In its ongoing efforts to reform its legal system, Saudi Arabia is opening the first of a set of specialized courts that will deal with less complicated legal issues that are overseen by judges with particular focus on those issues. At present, any matter can go before any judge. With a lack of codification of laws and reliant on the knowledge (and preferences) of individual judges, this can lead to unfair decisions as well as those that linger in the courts for inordinate lengths of time.
More specialized courts are planned to address labor and commerce as well as one to deal with seeing to the actual implementation of court decisions.
Justice Minister Muhammed Al-Issa has launched a system of fast disposal of legal cases at the Social Status Court (SSC) in Riyadh.
“The system of making decisions in a single sitting on cases that do not require detailed study has been implemented in the Social Status Court in Riyadh. The system will be extended to other courts gradually,” Al-Issa, who is also chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), said while inaugurating a system of special courts, including courts for commercial and labor disputes and courts for implementation of verdicts issued by other courts.
The new special courts will take away the existing huge burden on general courts as all cases will be classified according to their topics and then transferred to special independent courts, the minister said.
The move will also speed up the decision-making process in each court, as a court will look into issues of a particular category only, a local Arabic daily reported on Wednesday.
Saudi Gazette reports on the latest demographics of Saudi Arabia. According to the report, Saudis represent 68% of the population, leaving 32% as resident expatriates. The ratio of Saudi males to females is close to 50:50, with 10.18 males compared to 10.09 females, in keeping with the global ratio of the sexes.
Saudis account for 68% of Kingdom’s population
Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — There were 20.27 million Saudi citizens at the end of 2013, accounting for about 68 percent of the Kingdom’s total population of 29.99 million, local daily Al-Madinah reported Wednesday.
Quoting an official statistical report by he Central Department of Statistics and Information, the newspaper said the Kingdom’s population went up by 2.7 percent last year, from 29.2 million in 2012.
The report said there were 10.18 million Saudi males, 34 percent of the entire population, compared to 10.09 million females (33.6 percent).
The report said there were 9.92 million non-Saudis living in the Kingdom in 2013, representing about 32 percent of the population.
According to the report, there were 6.64 million male expatriates (22.1 percent) and 3.08 million women (10.3 percent).
Saudi Arabia makes its condemnation of the Islamic State complete with a statement from Grand Mufti Sheikh Abudulaziz Aal-Alsheikh. The government has already placed the group on its list of terrorist organizations and has promised to punish those found supporting it. It has followed through on that promise by firing imams and jailing Saudis who return to the country after fighting alongside the group in Syria and Iraq. The country has also warned those who offer support — financial or other — to the extremist group.
Grand Mufti: IS is Islam’s ‘enemy No. 1’
Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Aal Alsheikh on Tuesday blasted Al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants as “enemy number one” of Islam.
“The ideas of extremism, radicalism and terrorism… have nothing to do with Islam and (their proponents) are the enemy number one of Islam,” the Kingdom’s top scholar said in a statement issued here on Tuesday.
He cited militants from the Islamic State, which has declared a “caliphate” straddling large parts of Iraq and Syria, and the international Al-Qaeda terror network.
“Muslims are the main victims of this extremism, as shown by crimes committed by the so-called Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and groups linked to them,” the grand mufti said, quoting a verse from the Holy Qur’an urging the “killing” of people who do deeds harmful to Islam, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
Alsheikh’s stance reflects the growing international hostility toward Islamic State militants, known for their brutality.
I don’t know whether there’s been a new rash of objectionable materials or that the volume of existing materials has reached a peak, but Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is asking for the Ministry of Interior to make more arrests for blasphemy.
Saudi Gazette reports that the Commission is seeking to have more websites blocked and more action taken against those on social media who are “distorting” Islam in various ways. Pornography, of course, remains a big issue as the government, with its filters operated by the Communication & Information Technology Commission (CITC) can only do so much. A blocked site can change its address almost as quickly as the CITC can block them. Those Saudis with a modicum of computer savvy can find their way around the filters and blocks with ease.
Haia asks ministry to arrest blasphemers
Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) has asked the Ministry of Interior to arrest those who insult Almighty Allah or the Prophet (peace be upon him), Makkah daily reported.
The Haia said it is coordinating with the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) to block pornographic websites and others that insult the Muslim faith.
