Four Saudi ministers have appealed to to lift the ban on camera phones in the Kingdom.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Ministry of Finance all separately requested that mobile phones with cameras be allowed.
In many countries places such as leisure centres have banned camera phones from the premises, but Saudi Arabia is the only country to have made them illegal. The ministers say that mobile phones have become a “fait accompli, like television and the internet,” AFP reports.
News source: TheRegister Saudi Arabia imports 6m mobile phones a year, and the ministers note that most mobile phones will come equipped with cameras. Therefore, companies will have to make separate phones for Saudi Arabia, thus driving up the price. The small, but prospering, black market in camera phones will also expand, the ministers say.
A ban on camera phones has been in place since October 2002, according to a Silicon.com report from the time. The ban was enacted out of a fear that men would use the phones to secretly photograph women, and publish the pictures on the internet without the consent of the subjects.
But camera phones are still freely available in Saudi Arabia and have been since before the ban was imposed. This trade in illegal phones is so prevalent that they are still widely advertised, despite the ban. Confusingly, the technically illegal Samsung E700 is advertised on a main thoroughfare in Jeddah, Arab News reports.
However, in September this year, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, ruled that mobile phones with cameras are not acceptable.