Photo and video enthusiasts in Saudi Arabia may find themselves restricted of freedom to showcase their talents as the country appears not to be among the most welcoming place to practice photography.
Videotaping and photography at disallowed areas such as government installations including airports are subject to huge fines of up to SAR 500,000 and possibly up to a year in prison.
Saudi Gazette recently outlined the downsides of street photography which, “as a hobby can lead you straight to prison if you violate the cybercrime law and post the picture online,” as it cites Article 3 of the country’s 2007 cybercrime law which states that anyone who snaps a cell phone photo that violates someone’s privacy rights and then posts the photo to social media should be punished with one year in jail or a fine of up to SAR 500,000.
The emergence of social media websites with focus on photo sharing such as Instagram and Snapchat has made photos easily sharable to friends instantly.
Jawaher Al-Nahari, director of women’s affairs at the Human Rights Commission (HRC), Makkah Province, said the government has enforced laws to protect the privacy of all members of society.
“Unfortunately, many are unaware of such laws and the risks they could put themselves through,” Al-Nahari said.
Abdulaziz Al-Aqeel a government media advisor says no one should take street photographs without first getting a permit from the country’s Ministry of Culture and Information.
“A photographer who attends an event should wear a badge that shows what organization he or she works for. A photographer should not publish or post a photo online without the permission of the person appearing in the photo,” he says.