Saudi In Words

Luxury Goods and Saudi Consumers

It is a fact that Saudi Arabia’s market is the biggest market in the GCC and young population is growing but today  they are not only buying luxury goods. On the contrary,as  enterneurship among is on the rise and with a more business-friendlier environment  many...

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New Rules for Saudi Influencers

The influence of influencers is clearly visible in Saudi society. Yet the hype that surrounds them is mainly caused by their followers as a way for them to impose their ideas through the influencers, which leads the latter to exceed their limits in order to please...

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The First Female Saudi Judge

It has just been announced that Dr. Arwa Al Jalal has been appointed a judge of the Saudi Arabian Competition Court which deals with monopolies and other anti-competitive practices. This is an amazing development where the first female lawyers received their licenses only seven years ago.

Dr. Al Jalal is an assistant professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, where she specializes in commercial and insurance law. The Committee for the Determination of Violations of the Competition Regulation is a powerful judicial body that can stop mergers and impose heavy penalties on businesses that hinder free competition.

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Saudi Arabia Abolishes Flogging

Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Council of the Judiciary has announced that judicial flogging will be replaced as a punishment by fines or imprisonment. This is part of Saudi Arabia’s human rights reforms. While flogging is one of the punishments recognized by Islamic Law, Sharia, in most cases its imposition is in the judge’s discretion.

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Saudi Women Football League All Set

British Broadcasting Cooperation BBC and Cable News Network CNN reported this week that the Saudi government launched a football league for women widening sports activities for women in the country.

With the establishment of the Sports Ministry recently, among 2 other ministries, in addition to increasing sports facilities, activities, possibilities for women, making it a compulsory subject at school and addition to the many sport events that have been/are taking place in the Kingdom lately, it looks like sports is an area that will play a significant role in the diversification of the Saudi Arabian economy.

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Shameful Waste

This week the Saudi minister for Municipalities Affairs and Urban in Charge, Majid Al Qasabi, issued a decree. This decree ordered all event managers and restaurant owners to register with charities so the food doesn’t go to waste. 

This step was introduced to utilize the food that is usually left after a big event or by restaurants. It also aims to increase awareness amongst the Saudi public regarding the importance of resources.

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The White Saudi Arabia

The pictures above show the Dahr mountain in north of Saudi Arabia. Most parts in this area, which includes Hail and Al Jouf, are covered by snow in winter.

Most of the central and northern parts of Saudi Arabia go through harsh, cold winters. Most people living abroad do not know about the seasonal weather changes here, and that it snows in Saudi Arabia.

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Dakar Rally Route a 5000km Drive Through Desert

The 42nd Dakar Rally Saudi Arabia route was announced this month. After 30 years of adventures in Africa and 10 years of excitement in South America, the rally will take place for the first time in Asia. Among the drivers, are 13 women on the challenging route to drive. This week, Burj Khalifa in Dubai displayed images of the Dakar Rally, Saudi Arabia. Of the 7,500 km route, 5000 km will be driving against the clock.

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Less Segregation, Hype Remains High

This month, the Saudi government has canceled the rule for the segregation of single men and women in restaurants. For many years it was claimed that the rule was in place to protect women, which recently sparked a fierce discussion on social media – like many such recent rule changes. http://www.dailyjournal.net/2019/12/08/ml-saudi-sex-segregation/ .

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Rapper Russ Receives “Unusual Gift” at Riyadh Concert

Last month, US rapper Russ performed in Riyadh alongside hip-hop group Migos, making it his second concert in Saudi Arabia. His shows are part of the evolving entertainment strategy which the Saudi government is implementing as part of Vision 2030.

People in Saudi Arabia are delighted by these positive developments and are slowly getting used to the wide range of entertainment that is on offer throughout the country.

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Saudi Women Can Divorce

A member of the Saudi Scholars’ Council Sheikh Abdullah Al Manea, has issued a Fatwa confirming that women may stipulate as a condition in their marriage contracts that they have the power to divorce their husbands. Al Manea said that, if the woman stipulates the condition, it is legally valid.

