Saudi Arabia sets strict penalties for violators of Antiquities and Museums Law

The Antiquities, Museums and Architectural Heritage Law, approved by the Council of Ministers recently; set severe penalties for violators of the regulation with penalties; reaching up to three years imprisonment and fines of up to SR300,000.

The regulation punishes anyone who unlawfully seizes an antiquity; owned by the state with imprisonment for a period of at least 6 months and not exceeding 7 years. Besides, a fine of at least SR50,000 and not exceeding SR500,000, or one of these two penalties.

Likewise, anyone who encroaches on an antiquity, an archaeological site, or an urban heritage site; by destroying, altering, removing, exhuming, damaging, changing its features; or obliterating it, shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of no less than three months and not exceeding three years and a fine of at least SR20,000 and not exceeding SR300,000, or one of these two penalties.

Counterfeit penalties

The regulation also imposed the penalties for these violations for anyone; who creates a duplicate of an antiquity or creates a counterfeit one and claims it to be an original antiquity; or performs any of the total or partial demolitions within the boundaries of antiquities and urban heritage sites, or builds on them; without obtaining approval of the Ministry of Culture; or violating the terms of easement as well as their rights imposed on lands adjacent to antiquities’ sites; with imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years and a fine not exceeding SR200,000.

The regulation also affirmed that anyone who changes a building or an urban heritage site, or conducts in the surrounding environment an encroachment that leads to damage to it without obtaining the approval of the Ministry of Culture, or transfers rubble, stones or soil from archeology and urban heritage sites, without the ministry’s consent, or dumps rubble or remnants into archeology and urban heritage sites, or distorts an antiquity or urban heritage by writing, painting, engraving, or posting advertisements on it, or by setting them on fire shall also be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding SR100,000.

As to those who own antiquities, the regulation affirmed that whoever did not submit to the ministry a statement on the antiquities he owned; possessed an original unregistered antique, or possessed an antiquity that does not prove the legitimacy of its ownership; sold, rented or transferred ownership of a fixed antique; or engaged in a restoration activity; antiquities transported for commercial purposes; or without obtaining a license from the ministry, shall be also punished with a fine not exceeding SR50,000.