Jeddah A, Asharq Awsat- A billboard ad for a Pop concert featuring contemporary Arabic artists, is in the center of a legal dispute between an advertising agency and the Saudi Ministry of Information.
The Advertising agency had put up a large billboard prompting a concert featuring Arabic singers Mohammed Abdo and Ahlam, close to a commercial center in Jeddah’s Al Tahlia Road, an area renowned for its shopping outlets and numerous adverts featuring the latest fashions trends.
Abdul Rahman Al Hamad, the director of the advertising agency, stated that he had received an official notification from the internal media department in the Jeddah branch of the Ministry of Information and Culture. The notice stated that the advertising agency had violated regulations and that the advert must be removed because “it is advertising for a concert and features a large picture of the singer Mohamed Abdo playing on his lute.” He added that the notice from the ministry would entail an inquiry into “our violation.” He asserted that, “We had questioned our representative from the ministry and investigations are still continuing.”
Al Hamad stated that he is shocked at the accusation waged against his agency considering the number of similar adverts all over Al Tahlia road, which market various entertainment events as part of the annual Jeddah summer festival. He said, “We were informed that a complaint was filed against our agency by one of the governmental authorities that denounced placing a picture of a singer in one of the streets of Jeddah. At the same time, they completely disregarded the other pictures of celebrities that are deployed in other streets and shops.” He added, “Mohammed Abdo is not only a singer or celebrity but is rather the nation’s singer, who inspires our sense of belonging to our country with his patriotic songs.”
On the other hand, Said Salah Al Ghamdi, the director of the internal media department in the Jeddah branch of the ministry of information and culture in Jeddah, stated that the set regulations by the ministry enable them to carry out investigations into any violations. He said, “The advertisement violated article 75 for publications and printing which prohibits the deployment of any advertisements for satellite channels, their programs or means of subscription.”
Concerning this case Al Ghamdi stated, “We do not consider it an investigation, but rather a report on the breach of article 75 of the Saudi publications and printing regulations.”
Al Ghamdi had clarified that discussions with the directors of the concerned advertising agency “have not finished and we still require some documents from the company officials to resolve the issue.” He also asserted, “it is still undecided whether the issue will be taken to the ministry in Riyadh or not.”
Asked about any complaints made against the advertisement, Al Ghamdi said, “I have no sufficient information in this respect. I would like to affirm however that the complaint filed against the advertising company was not made by the ministry. It was rather issued at the request of the governor of Jeddah who called for an investigation into the violation. Our investigation is based on the breach of regulations that prohibit such advertisements.”
Asked about similar adverts that promote subscription to satellite channels, Al Ghamdi argued, “Such adverts that breach publishing and printing laws do exist in Saudi Arabia, however these violations are not permitted by the current Saudi publications and printing regulations.” He noted that the internal media department “cannot be aware of every single violation.”