Several GCC countries recently published new laws to protect whistleblowers, which may change the private sector's general attitude towards whistleblowing. Find out how important these changes are and what this means for employers in the Middle East in our latest podcast.

The concept of "whistleblowing", in which an individual makes a disclosure regarding the wrongdoing of a company (or individuals within it), has been embedded in several jurisdictions for a number of years.

In the GCC, a whistleblower is usually directed to report the matter to the police (as most jurisdictions have an obligation to report a crime, or the belief of a crime, to the police) and making an allegation to someone other than the police can lead to action against the whistleblower. For example, publicly making an allegation against someone which could leave that person liable to punishment, public hatred or contempt, can itself be a crime of defamation.

In addition, in proving the wrongdoing, the whistleblower may disclose confidential information (which can be a criminal offence) or seek to record or transmit a conversation without the knowledge of the other party (which can also be a criminal offence).

However, recent laws and circulars published in the UAE, KSA and Qatar indicate that this approach is changing, and individuals are being encouraged to whistleblow to the appropriate authorities on financial impropriety or corrupt practices.

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