Saudi Arabia Releases 9 New Environmental Laws

Jan 26th, 2013 | By | Category: Environmental Management

This article summarizes 9 new environmental laws issued by Saudi Arabia in 2012 and provides links to the legislation in English.



Saudi Arabia has acted with urgency to develop a comprehensive framework for measuring and monitoring activities that cause environmental degradation. Its actions include measures to ensure efficient use of natural resources, prevention of depletion, and implementation of sustainable development. Saudi Arabia has adopted a comprehensive list of Standards and Guidelines.  It regulated matters ranging from air pollution, to wastewater management, to transportation of chemicals; sustainability was an important principle incorporated in these measures.

Significant new environmental laws in Saudi Arabia are summarized below.



Ambient Air Standard 2012

Ambient Air Standard 2012 was published and made mandatory on March 24, 2012. The Standard relates specifically to the ambient air quality in Saudi Arabia. The Standard prescribes limit values for ambient air quality parameters and establishes the responsibilities of the Presidency of Metrology and Environment (PME) with regard to managing ambient air quality in the kingdom. The Standard aims to provide a basis for the maintenance and restoration of ambient air quality in an effort to prevent or reduce harmful effects on human health and the environment. It introduces new limits for companies that are required to manage their emissions. However, if the company performs one of the exempted activities, the limits stated by this Standard would not apply. The Standard exempts from limitations dispersion zones (which are authorized by the PME), indoor air, and natural events.  A different Standard on air adopted on the same day and made mandatory for all new equipment relates to the control of emissions from mobile sources.


Standard on Emissions from Mobile Sources 2012

The Standard on Mobile Sources Emissions requires companies to reduce their emissions to the levels required and to properly maintain their equipment to ensure emissions reduction. The Standard presents a framework for a sustainable management of mobile sources.  It sets out emission limit values depending upon the engine type and capacity. Companies are required to ensure that the emissions of their mobile sources are in compliance with the emission limits for all new equipment. However, for existing equipment they have five years to bring their emissions in line with the limits stated. The Standard introduces emission limits for pieces of equipment used outdoors and aims at protecting, maintaining, and improving the environment and public health. The mobile sources include those such as mobile generators, agricultural machinery, and large earthmoving equipment. The emission limits include those for diesel engines, small and large gasoline engines, and recreational vehicles not included in Saudi Arabia Standard Organization (SASO) Standards.


General Environmental Standard for Noise 2012

The General Environmental Standard for Noise of 2012, which introduced noise emission limits, was made mandatory on March 24, 2012. The Standard regulates community noise, noise from industrial units in areas set aside primarily for industrial facilities, noise from construction activities, noise from vehicles (including motorized vessels and recreational craft), and noise from equipment used outdoors. The Standard issued by the PME provides a basis for statutory control to restrict and reduce the nuisance caused by environmental noise. It must be noted that the Standard does not address the issue of occupational noise, which is regulated by the National Health and Safety Laws. Furthermore, the Standard does not extend to noise related to public transportation, including noise from highways and railways, and noise from commercial and private aircraft, including helicopters, both in flight and operating on the ground, as well as to some other activities that are exempt, including calls for prayer and sports events.



National Ambient Water Quality Standard of 2012

The Standard sets forth a framework for the sustainable management of ambient water quality by protecting the water supply and the natural aquatic environment.  It provides, additionally, a   basis for the restoration of water used for recreational, agricultural, industrial, potable, and ecological purposes. This Standard applies to all coastal and underground water and includes any surface freshwater that may be present permanently or temporarily. On March 24, 2012, the National Ambient Water Quality Standard for Saudi Arabia adopted by the Presidency of Metrology and Environment became effective.  The ambient water covered by the Standard includes coastal and underground water and any surface freshwater that may be present permanently or temporarily. 


Wastewater Discharge Standard of 2012

Companies and persons discharging wastewater are now subject to the Wastewater Discharge Standard as of March 24, 2012. The Standard aims at enabling Saudi Arabia to reach its ambient water quality objectives. The Standard sets out use-related criteria and specific limits on individual discharges designed to protect water quality. Liquid waste generators are required to comply with the emissions limits, permit requirements, as well as any reuse or conservation requirements. Notably, if a facility cannot restrict its emissions to the limits stated in the Standard, it is required to obtain a permit by June 24, 2012. The Wastewater Discharge Standard applies to liquid emissions generated by persons or facilities. It is intended to improve wastewater management in Saudi Arabia without increasing the financial burden on companies. 


Chemical  Management

Technical Guideline of 2012 on the Prevention of Major Accidents

In the case of activities involving the manufacturing, processing, using, storing, or otherwise handling of dangerous substances irrespective of their size or location, it is now required to take necessary actions to prevent major accidents, such as the release of toxic materials, the release of flammable materials, fires, explosions, major structural failures, and any accident that involves dangerous substances. The Standard is mandatory for all facilities storing or handling hazardous chemicals in excess of the threshold values. The Technical Guideline on the Prevention of Major Accidents intends to reduce and prevent accidents involving dangerous substances. The Guideline states that there are different categories of companies varying from lower tier to higher tier based on the threshold levels. The Standard entered into force on March 24, 2012.


