Legal developments

Government's payments of the remaining dues to the private sector

As a result of the crash in oil prices in mid-2014, the Saudi government was forced to cancel projects and delay payments to some of the private sector companies, which forced some of these companies to lay off staff and reduce or completely cease operations. However, the government has been working to pay all outstanding amounts to the private sector companies, and authorities have announced that all dues have been paid up until the beginning of December 2016. Remaining documents, which were submitted during the last three weeks, will be paid within the next two months.

Arab News – 22 December 2016

Increased expat fees and new expat dependants' fees

Companies in Saudi Arabia are currently required to pay a monthly fee of SAR 200 for each expat employee above the number of Saudis employed. If the number of Saudi employees in a company is greater than or equal to the number of expat employees, then no expat fee is payable. Now, this monthly fee will be gradually increased, and a discounted fee will apply to those expat employees who do not exceed the number of Saudis employed.

In addition, beginning in July 2017, fees will be assessed for dependants accompanying expat employees in Saudi Arabia. Sources confirm that the dependants' fees will be calculated on a monthly basis, but will be paid on an annual basis in advance at the time the expat employee’s residence permit (iqama) is issued or renewed.

The following chart briefly shows the gradual increase in expats and their dependants' fees over the next four years:

Year Fees for expats outnumbering Saudis (SAR/per month/per employee) Fees for expats who are in equal number to Saudis (SAR/per month/per employee) Dependants' fees (SAR/per month/per dependant)
2017 200 Discount 100
2018 400 300 200
2019 600 500 300
2020 800 700 400

Saudi Gazette – 26 December 2016; 9 January 2017

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) reported a decline in the percentage of settlement of legal cases during the past two years. The number of cases settled in 2014 reached 192,403; however, in 2016, it reached only 141,025. Further, the number of cases settled in the penal courts reached 91.5 per cent in 2014 and decreased to 69.2 per cent in 2016. In the personal status courts it reached 95.7 per cent in 2014 and decreased to 87.1 per cent in 2016.

Saudi Gazette – 27 December 2016

With a view to promoting sports in Saudi Arabia, the Council of Ministers approved the organisational procedures for the General Authority of Sports to encourage Saudi society to practise and participate in many sports events. The newly approved procedures aim to organise and develop the sports sector.

Saudi Gazette – 3 January 2017

The Council of Ministers has approved the appointment of the board of the General Entertainment Authority (Board). It is now formally in place and the next step is to move ahead with strategies that will help improve entertainment in all of its forms in Saudi Arabia, while still maintaining the Saudi culture and heritage. The Board consists of nine members, including the chairman, and the meetings will be held quarterly.

Arab News – 1 January 2017

Capital Market Developments

Electronic system for public companies' general assembly meetings

The Capital Market Authority (CMA) has launched its electronic system to assist listed companies in requesting the CMA's approval on holding the shareholders' general assembly meeting and the agenda. The system shows listed companies the procedures for applying, the mechanism for how to apply, the information needed, the date and time specification, how to log the meeting items and upload documents, as well as the provisions that listed companies should consider when applying.

Saudi Gazette – 22 December 2016

After a period of public consultation, the CMA has approved the Parallel Market Listing Rules (Rules), which will enter into force when published in the Saudi Official Gazette, Um Al-Qura.

In general, the Rules establish a parallel market in Saudi Arabia for trading of shares amongst "Qualified Investors" only, not including the general public. Issuers with shares on the parallel market must already have a minimum number of public shareholders.