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New heritage firm to promote tourism

Criminal courts to deal with drug, alcohol smuggling cases

Last updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:56 PM


RIYADH — The Council of Ministers decided Monday to have government stake in a joint stock holding company that will be created to develop state-owned heritage buildings as well as to make investments in them.

The session, chaired by Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, also entrusted the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) to file drug and alcohol smuggling cases, which come under the Unified Customs Law (UCL) of Gulf Cooperation Council states, at local criminal courts.

Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja said in a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session that the Cabinet approved in principle the request of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) for the entry of the state, represented by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), as a partner in the new venture, which is aimed at boosting the heritage hospitality sector.

The Cabinet endorsed the guidelines to be followed in this regard. According to the guidelines, the percentage of the state’s contribution shall be decided after determining the contribution rates of other stakeholders. Also, the new company shall prepare separate feasibility studies for each heritage project. Participation of local investors shall be taken into account in every project that is found useful, and finally, development of heritage hotels shall be aimed at encouraging domestic tourism and attracting citizens to visit these sites.

Dr. Khoja said that the Cabinet reviewed a report of the Minister of Finance with regard to those drug and alcohol smuggling cases in which final judicial sentences are normally issued by Shariah courts, and the question of the legality of their examination for a second time by the customs committees. After considering two resolutions of the Shoura Council in this respect, the Cabinet approved that a criminal court shall carry out the penalties prescribed in UCL of Gulf states concerning cases related to smuggling of drugs and alcohol. The Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution shall take charge of filing cases before criminal courts in such cases, and UCL and its by-laws shall be taken into account in dealing with public criminal petitions.

The Cabinet reviewed the recently concluded Cairo Islamic summit and voiced the Kingdom’s hope that its outcome would help realize the aspirations of the Islamic Ummah and strengthen joint Islamic work. It commended the valuable implications of the speech of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah at the summit and praised the efforts of Egypt, led by President Mohamed Morsi, to make the summit a success. The Cabinet noted that the summit covered all major issues facing the Muslim world with due prominence to their political, economic and humanitarian dimensions.

Dr. Khoja said that the Cabinet also reviewed the outcome of the 3rd ministerial meeting on United Nations Security Council reform, held in Italy under the title of “New approaches to reforming the Security Council.” The Council emphasized the significance of the road map for the Security Council reforms presented by the Kingdom at the conference, and that relies on six fundamental principles, including transparency and a clear vision while addressing the reform issue.

The Cabinet approved the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz Public Library and the University of Beijing to establish a branch of the library at the university. It also endorsed a cooperation agreement between King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology and the National Space Agency of Kazakhstan in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. — SG

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