The commission said this coordination resulted in a large number of websites being blocked.
The commission said it is preparing reports on a number of programs, applications and copies of the Holy Qur’an whose verses have been distorted. It is coordinating with the authorities to prevent the circulation of such material, the Haia said.
Asharq Alawsat reports that Saudi Arabia is fully backing a UN resolution that attacks the funding of ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front. The resolution names six individuals to be blacklisted, including two Saudi nationals. Both already appear on Saudi Arabia’s list of “most-wanted” criminals.
Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia committed to implementing a UN Security Resolution targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front on Friday, after the measure blacklisted two Saudi nationals.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN, Abdullah Al-Maulamy, told Asharq Al-Awsat the Kingdom was always in agreement with the “international legitimacy” of the Council and its decrees, and that the latest resolution was being studied closely so that “decisions could be made in light of them.”
The Security Council unanimously adopted a UK-drafted resolution on Friday designed to attack the sources of funding for both groups, blacklisting six individuals believed to be associated with the groups and freezing their assets.
Two of the six individuals, Abdul-Mohsen Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Sharekh and Abdulrahman Mohamed Zafir Al-Dabidi Al-Jahani—both accused of links to the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front group currently active in Syria—were Saudi nationals.
Who represents the greatest threat to Muslims today? It’s not the US. It’s not Israel. It’s other Muslims, argues Azeem Ibrahim, of the US Army War College, at Al Arabiya TV.
Killing Muslims in the name of Islam is perverse. Religion is being used as a cloak for what is actually “ethnic, social, sectarian and/or tribal cleansing,” he says. Again, an article worth reading in full.
What is the greatest global threat to Muslims?
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
Who is responsible for the greatest numbers of deaths against Muslims today? Who commits the worst atrocities against Muslims? It is not the West that claims the highest headcount nor is it Israel. The sad truth is that today Muslims kill the most Muslims around the world.
Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in late 2010, more than 100,000 have been killed. Many of these deaths were in Syria, where thousands more languish in prisons expecting similarly grim fates. And with the rise of ISIS and the threat that it poses to regional stability, many more are expected to die.
Most of the fighters are killing “infidels”. Most of the those dying are allegedly “infidels”. Almost always, that means that they are the wrong kind of Muslim to the other Muslim holding the gun. Whether they are fighters or civilians, the sin of those dying is in many cases simply being Sunni rather than Shiite, or Shiite rather than Sunni. And woe betides any smaller minorities caught in the middle.
Writing at Al Arabiya TV, Hisham Melhem finds the origin of extremist groups like ISIS to be in the Arab penchant for “conspiracy theories, delusions, self-deception, paranoia and xenophobia.” Undemocratic societies, where government seek to control the flow of information, leave vacuums which people will seek to fill. They end up filling them with nonsense, with anger, with paranoia.
It’s worth reading his column in full. He does a good job of pointing out the various zany theories that are rippling across not only the Arab world, but the world at large. And it’s scary.
Most people are averse to introspection, and rarely engage in self-criticism. Arabs are no different. However, the political culture that developed in the Arab World in the last 60 years, particularly in countries ruled by autocratic regimes, shifted blame from their catastrophic failures in governance to other external, sinister forces. For these countries, self-criticism has become next to impossible.
Over time, this legacy has created fertile terrain for conspiracy theories, delusions, self-deception, paranoia and xenophobia. If you read an Arab newspaper or many a website in the region, you will invariably encounter some of these symptoms. Admittedly, sometimes they can be entertaining, but in most cases they are downright ugly, reflecting deep pathologies of fear.
According to a report in Arab News, Saudi Arabia is now the Arab world’s leading producer of honey. Five thousand beekeepers are producing 9,000 tons of honey per year.
Due to the popularity of locally-produced foodstuffs, some Saudi honeys sell for as much as SR1,000 (US $300) per kilo.
Kingdom top producer of honey in Arab world
Jeddah: Irfan Mohammmed
The Kingdom is the leading producer of honey in the Arab World, producing over 9,000 tons annually and is home to 5,000 beekeepers and 1 million bee nests, said Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, organizing committee chairman of Al-Baha’s seventh International Honey Festival. The festival concludes Saturday in the presence of international experts and regional visitors.
