Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry Mandating Arabic POS and Recipts

In a move that is probably going to cost Saudi Business millions of Riyals/Dollars, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry is mandating businesses to use Arabic on receipts, price labels and special offers. Inspections apparently start next week on the first day of the Muslim new year.

I lived in Saudi for 18 years and have visited ever so often over the past 14 years, almost all point of sale and marketing materials are in English over there presumably because the tills and price tag printers are mostly imported from the US or Europe.

It’s fair enough to insist that the major super markets start to phase in Arabic Cash desks that can print receipts, but in a time where everyone is struggling to make ends meet to mandate that every small business needs to essentially replace their point of sale equipment, seems a little silly.

The reasoning behind this is apparently pride in the Arabic language, it being the language of the Quaran, I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

All I have to go by is the above poster, I’ve done a quick check of the ministry’s website (Both Arabic and English) but I can’t find any reference to this.

If anyone can provide more detail I’d be interested in hearing about it in the comments…

Saudi Arabia Bans Blogging Without a Licence

Words cannot begin to describe my disgust at this, Saudi Arabia has passes new “rules” which prohibit posting content online without a licence. I’ve not read the actual policy document, but my interpretation of the article is that this cover a wide range of sins from blogging to posting to forums and even posting to sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

In order to obtain this licence, which is valid for three years, you must be a Saudi who is at least 20 years old and be a high school graduate. You also need to provide documents that “Testify to your good behaviour”. What a crock of shite! No one under 20 can have a Facebook profile? That defeats the purpose of Facebook…

I need to get a hold of the actual document because I might be breaking Saudi law right now, I am an unlicensed Saudi blogger and I am writing a blog post about how I dislike this law, heavens! Although I doubt they can enforce it outside the kingdom… ( I hope…)

There are apparently people speaking both for these new regulations and against them:

From Arabic Network For Human Rights Information:

“It is not a regulation to regulate the activities of electronic publishing as they claim, but rather a set of measures to seize freedom of publication on the Internet,”

“Authorities will not be able to stop expression, the snowball has started to roll and no one can stop it. The siege imposed by the Saudi government on citizens will not succeed in killing ideas, opinions or stopping information and news from flowing.”

From Asharq Alawsat (Tariq Alhomayed, editor in chief):

“What the Minister did was right, for who said that freedom comes without responsibility? Don’t they say that the field of publishing is a door wide open?”

“Whoever wants to write, be published, and criticize others, must do so with credibility, and a firm stance, rather than hiding behind a computer screen in order to defame someone, spread ugly rumors, or promote social division under a false name and then they have the audacity to say: let me exercise my freedom!”

Saudi Arabia apparently has one of the highest number of bloggers in the  Arabic world, Facebook use is rife across all ages and Twitter usage in Saudi has apparently sky-rocketed in 2010, so this is the perfect time to instate these new laws just as the country is starting to see reform they try an knock out the instrument of that reform.

I’m not a political blogger, I never thought I would be but this is almost enough to make me one… This just makes me angry and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Not that I am threatening to do anything aside from continue blogging.

The question is when I next go home to visit my family, do I maintain radio silence? Do I bite the bullet and get myself licensed? Or do I become an outlaw and become a rogue unlicensed blogger? I might get a mask… And a cape…

Via Firetown


International Freedom of Expression Exchange

I wish they would do this in the UK

Flying through Saudi Arabia? I know it’s unlikely for most people who read this but if you are you’ll be praying for your flight to be delayed.

A new byelaw issues by the Saudi civil aviation authority states that passengers will get compensation of  SR300 (£50/$80) an hour if their flight is delayed, up to SR3,000 (£500/$800) a day. That’s more than I get paid to work…

That’s pretty cool.

Arab News.

It started with the Desert…

I’ve seen this video and had to suffer it now you too must… Apparently in 1992 a Pakistani band were commissioned to write a song for Saudi Arabia’s national day (The 23rd of September). This abomination of a video is apparently the only surviving recording of it… It’s been put on youtube and it looks like it was captured of a seriously screwed video tape.

