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

Also:

International Freedom of Expression Exchange