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Episode description:

In this episode of Law, disrupted, John is joined by Nasser Alrubayyi. Nasser is a partner at Quinn Emanuel.  He represents and defends international and domestic corporations in a wide assortment of litigation and arbitration cases. Together they discuss the modernization of law, the legal profession, legal process, and judiciary in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and how that relates to promoting foreign investment, including in the mining industry, tech, and life sciences.

John and Nasser discuss how Saudi Arabia is currently the fastest-growing economy in the G20, which has led to significant investments in the sectors of the future such as biotech, and education logistics, in addition to oil and gas investment. They note that this growth depends upon a robust legal system that investors have started to have confidence in.  Nasser explains that the legal system is not based upon either common law nor civil law; rather, it is a hybrid, drawing on traits of both. Saudi Arabia has a written constitution, drawing on Sharia sources denoted from Islam, as well as different laws issued by government bodies relating to particular issues.

Nasser then explains Sharia law, more specifically, its two primary sources, the holy Qu’ran and Sunnah, referring to the sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad PBUH. In addition, there are other sources, such as the consensus of the companions of Sharia scholars. He describes the laws pertaining to procedural matters, such as Saudi companies’ law and legislation that discusses substantial issues like personal status laws. Together John and Nasser discuss the procedure behind a significant new law being enacted, walking through the process step-by-step from start to finish, including the role of the Council of Ministers.

John then steers the conversation toward understanding the recent developments that have taken place in the Kingdom to attract greater foreign investment. Nasser describes how Saudi Vision 2030 is a key driving force in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s push to make it a more friendly destination for foreign investment.  He notes that since the approval of Vision 2030, many laws have been amended, and new laws have been enacted to make the Saudi Arabian market more attractive to foreign investors. 

John and Nasser discuss the enactment of the new mining and investment law as an example of one such law. The law aims to accelerate foreign investment in the mining sector by adopting international best practices, including reducing administrative discretion, bureaucracy, and obstacles to obtaining required licenses. The law also establishes clear timelines for the Saudi entities to respond to requests from investors, as well as an online system that enables investors to track their license applications and know where in the process they are. Nasser notes that while great strides have been made, more work is needed to promote the Kingdom. John and Nasser discuss the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Saudi Arabia, an excellent example of how the Kingdom seeks to play a crucial role in the global economy.

The discussion then turns to understanding the Saudi judiciary and the importance of a fair, just, and practical system. Nasser explains the Saudi court system and how proceedings have been made more effective through the use of digital communications.  He notes that the majority of cases are now heard and accessed remotely, online. John and Nasser also discuss the path to becoming a judge in Saudi’s judiciary system and recent investments to provide judges additional training as well as more assistants to help them prepare cases for hearings.

Finally, John and Nasser examine the business of law, noting the number of international firms with offices in Riyadh and the change in the law that has allowed them to open offices in Saudi Arabia. John asks Nasser what impact international firms will have on the Saudi legal service market.  Nasser explains that he expects that international firms will be important players in the market, both in transactional work and also on the dispute side.

Published: Nov 18 2022

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