The Logo in the top left corner is the logo of the state run English television station “Saudi 2”, often referred to as Ghaseb Ithneen, which translates roughly to Forced Two, because it’s the only TV channel you can receive anywhere in the country, this is less the case nowadays due to the wide spread adoption of satellite TV.

Satellite TV is quite controversial in Saudi as there is no control over what is on it, and it’s seen by some to be a corrupting influence on the people. Every now and then some religious leader will put out a fatwa stating that they are an abomination and some crazy people in rural areas will go out and shoot people satellite dishes with shotguns. This doesn’t happen in more westernized areas, my dad for instance has 4 dishes up on the roof…

The lyrics are apparently:

Started with the desert (x2)

Came from the desert (x2)

Came in September (x4)

Life was so difficult nothing in the desert, suddenly with the help of God lfie became much better, proudly attracted by wisdom of the founder (x4)

History to remember desert life was harder, King Saud, Faisal, Khalid and Fahad, together stronger they are the maker (x4)

Make with the desert (x2)

Rise in the desert. divided in th desert, start in September (x4)

Life began in desert (x8)

King Abdul-Aziz (x4)

“Hey this is the song Saudi Arabia, sing the song with us, HEEEYYY OYEE!!!”, Malik Fahad Bin Abdul-Aziz Al- Sauuuddddd, day by day they build up (x2)

Time to time they prosper (x2)

Resided together (x4)

No office were in desert no park were in desert no roads were in desert no cars were in desert (x2)

The flower the water the park in the desert (x4)

Students were zero now they are the million hospitals were zero now they are the hundred (x2)

Pleasure and prosper with guidance of the leader (x2)

King Fahad King Fahad the leader of the nation (x2)

Oil reserve are here (x2)

Gold reserve are here (x2)

LOVE Saudi Arab (x4)

King Fahad is the thinker (x4)

King Fahad is the leader (x4)

We LOVE King Fahad (x4)

Riots in the streets of Khobar

UPDATE: (25/09/2009) Saudi media has picked up on this There is an article in the Al-Youm (Today) newspaper.

Last night (23rd of Sept. 2009) marked Saudi Arabia’s national day, and as a Saudi I am absolutely disgusted by what has happened in Khobar, my home town. I wasn’t there, I’m safe and sound on another continent, but thanks to the internet I’ve seen videos of riots on the corniche where hundreds of youths just smashed the place up.

As of this writing there is zero news coverage of this, I only found out about it because I saw some pictures on facebook which were posted by some friends of mine who live there. The people of Khobar are disgusted and embarressed by this behaviour.

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The people of Khobar are some of the most westernised people in the Kindgom, mainly due the the heavy influence of Saudi Aramco the countries largest oil company which used to hire a great number of Americans, and from what I understand most of the people involved in the riots are from other parts of the country, but who’s to tell.
Regardless It’s still disgusting, I’ve seen Photos and videos of people just smashing shit up!

People opening Fire in the middle of the Road:

Another video of people smashing up a starbucks:

According to the local authorities (Police, National Defence and SWAT teams by my translation) were involved in a number of skirmishes with the rioters in teh city center, which led to the rioters fleeing and congregating on the corniche. The rioters were assaulting the emergency services by throwing stones at them, and attacking them, gun shots were also apparently heard within the crowds.
This lead to a large part of the eastern part of the city beign closed off by the emergency services.
By the descriptions I’ve heard of what was happening it looked like a civil war was breaking out in khobar. The rioters were rampaging about the town smashing things up and assualting people in restaurants and coffee shops, apparently both physically and sexually.

Don’t confuse these riots with the ones in Iran, these people are uncivilized savages who’ve just gone a rampage, I very much doubt that they have an agenda, other than enjoying themselves at the expense of others.

This year Saudi’s national day comes shortly after the Eid Il Fitr a three day festival marking the end of a month of fasting during Ramadan, lots of people visit the eastern province, where Khobar is, during the eid holiday either to visit family or to go shopping in the many shopping malls in the area. I think spirits may have been high witht he two coinciding but it really doesn’t excuse this.

I’ve posted a whole bunch of photos of the aftermath… Continue reading “Riots in the streets of Khobar”