The sale of honey went soaring at the festival, organized by the Beekeepers Cooperative Association (BCA) under the auspices of Baha Gov. Prince Mishari bin Saud in collaboration with Abdullah Bugshan, chairman of the bee research unit at King Saud University (KSU).
“Beekeepers have sold over SR2 million worth of honey in a single week,” Al-Ghamdi told Arab News.
A Saudi imam has received an 8-year jail sentence, a travel ban of 10 years following his jail term, and is banned for life from preaching sermons, Saudi Gazette reports. The unnamed imam was convicted of spreading sedition and sowing sectarian dissent.
RIYADH — The Summary Court in Riyadh has sentenced a 52-year-old Saudi mosque imam to eight years and banned him from traveling outside for 10 years after serving his jail term. He was also prevented from delivering sermons for life. The court said in its verdict that the accused had shown disobedience to the country’s ruler, tried to seed sectarian dissension undermining the national unity and attacking renowned Muslim scholars. Both the defendant and the General Attorney objected to the ruling and have been asked to appeal within 30 days. He said the prison term would be counted from the day hewas arrested in 2011.
Saudi Gazette reports that the death of a Saudi national upon his return from Sierra Leone was not due to the Ebola virus. Tests in Saudi Arabia, Germany, and the US show that it was more likely that he died of meningitis.
The Saudi ban on Haj visas for people coming from Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea remains in effect.
RIYADH — The lab tests on samples taken from the Saudi man who was suspected to have died of Ebola virus showed that Ebola was not responsible for his death. Local Arabic daily Al-Watan quoted informed sources on Wednesday as saying that the tests conducted in the US and Germany gave negative results. The sources said Ibrahim Al-Zahrani had possibility died of meningitis, a disease that he might have contracted in Sierra Leone where he was on a visit. Acting health minister Adel Fakeih told the GCC health ministers in Riyadh on Wednesday that the Kingdom was free of the Ebola virus. The ministers asked the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars to issue an official fatwa (religious edict) on how the people who die of highly infectious diseases should be buried.
Saudi and US media report that King Abdullah has donated $100 million to a new anti-terrorism center to be run out of the UN in New York.
I suppose that anything helps, but I’m not really convinced that this will result in anything useful. The UN has far too long a history of just talking about things and never coming to conclusions — never mind actions — because there are so many vested interests as well as proxy battles being fought out.
Saudi Gazette carries the statement issued by the government-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA)…
NEW YORK — The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud donated $ 100 million in support of the New York-based International Center to Combat Terrorism.
The check of the donation has been handed over to the UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon, in New York today, by the Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel bin Ahemd Al-Jubeir, in the presence of the Saudi Representative to the UN Abdullah bin Yahiya Al-Mualami.
Ban Kin Moon expressed gratitude of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Kingdom for this generous donation worth $ 100 million for the International Centre to Combat Terrorism.
In a joint press conference he held with the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Al-Jubeir and the Saudi Permanent Representative to the UN Al-Mouallimi, Ban said that he has met King Abdullah, last month, in Jeddah and he thanked him, personally, for leading this cause and so many others. The centre itself is a brainchild of the King, which has been suggested in 2005 and launched in 2011, he said. The UN-based centre is chaired by Al-Mouallimi.
The Saudi government is vehemently denying press reports that tens of thousands of Egyptian and Pakistani troops have been brought into the country to help secure its northern border with Iraq and Jordan, in light of the growing strength of the so-called Islamic State. Reports, seemingly originating in London, have suggested such an event.
As Arab News reports, the Saudi Arabian National Guard believes it is able to confront any such threat and has not called for foreign assistance.
National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah has denied press reports that Egyptian and Pakistani military forces have been deployed along the Kingdom’s northern border.
He said Saudi armed forces are capable to defend the Kingdom.
“We have very good relations with Egypt and Pakistan but the reports about the presence of their forces in the Kingdom are not true,” the prince said while talking to reporters in the northern city of Arar where he arrived on Tuesday to inspect National Guard forces stationed in the region.
“The Kingdom’s military strength has reached 27 million, which is the population of the country including soldiers and ordinary citizens. Every citizen in the Kingdom is a soldier and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has stated he will be in forefront to defend the nation,” he said.
Asked about the threat of terrorist groups to the Kingdom, Prince Miteb said: “It’s better for them not to approach the Saudi border.”