In Islam, a man can divorce his wife by saying 3 times “I divorce you.” It does not have to be in one go; it can expand over a period of years according to the Islamic ruling. Once it is said for the third time, the divorce has happened and it cannot be reversed.  In the Sunni sect, there are 4 different schools for interpretation of Islamic law – differing in the details of the divorce matter.

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Chicks Who Love Guns: Saudi Army Opens Its Doors to Women

The Saudi Ministry of Defence will allow women to join the Saudi armed forces in combat capacities. Several Saudi and Gulf newspapers issued the announcement, which was made this month.  

Women can be enlisted for military jobs with ranks from private soldiers to sergeants in the army’s branches of ground, air, air defense and missile forces, and medical services. The way was paved in 2018 when women were allowed to enroll in the military. However, their jobs did not involve combat but instead gave them the opportunity to work in security and passport control.

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Some Fees for Expats Waived

This week, the Saudi Council of Ministers announced that, for industrial companies, it will waive the fees that the companies have to pay in respect of their foreign employees.

The expatriate levy was introduced in 2018 in conjunction with a series of other regulations aimed at creating jobs for Saudis and moving the economy away from oil dependency. The levy is SAR 3,600 ($962) per expatriate employee for 2018, SAR 6,000 ($1,604) for 2019, and SAR 8,400 ($2,245) for 2020, payable by the employer. In addition, an employee who has dependents in Saudi Arabia is responsible for paying the levy as follows: SAR 1,200 ($374) per dependent in 2018, SAR 2,400 ($ 642) in 2019, and SAR 3,600 ($962) in 2020.

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Time to Look Cool in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia relaxes the dress code for female tourists in an attempt to make the country more attractive for international audience. This could be the first step to relax the dress code generally. However,  it must be borne in mind that this is unlikely to affect or happen in small town and villages where traditions still rules supreme.

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The Opening of the Saudi Economy

Until 2000, the opportunities for foreign investment in Saudi Arabia were extremely restricted, essentially limited to foreign minority shareholdings in industrial development projects involving technology transfer to Saudi Arabia. Foreign participation in service or trading businesses was not possible. At the time, the economy was dominated by state-owned monopolies, many of whom provided extremely poor services to the population, as anyone who tried to get a telephone line in those days will remember. Meanwhile, the economy was going from bad to worse, with the price of Arabian crude oil having dropped from $34 per barrel in 1981 to $12 per barrel in 1998.

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Sun, Sea & Sand – Tourists Are Allowed Into Saudi Arabia

Tourists will soon be able to visit Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa, although no clear starting date has been announced. The English language daily Arab News and the semi-official Okaz reported that citizens of 50 countries, among them the Schengen countries and the USA, will be granted visa upon their arrival. Where to, is not clear either.

Okaz reported that the government is planning a showcase exhibition of Saudi tourist attractions at the end of September, but this has not been officially confirmed. The aim is to introduce attractive touristic sites in Saudi Arabia to an international audience.

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Being Boring? Not Any More in Ksa

Entertainment in Saudi Arabia has changed. For the last year and a half, the government has been offering a variety of entertainment programmes to its citizens, filling the previous void of empty, boring and dark days.

Shows, concerts by international and Arabian stars, summer festivals with bazars, posh restaurants or street food were available this summer, in and outdoor activities. It’s happening all over the country, giving many people from all parts of Saudi Arabia a chance to find what they like. Have a look into the entertainment calendar for 2019/2020 above. I raised my eyebrows to above my forehead when I read it.

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New Moves on the Travel Front

This week, English-speaking newspaper, Saudi Gazette, published an article reporting that Saudi Passport Authority Jawazat will not send messages to the guardian informing him about the trace of a female/s under his guardianship as it was part of their service so far.

In the past, the service I was that the guardian would receive a full and in-details message of the woman’s travel information (time, day, flight, destination, etc) issued by Absher (an electronic system dealing with governmental and social affairs. Abshir was set up by the government for citizens to handle their affairs much quicker and more efficient.

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Is the Entertaiment Cost-Effective?

