Saudi Arabia has been witnessing dramatic reforms in the last four years, with the latest being a judicial one announced by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This reform will develop a specialized legislation that is expected to bring about a comprehensive shift in the justice sector and consolidate the judiciary institution and its independence. This can be considered a tremendous shift in human rights in the Saudi legal environment, and a historic step that is tantamount to ushering in a new era of justice reforms. To the layman, these major reforms may seem like mere legal amendments.
In reality, however, they will contribute to promoting and safeguarding the rights of all individuals and entities by developing clear, public, and understandable regulations that will increase the ability to predict court rulings and enhance legal certainty. All of these will increase the level of trust in the Saudi judicial system and business environment, and improve human rights, especially for women and children, through codifying, publishing, and clarifying personal status laws. The new reforms will also put an end to the discretionary authority of the judges, expedite dispute resolution, increase trust in commercial commitments and contracts, and offer an attractive legal environment for investment.
The Kingdom has made great strides in its comprehensive reforms during the past four years and is now introducing a new drastic reform which will establish solid basic foundations for its modernization journey. The judicial reform does not have a foreign origin; rather, it stems from the Islamic Shariah that is based on the rules and principles of Islamic jurisprudence, while taking into account today’s reality. The new reform also makes use of the best international practices and comparative laws, especially in countries that are similar to the Kingdom or those that have advanced legislative systems. This will positively impact all society members, as well as commercial entities and investors as it stabilizes financial rights, organizes economic movement, facilitates economic decision-making, and stimulates foreign investment, all the while reducing judicial costs that result from resorting to courts and experts to settle disputes.
Since the Kingdom implements its reforms from within and with a clear vision under its leadership, it develops its own understanding of human rights protection. The new Saudi legislations will clarify the rights and obligations of individuals, uphold the principles of justice and equality among them, and elucidate the legal status, rights, and obligations of all family members to reduce judicial disputes between them. All of these changes are aimed at enhancing social stability, improving the situation of families and children, strengthening people’s feeling of the rule of law, and increasing the confidence of individuals in judicial rulings. All these transformations, laws, and legislations will further strengthen the protection of human rights in the Kingdom.
During a recent strategic dialogue session at the World Economic Forum, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stressed that the Kingdom's previous achievements, in line with Saudi Vision 2030, had consisted of accelerated reforms in the past four years and that they would double in the next 10 years. Take a look at where the Kingdom stands today after only four years of reforms. Now, imagine the considerable heights it will reach as it doubles its efforts in the next decade. This is a kingdom that does not settle for less than it deserves, or as the Crown Prince put it, “The future of the Kingdom, my dear brothers and sisters, is one of huge promise and great potential, God willing. Our precious country deserves the best.”
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al- Awsat.