Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Gali Hagel

First Page



There is no Saudi legal code. Although the literature on the Islamic faith is extensive, the only Saudi laws available in the English language are the corporate, tax, and labor regulations. This Note brings together the applicable principles and laws to provide a broad overview of the Saudi legal system: it discusses the way in which Islamic law has evolved in Saudi Arabia, analyzes the major Saudi corporate regulations, and, as an introductory research tool, directs the practitioner to more detailed resources. This Note also gives practical advice to attorneys representing clients doing business in Saudi Arabia, adding needed dimension to the literature in the field.

Four themes will be emphasized in this Note. First, there is little, if any, distinction between law and religion in Islam. Second, the Saudis (and all Muslims) have extensively incorporated Islam into their legal and regulatory structure as well as into their daily lives. Third, the Western attorney should not underestimate the active role which tradition, custom, and the Arab viewpoint play in the Saudis' daily business practices, because even an unintended social faux pas can upset a sensitive business negotiation. Last, the practical adaptation of certain restrictive, traditional Islamic teachings to conform to the requirements of modern commercial society ensures Saudi Arabia's continued participation in the international economic community.