Viewpoint: Eyad Reda
Over the past five years Saudi Arabia has witnessed unprecedented legal, social and economic reforms. Such reforms extended to the public sector’s operating model, the economy and society as a whole, and the foundations have been laid for future success. There have been calls for legal and judicial reforms before, but now the Kingdom appears determined to heed those calls by implementing changes to “preserve the security and interests of citizens, and to help in the development and prosperity of the country”, in the words of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
The government has worked hard to improve the effectiveness of public services, and to implement legal and judicial reforms that have unlocked opportunities for development and investment. These reforms have opened Saudi Arabia to the world, created platforms for future growth and helped to improve citizens’ quality of life, ultimately strengthening the prospects of an ambitious nation.
The year 2022 marks the fifth anniversary of Vision 2030, and a new phase on the road towards sustained transformation. Saudi Arabia will increasingly enable citizens and businesses to unleash their full potential while diversifying the economy. The country will continue implementing legal and judicial reforms; supporting the digital economy; improving and reinforcing local content; and developing innovative opportunities for the future. These goals will be supported by the development of an attractive regulatory environment for local and foreign investment, in addition to the extension of the role of the Public Investment Fund in the economy, as well as the ongoing transformation and unlocking of new sectors.
Stemming from the awareness of the need to reduce economic dependence on oil by diversifying sources of income and developing human capital, the government believes it is necessary to implement reforms to ensure growth and development. Saudi Arabia received 46.5% of its total revenue from non-oil sources in 2021, a record high. This represents a significant change from a 90% reliance on oil-related revenue in the past.
Saudi Arabia also announced judicial reforms, putting the Kingdom on a path to establishing codified law – a considerable step in a traditionally conservative country whose legal system is based on sharia, or Islamic law. In addition, the Kingdom has implemented significant reforms to the legal system, including the introduction of the 2018 Bankruptcy Law; the 2019 Government Tenders and Procurement Law and its implementing regulations; the 2020 Securing Rights on Movable Assets Law; the 2020 amendments to the Labour Law, including the introduction of new rights for foreign workers; the 2020 Commercial Courts Law, which introduced several measures to improve judicial system efficiency; and the 2022 Companies Law, which facilitates corporate procedures, safeguards rights and reduces disputes to position Saudi Arabia as s leading global corporate regulatory system.
Other judicial reforms such as the Personal Status Law, the Civil Transactions Law, the Penal Code for Discretionary Sanctions and the Law of Evidence have recently been put in place. These laws represent a new direction that will help the country improve legal procedures and surveillance mechanisms to achieve the principles of justice, clarify the lines of accountability, become more internationally competitive and set a solid platform for achieving the objectives of Vision 2030.
Under the leadership of the crown prince, Vision 2030 was launched to improve the Kingdom’s strategic position, reform the legal framework and position the country as a globally competitive economy with broad investment capabilities. We are confident that the Kingdom has a promising future.