Standard on Waste Transportation 2012

Hazardous, non-hazardous, and inert waste transporters must comply with the updated Framework for Waste Transportation in Saudi Arabia. The Standard on Waste Transportation adopted by the Presidency of Metrology and Environment intends to monitor and control waste movement to protect both human health and the environment, as well as to provide consistent standard requirements for hazardous substances regarding the classification and labeling of waste to facilitate the movement of waste and dangerous goods inside and outside the country. Companies are now required to comply with the labeling and classification requirements regarding the waste transported, necessary documentation for the waste transported, vehicle safety, and the drivers’ training and certification. The Standard‘s main purpose is to reduce road accidents involving waste transporters, to provide waste transporters with a consistent system regarding waste classification and waste labeling, to facilitate transboundary waste movement, as well as to simplify waste transportation processes to ensure easier compliance. 


Waste Treatment and Disposal

Environmental Standards on Material Recovery and Recycling of Waste 2012

Companies operating in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia might have to comply in the near future with the new waste disposal and treatment procedures. The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment has issued a guidance document which is intended to be the foundation for the development of best environmental practices in relation to waste recovery and recycling. Although the document does not have a direct impact on industries, since it is based on the internationally recognized waste management hierarchy including prevention, recycling, treatment, and disposal, it might serve as the basis for the adoption of future provisions impacting all industry sectors. The Environmental Standards on Material Recovery and Recycling of Waste became effective March 24, 2012.


Biological Treatment Standard of 2012

Biological treatment and incineration facilities must comply with a series of new requirements relating to the design, location, operation, and closure of such facilities. The Biological Treatment Standard provides requirements related to the treatment and disposal of biodegradable waste. The requirements apply to the pre-development of a new biological treatment facility that receives and handles biodegradable waste. However, operators of existing facilities must implement the requirements wherever and whenever that is feasible. The Standard on Biological Treatment sets forth the design parameters and operational requirements for biological treatment facilities in Saudi Arabia. The Standard applies to privately operated as well as publicly operated biological treatment facilities. The Standard does not apply, however, to domestic biological processes such as home composting initiatives undertaken by householders at their places of residence. 



Saudi Arabia is one of the leading countries in the Middle East region, and many developing countries are following in its steps. The fact that it has adopted this abundant number of regulations indicates that it is getting ready to take its environmental issues more seriously. Companies should be on the lookout for a more stringent enforcement system and, more importantly, use the guidance issued to prepare an internal policy that can be the basis for a compliance program to be ready by the time the mandatory requirements take effect.


About the Author

Sanaa Chakibi is a lead regulatory consultant in the Washington, D.C., U.S.A. office of Enhesa, Inc., where she specializes in the Middle East and North Africa regions. Ms. Chakibi monitors environmental, health, and safety regulatory developments throughout the Middle East and North Africa. She has written audit protocols for several countries in this area. She holds a Master’s degree from the George Washington Law School, a Bachelor in Private Law (Licence en Droit Prive) from the Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco, and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association.


Other EHS Journal Articles by Sanaa Chakibi

 Saudi Arabia: Ambient Water Quality Standards


Photograph: Jeddah Old Downtown by Asif Akbar, Hungary.

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13 Comments to “Saudi Arabia Releases 9 New Environmental Laws”

  1. Law says:

    […] (Company in KSA for recycling) · Environmental Law In Saudi) […]

  2. Faleh says:

    could you please provide me with AMBIENT AIR STANDARD of Saudi Arabia,
    unable to down load from PME site.


  3. Saudi government must introduce more people to use moped ,bike in place of using Car for going office in city area to reduce the pollution and heavy traffic

  4. Saudi government must introduce more people to use moped ,bike in place of using Car in city area to reduce the pollution

  5. Stefanos Manolis says:

    I am in the country since 4-10-2014 working in a constructing Co I may reassure you that some environmental issues are implemented whereas others are not. For example air pollution is one of the issues that needs special care and the risks for human health are huge. Saudi Arabia by its own produces dust due to its desert conditions. The Government has to be more strict in the implementation of relevant environmental rules and oblige all constructing companies to follow to issues like the distance between a site and a Camp or a crasher and a Camp. There could be also a kind of regulation for the circulation of so many cars in the big centers like Riyadh. For example one day the circulation might be for cars ending with odd number and the other day with even number and so forth.

    Kind Regards,
    Stefanos Manolis

  6. […] Saudi Arabia Releases 9 New Environmental Laws […]

  7. Arsahd Hussain Memon says:

    Excellent work done !

  8. Saqlain Haider says:

    Really the time has come to regulate our life style and fragile approach to restore and sustain the ecological environment from degradation for the betterment of ourselves and generation to come. In this direction all the countries making their laws and enforcing them. KSA government is also concern with the environment protection and made their laws easier and sufficient for the industries and all the concerned.

    King Regards,

    Saqlain Haider

  9. Hamed says:

    PME is doing the best of issuing and following up implementation of such important regulations to protect people and environment in Saudi Arabia.

  10. Mohamed Sarifdeen Rakeeb says:

    This is a good move taken by the Government of Saudi in relation with keeping the environment fresh for present and future generation. The waste management practices should commence from the school curriculum which will easily be adopted by children rather than adults. Further, when issuing license for companies, it is preferable to ask the owners to manage their waste on their own with complying with all environmental regulations set out by the government. Awareness on reuse, recycle and salvage of waste materials would reduce the usage of virgin materials used for productions which will serve the natural resources for the future generation..

  11. Helal ali says:

    this the best environmental laws in the middle east .

  12. Ronald S. says:

    Is there any specific law or requirement to deal with the carbon sludge generated in the process of re-refining of Used Engine Oils. This sludge is generated after the chemical pre-treatment of the Used Engine Oil to remove the carbon. Also, can you please let me know the method of disposal for such sludge and used bleaching clay.

    Kind regards,
    Ronald Sanfrancis

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