Qatar’s new advertising law
There is a mandatory requirement for billboards to be in Arabic states a new law in Qatar
Public advertising in Qatar is regulated by a number of laws depending on the type of advertising to be utilised. For example, the Press and Publication Law No. (8) of 1979 is relevant in respect of newspapers, magazines and other items in print and the Radio and Television Law No. (11) of 1997 is relevant in respect of commercials broadcast on radio and television.
This year, a law was promulgated, Law No. (1) of 2012 (‘Advertising Law’) that now regulates the requirements for the placement of billboards and signage in Qatar. One of the main requirements of the Advertising Law is that the primary text of the advertisement is displayed in Arabic (although a translation into other languages could be permitted in the advertisement).
The Advertising Law applies to advertisements that are aimed at the general public or a specific sector of the public to inform them of certain commodities, industrial and commercial products, equipment, machinery or any activities, commercial, industrial or vocational whether this is made through writings, drawings, images, sound, light or any means of expression and whether such advertisement is produced on wood, metal, paper, cloth, plastic, or other material.
In order to display or publish an advertisement, prior authorisation is required from the applicable municipality in which the advertisement is placed (‘Municipality’). This is done by obtaining a permit from the Municipality and paying a prescribed fee. To obtain a permit from the Municipality various requirements must be met. For example, the permit application must include the advertisements content, specification, details of the material used and the method of installation. Each permit is personal and can only be transferred with the consent of the Municipality.
Advertising permits granted pursuant to the Advertising Law will only be granted at the discretion of the Municipality on a case-by-case basis. The permits are granted on a temporary basis for a limited period unless renewed for an additional period again at the discretion of the Municipality. On expiry of the advertising permit, the advertisement must be removed within five days of the expiry date otherwise the Municipality will remove the advertisement at the expense of the permit holder.
Advertising with loudspeakers is permitted but only with special permission and in accordance with the guidelines granted by the Municipality.
All permit holders are required to maintain the advertisement in a good condition. The Municipality can notify a permit holder to undertake maintenance of an advertisement, and failure to comply with the notification within seven days of being notified of the required maintenance work can result in the Municipality’s removal of the advertisement at the permit holder’s expense.
Certain areas including those of worship, governmental walls and buildings, archaeological and historical sites, tree and plant containers, and traffic signage cannot be used for placing advertising boards.
Certain categories of advertisement require an advertising permit but are exempt from any payment of the prescribed fees, and these types of advertisement include advertisements that are placed on commercial and industrial establishments, general stores and establishments of professionals that relate to their business activities. Other types of advertisements that are exempt from the payment of the prescribed fees include advertisements for charities, religious, social and cultural events, advertisements placed by governmental bodies on public occasions such as national holidays and on social occasions.
Certain government authorities have been designated to regulate the placement of advertisements specific to their activities and these designated bodies are as follows:
Qatar Civil Aviation Authority for the placement of advertisements in airports or airport facilities;
Qatar Media Corporation in relation to the placement of advertisements made via the audio or visual mass media;
Qatar Olympic Committee in relation to the placement of advertisements made in relation to sports facilities;
Qatar Ports Management Company in relation to the placement of advertisements placed in ports or docks of any of its facilities;
Qatar Post Company in relation to the placement of advertisements placed in its facilities or in its postal publications;
Authorities in charge of certain designated investment zones authorised by Cabinet Resolution in relation to the placement of advertisements in these investment zones.
Potential advertisers should also be aware that it is imperative that they take the necessary steps to comply with the Advertising Law. Any violation of the Advertising Law could result in a fine of up to QR20,000. In addition to a fine, a court may order removal of the advertisement, and require restoration of any property on which the advertisement was placed at the expense of the violator.
All Qatari Laws (save for those issued by the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) to regulate its own business) are issued in Arabic and there are no official translations, therefore for the purposes of drafting this article we have used our own translation and interpreted the same in the context of Qatari regulation and current market practice. This article should be used for information purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as such. Should you have any questions in connection with this article or the legal issues it covers, please contact Brenda Hill of DLA Piper [email protected]