Burhan Almarifa is a platform for information and knowledge transfer. Could you tell us more about the organization?
Burhan Almarifa was established in 2014 with a vision to elevate the legal profession in the Kingdom. Initially, as with all passion projects, there was a specific project in mind. Naturally, as we gained experience and insight into the sector, we started to understand that the needs of the legal sector are far bigger than what the original project was. Burhan Almarifa has two business pillars: transfer of knowledge and consultancy, the purpose of which is to develop initiatives and programs that will support and advance legal professionals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This will eventually promote specializations and expertise within the legal sector, whether in business law, intellectual property law, international humanitarian law, healthcare law, or environmental law, to name a few. One such initiative is SLC, which was inaugurated last year. We are also developing different training programs, publications, and digitalization projects for both the private and public sectors to promote cross-sector collaboration. This eventually extended to developing consultancy services that range from benchmarking and advising on regulations drafting to global strategic positioning of different initiatives. In order to fulfill our mission, we started establishing the Burhan Network, which forms working partnerships with companies that are leaders in their fields both internationally and locally.
What do you envision for SLC in the next 10 years?
SLC positions itself as a platform for the transfer of knowledge from worldwide and national experts to our community on the key topics of the moment. The more important aspect of SLC, however, is the discussions that take place during the conference and recommendations that stem from those discussions. This is the first professional platform in the Kingdom that brings together policymakers, judges, lawyers, the private sector, and students to debate and discuss matters pertaining to their profession. In 10 years, I hope SLC is viewed internationally as the platform to gain knowledge on the legal trends of the year, that those discussions are led by Saudi experts, and that the recommendations SLC generates are substantive, practical, and effective to help develop the rule of law and truly elevate the legal profession, both nationally and internationally.
Why are IP and fintech the themes of SLC 2019?
The overarching theme of SLC is “Reinforcing a sustainable and inclusive business environment." With Saudi Arabia being party to a large number of IP international agreements and conventions, its obligations as a WTO member, the massive boom in new businesses and the influx of foreign investment into the Kingdom, protection of IP rights is a major topic of concern. Fintech, on the other hand, is a highly specialized, yet massively used, sector that is developing far quicker than the regulations that would regulate it, not just in the Kingdom, but internationally. Fintech is thought of as an independent sector, when in practice it touches upon almost every other sector. It is important to understand the issues that surround regulating this field, as we need to find the fine balance between too much regulation that may hinder future development and enough regulation to protect the consumer, whether individual, entity, or state.
When you say Burhan Almarifa's vision is “to elevate the legal profession," what do you mean by that?
Worldwide, every sector is unique, and every market is unique. The Kingdom is no different. We are, however, distinctive in the rate of which the number of lawyers is growing. This gives us a competitive advantage in the sense that we have a relatively large young working force that is technologically savvy and has the potential to be leaders and experts in their respective fields. At Burhan Almarifa, we strongly advocate specializing within the field. We believe that transferring international expertise to our legal practitioners will ensure the effectiveness, efficiency, stability and development of the legal sector in the long run.