The new Publications and Publishing
Law, recently ratified by the Saudi cabinet, allows government bodies,
educational institutions, research establishments, scientific
societies, literary clubs and national organizations to issue
non-periodical publications in their own sphere of specialization and
under their own responsibility.
The law also permits the publishing
of newspapers outside the extent of the national establishments, on
license from the Ministry of Information, based on an approval of the
chairman of the cabinet.
The stamp of the Ministry of
Information is enough to issue bulletins of limited circulation and
for non-sale purposes that serve the activity of the publisher
including scientific and specialized vocational magazines, the law
The article on this issue emphasized
that the supervisor of any of such publications and its director were
responsible of its contents.
The 49-article law which was endorsed
by the Saudi Council of Ministers on the 27th of November 2000,
stipulated that any publication being granted license in the Kingdom
should not contradict the Sharia law or undermine the stability or
security of the country; should not serve foreign interests at the
expense of the national interest of the Kingdom; should not provoke
discord among citizens or defames individuals; should not curb
personal freedom or defame any individualís commercial status;
should not encourage criminal activity or instigate or any practices
detrimental to the health of individuals or the economy.
Any publication should take care not
to divulge the findings of investigations or the courts without the
permission of the authority concerned and should confine itself to
objective and constructive criticism, based on firm evidence, with the
aim of realizing and preserving the public interest.
The law also confirms that the call
to Islam and the spread of culture and science are among the
objectives of publications and publishing.
Foreign newspapers could be published
in the Kingdom, according to the new law, in compliance to the
Executive Regulations of this law. The law says foreign publications
imported in the Kingdom will not be censored if they are free from
material which defames Islam or harms the state's supreme interest or
is considered contrary to ethics of the people.
The freedom of opinion is secured by
the law in all publishing means within the legislative and legal rules
of the country, the law says.
The law also identifies the
activities that are subject to its regulations. They are the
publications, pre-publishing services, printing press houses,
libraries, drawing, calligraphy, photography, importation, sale or
lease of films, video tapes, audio records, disks, broadcasting, TV,
cinema or theatrical production, TV and broadcasting studios, foreign
media offices and their correspondents, propaganda and advertising,
public relations, publishing and distribution, journalistic services,
computer program production, sale or lease, studies, media
consultancy, copying and any other activity to be annexed by the
Ministry of Information and approved by the cabinet.
The law permits governmental
organizations, educational establishments, literary and cultural clubs
and journalistic establishments to import what they need for
publication purposes. The Executive Regulation will organize the
importation of foreign publications and their distribution as well as
the necessary procedure to facilitate the carrying of books and other
publications inside the Kingdom or subscription to them by researchers
and others for professional purposes.
Except in an emergency, the local
press will not be subject to censorship.
In approving scientific and
intellectual works which are beyond the scope of its own personnel,
the Ministry of Information is permitted to seek the assistance of
whomsoever is academically and professionally qualified. The Ministry
is also assigned by the law to draft, in collaboration with relevant
authorities, the regulations for holding book exhibitions by the
non-governmental publishing and distribution organizations.