited the site in the first four hours of the launch of the website, with more than SR70 million donated by private citizens alone so far,” said Al-Hammadi. “Through the platform, more than 500,000 people have promptly benefitted from the donations and more than 300 causes have reached their goals.”
Ehsan acts as a safe and legal way of donating money to worthy causes, with people putting their money into trusted hands.
Jameel G., a 67-year-old retired businessman, has traveled to a number of East Asian countries during the past four decades and made strong bonds and connections in a number of Muslim provinces and regions.
He said that, through this network, acquaintances would ask for help to build water wells or mosques in poor communities.
Over time, and amid less frequent traveling, he observed that construction prices were increasing and so were the funding demands. Also, the final results of the projects were not what were initially agreed on.
“Though most of my contacts are good and trustworthy people, it’s the third parties that I found to be making these demands and something was off,” he told Arab News. “The moment I found (out) that the money I was sending was swindled was when two mosques were being built at the same time and the pictures that I received were one of the same, same surroundings, same white-washed exterior and details. This incident happened 10 years ago and that was the last time I did any kind of philanthropic work.
“As I’m not very tech-savvy, I’ve requested the help of my daughter to show me how I can use the Ehsan platform to donate and I’ve also encouraged many of those I know who would like to donate money to go through the system. Too many Saudis have lost money with the aim for it to go to a good cause. It isn’t right. It’s not the Muslim way. Ehsan relieves us from that burden.”
Ehsan was launched on Friday by the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence (SDAIA).
The platform aims to promote the values of charitable work in Saudi society by encouraging donations and developing the nonprofit sector, increasing its efficiency and reliability, and contributing to enhancing the reliability and transparency of charitable and development activities.

SDAIA president, Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, said Saudi Arabia had been a pioneer in the charity field since the nation was founded by King Abdul Aziz.

“The Ehsan platform was established to help donations reach their beneficiaries easily, conveniently and promptly,” he added. “It is considered the latest advanced technological initiative, with the highest professional standards that supports and organizes charitable work in the Kingdom.”


Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs

Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs
International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular. (AFP/File)
Updated 31 min 12 sec ago

Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs

Saudi expats’ Ramadan agony as loved ones pray for end to flight curbs
  • International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular

RIYADH: While most families look forward to gatherings around the iftar table during the holy month of Ramadan, many expatriates in the Kingdom face an agonizing wait on relatives stranded in their homelands by flight suspensions.
Every Ramadan, with sunset nearing, families sit together during iftar to break their dawn-to-dusk fast, giving everyone a chance to catch up during the month-long festivity culminating in Eid Al-Fitr.
However, many expats are anxiously watching airline schedules as countries ease travel curbs, opening the way for family reunions.
International flights suspended due to coronavirus travel restrictions will resume on May 17, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority GACA said in a circular.
Anwar Pasha Ansari, an Indian expatriate working in Jeddah, told Arab News that his daughter Heba Anwar is stranded in India.
“No father and mother should go through this agony,” he said.
Ansari said that his daughter left Jeddah to appear for her bachelor’s final exam in New Delhi, hoping to rejoin her family to celebrate Eid last year.
“But perhaps destiny was preparing another fate,” he said.
Ansari said that travel bans “brought the curtain down for all parents like us whose children were held up in India.”
He added: “To add insult to injury, all students were asked to vacate their hostel and make their own living arrangements, which was a nightmare for parents working overseas.”

HIGHLIGHT

Every Ramadan, with sunset nearing, families sit together during iftar to break their dawn-to-dusk fast, giving everyone a chance to catch up during the month-long festivity culminating in Eid Al-Fitr.

With no end to travel restrictions in sight, Ansari’s daughter planned to travel to Saudi Arabia via the UAE after spending 14 days in Dubai.
Ansari said that when his daughter arrived in Dubai in January, they were elated at the prospect of reuniting with her.
But with only three days left of her quarantine, a temporary traveling restriction from Dubai to Saudi Arabia came into force and all hope was gone.
“Heba spent a substantial time hoping against hope that flights would be resumed and checking any news pertaining to flight resumption to Saudi Arabia,” said Anwar.
“She was only a couple of hours away from us.”
Finally, after all options were exhausted, Heba was forced to return to India, bravely telling her parents: “Papa and mummy, stay well, this phase will pass, too.”
Ansari’s story will be familiar to thousands separated from their children as the coronavirus pandemic challenges everyone’s patience, endurance and capacity to endure the hardships of separation.
Technology and video apps help, but are not enough to bridge the gap as families face even more time apart.
Raafat Aoun, a Lebanese expat working in the Kingdom, told Arab News: “The closure of flights has affected many expat families. My brother-in-law had to travel to Beirut to attend to an emergency. Now he finds himself in a very difficult situation as he is stuck there, and his wife and four young children are all alone in Jeddah.”
Aoun said that his brother-in-law had been stranded for more than three months.
“I am supporting them and extending them all the help I can. But this festive season is becoming very difficult for me, too. I hope and pray flights resume soon so that my brother-in-law can return to his family.”
Pakistani expatriate Syed Faiz Ahmad said that two of his relatives were stranded after traveling to Pakistan.
“One went to help his ailing father, leaving his family behind in Riyadh. But he got stuck. His wife and two children are all alone here and are desperately waiting for him to return, especially during this month of Ramadan.”


Saudi Housing Ministry signs agreements making it easier for families to own first house

Saudi Housing Ministry signs agreements making it easier for families to own first house
Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi Housing Ministry signs agreements making it easier for families to own first house

Saudi Housing Ministry signs agreements making it easier for families to own first house

RIYADH: The Housing Ministry’s Sakani program signed four agreements with a number of agencies during the Sakani Forum for the first quarter of 2021, held in Riyadh.

The agreements aim to make it easier for Saudi families to own their first house, thus achieving the goals of Vision 2030 by increasing the percentage of home ownership to 70 percent by 2030.

Sakani also honored a number of partners, including financiers, developers and contractors, for their efforts during the last period and their contributions to achieving the program’s goals.

The event was attended by the Housing Minister Majid Al-Hogail.

The agreements, which will be implemented in partnership with the private sector, included providing model engineering designs for the beneficiaries of the self-construction option through the Sakani platform, in partnership with the National Housing Company.

The first agreement was with the Technical Axis Foundation for Architectural Contracting, while the second was with Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Tuwaijri Architectural Consulting Office, the third with the Asayel Engineering Consulting Office, and the fourth with Ebdaa Group Engineering Consultants.

During the forum, the National Housing Co. and the Saudi Contractors Authority signed an agreement to prepare and license contractors to carry out building and construction works for the beneficiaries of Sakani’s self-construction option.