Stovall, Howard, MEED Middle East Economic Digest
As Middle East countries become more integrated into the world economy, they are adapting their laws to be more compatible with the demands of globalisation. Despite progress, the pressures are mounting and further sweeping changes can be expected. Howard Stovall looks at the context and outlines the challenges that lie ahead
Abdel-Razzaq al-Sanhouri had reason to be pleased. He had just travelled to The Hague, to participate in what was billed as the First International Conference for Comparative Law. After deliberations, those comparative lawyers decided to give greater attention to Islamic law in their future comparative studies. Two broad themes seem reflected in that decision and, perhaps more importantly, in Al-Sanhouri's own philosophy: revitalisation of Islamic law, and globalisation of our societies.
Those two themes are constant features of the Arab legal landscape today, which is remarkable given that Al-Sanhouri's trip to The Hague occurred almost 70 years ago, in 1932. In retrospect, that conference was a defining moment for Western awareness of law in the Arab world. As international trade has expanded in recent decades, the twin themes of revitalisation and globalisation have become even more relevant in assessing Arab commercial law.
Revitalisation of Islamic law
As a species, lawyers are not considered dynamic public speakers, but experience suggests that the number of glazed eyes and drooping heads at a business conference increases geometrically when a speech turns to matters of Islamic law. There seems to be a myth that Islamic law just doesn't apply to modern commercial transactions, often accompanied by a grudging recognition that payment of interest runs foul of some relatively obscure Islamic rule. Although lawyers may not always be inspiring speakers, the fact remains that Islamic law is relevant to modem-day business throughout the Arab Middle East, and its importance is increasing.
Marriage of laws
In some countries, Islamic law principles dominate a country's legal system, as is the case in Saudi Arabia, the region's commercial powerhouse. There is no Saudi Arabian "law" other than Islamic law; supplemental Saudi laws are …
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Publication information: Article title: Doubts Persist. Contributors: Stovall, Howard - Author. Magazine title: MEED Middle East Economic Digest. Volume: 44. Issue: 13 Publication date: March 31, 2000. Page number: 31. © 1999 MEED Middle East Economic Digest. All Rights Reserved. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
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