UAE seeks tighter rules on immoral ads

The Federal National Council has urged authorities to tighten regulations on commercial advertisements that are considered shameful, disrespectful and do not reflect the morals, codes and conducts of the UAE.

During an FNC hearing on Tuesday, Hamad Al Rahoomi, a member from Dubai, told Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri, Director General at the General Authority for Regulating the Telecommunications Sector (TRA), that tougher procedures must be put in place before ads are given the green light and watched by millions of UAE residents.

“Why are ads, which do not take into consideration the traditions of the society, being promoted to the public?” Asked Al Rahoomi.

“What is the role of the TRA when it comes to censoring and approving such commercials?” He continued.

The FNC member referred to the recent du ad, which was pulled from cinemas across the country, after receiving a heavy number of complaints.

The 1.25 minute long tongue-in-cheek ad, which caused quiet a stir, was dubbed ‘The man sitting next to you,’ promoted du’s weekly buy-one-get-one-free offer, by poking fun of strangers sitting next to each other and emphasising on their lack of manners and etiquette skills.

The makers of the commercial, Leo Burnett Dubai advertising agency, aimed at symbolising the uncomfortable emotion of someone having his or her space invaded.

The advertisement depicts a man loudly sipping his drink, another vigorously crunching on popcorn, while another sneezing and spitting-out his food on another man’s face, a crying child, as well as a heavy woman who accidentally brushes herself against a man’s face as she squeezes her way through the aisle.

The telecommunications company removed the satire advertisement, stating: “We’re aware that our ‘The Man Sitting Next To You’ ad was loved by some but criticized by others.”

“The purpose of the ad was to highlight some of the bad habits that are practiced by some moviegoers in hopes that it helps enhance the movie experience to all movie lovers in the UAE.”

However, Al Rahoomi said viewers did not find the ad “funny,” but rather “disrespectful,” and thus thorough procedures must be implemented on all commercials prior to their release.

“I received complaints and calls from young and elderly Emiratis, even at 1am, who were shocked about the indecency of this video.”

“How was this ad passed? I am sure that no Emirati reviewed it, because no Emirati regardless of age would approve this.”

The Director General of TRA said investigations have been launched to find out how the video was released to the public before official approval.

“Right now the National Media Council (NMC) are investigating the release of the video, because the video did not reach the NMC for approval.”

“Agencies usually send ads to the cinemas and it’s the cinemas responsibility to send the ads to NMC for approval.”

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