RIYADH: Non-Saudi residents and visitors to the Kingdom have been prohibited from posting ads on social media without a license, with those who ignore the ruling facing a possible five-year prison sentence and fines of up to SR5 million ($1.3 million).
The Saudi General Authority for Audiovisual Media announced the ban on Wednesday, saying it has monitored “violations by numerous non-Saudi advertisers, both residents and visitors, on social media platforms.”
The commission said that “after checking their data, it was found that they had committed systemic violations, including lack of commercial registrations and legal licenses, and they are not working under any commercial entity or foreign investment license.”
As part of the ruling, commercial establishments will be directed not to deal with, advertise with, or invite non-Saudi advertisers to events for marketing products, services and goods.
Approval for advertising will be granted only to those who work under a commercial entity, and have a license and legal documents authorizing them to practice commercial advertising on social media platforms.
“This comes within the framework of organizing advertising work in Saudi Arabia in accordance with the audiovisual media laws, the Electronic Commerce Law, and the relevant laws and regulations, including the Labor Law issued by Royal Decree No. M/51 dated Shaban 23, 1426, of which article 33 stipulates that a non-Saudi may not practice work and may not be allowed to engage in it except after obtaining a license,” the commission said.
Those who breach the regulations face prison terms of up to five years and fines of up to SR5 million.
A similar law was enacted in the UAE in 2021, with social media influencers ordered to obtain licenses from the National Media Council if they accepted paid ads on their accounts.
A license costs 15,000 dirhams ($4,000) for one year, and can be renewed.
Moayad Osama Tayeb, the owner of Talagi Advertising Agency, has been representing Saudi and foreign influencers in the Kingdom for more than a year.
“The regulations are clear, and there is nothing difficult about them," he told Arab News. "Also, it is better to control the ads in the Kingdom.”
He said influencers should work under an agency. His company represents 73 influencers, Saudi and foreign, in compliance with national media regulations.
He said influencers working with his agency who frequently did promotions were given the job title of “advertising marketers.”
“(Agencies) should set a monthly salary for the influencer and stop providing ads for the influencer that are not legal.”
He added that following the regulations set by the Kingdom would help creators avoid any illegal ads or campaigns and would, in turn, contribute to and improve the Saudi economy.