The Saudi Council of Ministers, chaired by Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz, deputy premier and minister of defense, approved a new law on antiquities, museums and urban heritage. ('Saudi Arabia approves law to protect national antiquities', Saudi Gazette, Tuesday, 24 June 2014). This gives the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) jurisdiction over deciding what will be recorded as archaeological monuments and heritage.
The commission will register antiquities and heritage sites and items after the state approved their national, historical, cultural or artistic importance, as well as the need to preserve, maintain and showcase them. According to the law, all movable and immovable antiquities in the Kingdom or within its sovereign marine areas or legal jurisdiction will be the state’s property. However, there will be an exemption for immovable antiquities of private owners, movable antiquities registered with SCTA by their owners, and those antiquities that the SCTA decides not to register. The regulations state that anyone having a movable antique should submit it to the SCTA for registration within two years from the day when this law comes into force. Dr. Khoja said those who violate the provisions of the law by encroaching on a heritage site, or carrying out surveys or excavation for antiquities without license will be given jail terms ranging from one month to one year, or a fine of not less than SR10,000 and not more than SR100,000 or of both.