Saudi Embassy evacuates 300 tourists from Lebanon

Lebanese protesters block a main road near Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport, amidst ongoing protests against dire economic conditions, on October 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2019

Saudi Embassy evacuates 300 tourists from Lebanon

  • The embassy said that evacuees were escorted to Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut by Lebanese security forces to guarantee their safety
  • Three Saudia aircraft were used to transport them

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia's embassy in Lebanon has confirmed it has facilitated the “evacuation of Saudi residents and visitors” from the country.
“The evacuation operation, imposed by the security situation in Lebanon and the importance of ensuring the safety of Saudi nationals, started Saturday at 5 a.m. after the Kingdom secured three Saudia aircraft to transport them,” the embassy told Arab News.
“Three hundred people were evacuated as of Saturday afternoon, while the total number of those wishing to leave remains unclear. We have identified a hotel in Beirut as a starting point,” it added, noting that most of those who had left were tourists.
The embassy also confirmed evacuees were escorted to Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut by Lebanese security forces to guarantee their safety.
Protests broke out in Lebanon on Thursday night, and disorder has disrupted roads leading to the airport, with burning tires blocking several key routes.
On Friday, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged its citizens already in Lebanon to exercise “utmost caution.”
Egypt’s Embassy in Beirut also called on its nationals in the country to avoid protest areas, Egyptian state news agency MENA said.
“The embassy calls on all Egyptian citizens in Lebanon to avoid the areas of gatherings and protests, to be careful in their movements and to abide by the instructions of the Lebanese authorities in this regard,” MENA reported.
Meanwhile, Kuwait’s Embassy in Lebanon asked citizens wishing to travel to the country to delay trips where possible.
“The embassy also calls on citizens currently in Lebanon to take utmost care and stay away from crowds and demonstrations,” it said on social media site Twitter.
Bahrain and the UAE warned against travel to Lebanon and called on their citizens in the country to leave immediately.


Accelerated judicial performance sees Saudi Arabia surge in global rankings

Updated 30 min 31 sec ago

Accelerated judicial performance sees Saudi Arabia surge in global rankings

  • The WEF report made special reference to Saudi Arabia’s progress in “technology governance”

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Justice has credited its widespread reforms to the Kingdom’s legal infrastructure for Saudi Arabia’s exemplary performance in world rankings in two major international reports released recently.

Following what the World Bank called “a record number of business reforms” in the past year, the organization’s Doing Business 2020 report ranked Saudi Arabia as the top country for improvement in the global business climate. And in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index, the Kingdom was placed 36 out of more than 140 countries monitored.

The WEF report made special reference to Saudi Arabia’s progress in “technology governance,” defined as the speed at which national legal frameworks were adapting to digital business models. In this metric, the Kingdom ranked third — second only to the US and Germany.

The World Bank put Saudi Arabia 62 globally in its “ease of doing business” scoring, with an overall result of 71.6 out of 100. The organization remarked that the Kingdom had made significant strides in eight World Bank focus areas.

“Our work towards streamlining the start-up, and day-to-day functioning within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — of enterprises of all scales, both foreign and domestic — has payed enormous dividends in the nation’s economic development, as can be seen in the reports from the World Bank Group and the World Economic Forum,” said the Ministry of Justice in a statement.

The World Bank’s report said the recent reforms showed “a forward path to creating more jobs for Saudi youth and women, and creating sustainable, inclusive growth.” In Saudi Arabia, it now costs only 5.4 percent of income per capita to start a business — a figure a third that of the regional average of 16.7 percent. Also, owing to reforms in protections for minority investors, Saudi Arabia now ranks third globally in this metric, performing on a par with New Zealand and Singapore, which the World Bank considers the two easiest places in the world to do business.

Registering new properties in Saudi Arabia has also become easier. The country is now ranked 19 by the World Bank in this area. The Ministry of Justice recently developed an electronic platform for complaint arbitration for property stakeholders, and implemented an initiative to digitize title deeds. And thanks to other reforms, it now takes just 36 hours to register property transfers in Saudi Arabia, placing the country third in the world in this metric.

When dealing with construction permits, Saudi Arabia stands in 28 position. To build a warehouse, for example, businesses can use a new online platform to obtain the necessary permits, at a cost of just 1.9 percent of the building’s value — which is half the regional average of 4.4 percent.

WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index also witnessed marked improvements from Saudi Arabia. The index monitors institutions, policies and other factors that determine national productivity. As well as being ranked third in the world in technology governance, Saudi Arabia was praised by the WEF for “making strides to diversify” its economy.

“We are happy to see that the reforms taking place in the legal sector are reflected in those global reports,” said the ministry.

“We hope that with our continuous efforts and upcoming plans, we will see more achievements and more global recognition.”