Saudi gets tough on images of women

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have launched a crackdown on advertising and editorial content that features women.

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By  Tim Addington Published  June 15, 2006

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have launched a crackdown on advertising and editorial content that features women. Campaign understands that a Ministry of Information circular was sent to advertising agencies and media owners in the Kingdom warning them that any breach of the guidelines will be strictly dealt with. Any pictures of women used in editorial material or magazines should not show more than the face, hands, neck and feet. They should also be respectful, according to the ministry. While the guidelines are not new, it appears that officials plan to enforce them more rigorously. No one from the Ministry of Information was available for comment. Nagib Badreddine, CEO at JWT in Saudi Arabia, urged authorities to produce a definitive list of directions in order to avoid confusion. He said: “The problem is they give them in bits and pieces and they are unpredictable. What would be better for us to have in one shot, ‘these are the rules, these are the conditions’ and they are valid for a certain period of time, so that we don’t keep adjusting when the new laws come in.” And he said that the restrictions on what can be used in advertising made agencies become more creative. “When you are in Saudi there are rules for the game,” he said. “The challenge is to be creative within these rules. If they remove the rules creativity becomes a given. If there are no rules and everyone can play. I don’t think this should be an excuse for mediocrity in the output.” Khalil Minawi, managing director at Impact BBDO in Riyadh, said: “We are more careful. We are abiding by the rules definitely. We actually adapt quickly and we have to challenge ourselves on creativity and be more creative in delivering the message with a twist. The narrower it is the more challenging it is. It will challenge us more.”

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