One would think this a great entertainment opportunity for those who opt to stay in Saudi over summer. But in fact, the summer season might turn out to be a costly affair. “I need about €3000 to attend all the concerts and visit all the restaurants I would like,” says Amal M, housewife, 38 years old. But she adds it’s worth experiencing this in Saudi Arabia. And while such events did not use to be well organised, surprisingly this year all information was easily accessible on social media. The organisers are keeping the public well-informed both in Arabic and English about the programs and ticket sale.

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Soaps Galore

Like anywhere in the Arab world, soap operas and drama series of all sorts have been a window to the world and major entertainment for most Saudis in the past decade. All these productions take them into a world that they may never visit, express ideas that they cannot articulate, and show emotions that they may have but must suppress. There is a list of reasons for why someone is watching one series or follows a cookery programme.

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Women Running for Run

Running and walking started to become trendy in Jeddah two decades ago. Men and women alike began walking in pedestrian areas as one of the few exercise facilities available at the time. Anyone familiar with Saudi Arabia, especially Jeddah, knows that the infrastructure was very poor, making it uncomfortable for people to walk. At the time, it was a bold step for a woman to go out and exercise, but that did not hinder many to start. Eventually, it turned into a trend.

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Smartphone Women’s Right

This week I read on Twitter that a Saudi female lawyer has developed an app that helps women understand their rights. I was surprised that this news item was not mentioned in international media, which usually picks up information concerning women’s rights in Saudi Arabia very quickly.

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Second season of AlAssouf

Ramadan is a holy month in which Muslims fast, worship and pray from sunrise until sunset, an exhausting duty. The release comes after sunset with eating and relaxing from the tiredness of fasting. Some sleep, others like to watch series on television.

Series have been in trend for the last 3 decades among Arab viewers. While in their first appearance in the 80 they came – censored of course – from as far as US, Mexico, in the last decade they moved closer, Turkey. Arabic series from Egypt, Kuwait, and other Arab countries were popular as well.

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Ramadan Starting in Saudi Arabia

The start of Ramadan is usually a big guess in Saudi Arabia.

According to Sharia, the Islamic law, a crescent of the new moon that signals the beginning of a month must be spotted. Nowadays, this is done by technology at the General Authority of Metrology and Environment in Jeddah. In addition, the government encourages citizens to search in the skies for the crescent. Once a person believes to have seen it, he or she can go to the nearest judge and give evidence of the sighting of the new moon. Usually, it is seen after sunset and announced after the last prayer.

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Expats Leaving Saudi Arabia – but Are They Being Replaced by Locals?

This week, Bloomberg published an article on the number of expats who left Saudi Arabia in the past three years. The article focuses on the claim that these jobs have not yet been filled. Over the years, many Saudis have expressed their relief – especially on Twitter – over foreigners leaving the country. They believe that expats and foreigners misused the benefits of living in Saudi Arabia. In some cases this may have been correct, but many expats and foreigners were doing jobs for which Saudis were not qualified, or which they did not want to do.

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Saudi Reaction to Christchurch Terror

In Saudi Arabia, Saudis reacted, like elsewhere in the world, to the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. The issue went public as it happened.

King Salman released an official statement on the same day of the Christchurch attacks, calling them “a terrorist attack” and urged the international community to combat “hate speech and terrorism”.

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Activists on Trial

This week, the trial of ten Saudi activists started in Riyadh, who had allegedly been held for nine months without charge, amid rumors of mistreatment. In the last months, international media has been reporting continuously on the case of Saudi jailed human rights activists, raising concern about their fate and fairness of the trial.

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No More Prayer Breaks for Shops?

The long on-going discussion on whether shops in Saudi Arabia should be closing for prayers or not went active on Twitter again, with a hashtag that can be translated as “shops-to-open-during-prayer-times”. At present, all shops must close for prayer times to give salespeople the opportunity to pray. In restaurants, no service is allowed during prayer times.

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Heela Alfaraj: A Female Football Commentator

Heela Alfaraj is the first female voice to comment on female football games in Saudi Arabia. She will start her job at the beginning of next month, commenting on the First Female Six-Day Football Clubs Championship taking place in Damamm in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The tournament will host 200 female players representing 16 teams from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. Saudi female football has been active since 2006, but this is the first competition of its kind. The aim of this tournament is to support female sports in the region.

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