$80 Fine for Saudi Motorists Caught Playing Pokemon Go
“Playing Pokemon Go will distract the driver who may hurt himself, other motorists and pedestrians,” an official warned.
Saudi Motorists found playing mobile game Pokemon Go will be fined SAR 300 ($80), the country’s traffic department said.
The Traffic Department director general for the Eastern Province Major General Abdullah Al-Zahrani detailed the fine.
“Playing Pokemon Go will distract the driver who may hurt himself, other motorists and pedestrians,” he warned.
No player has been caught playing Pokemon Go while driving so far, according to the official, but he expected tickets to be issued soon.
Other Saudi security agencies have also been given permission to issue tickets for the offence.
Since its launch two weeks ago, the game has been blamed for several traffic accidents.
Last Monday a driver in Baltimore, Md crashed into a police car while playing the game.
Several other countries in the Gulf have also warned users against playing the game, which uses technology including GPS and augmented reality.
Kuwait’s Interior Ministry said last week that users of the application should not take pictures of vital government, military or security locations and using the app at mosques, shopping centers, malls and oil installations.
In the UAE, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority warned the game could be used for criminal activities as it invades users’ privacy and requests details about their geographical location.
Saudi’s Communication and Information Technology Commission has issued a similar warning.
Pokemon the game and cartoon was banned in the Kingdom in Y 2001.
The Higher Committee for Scientific Research and Islamic Law also issued a fatwa against the Pokemon craze that has now been renewed following the launch of the new game.
The augmented reality app, developed by Niantic, encourages users to find Pokemon in real world locations using their smartphone’s camera and a GPS-guided map.
Users are encouraged to visit local landmarks dubbed ‘Pokestops’ to collect items. These mostly include public places like malls, mosques, certain buildings, playgrounds, billboards and other attractions.
Pokemon Go has yet to officially become available in the Gulf Cooperation Council states, but users have found ways to download it from 3rd party sources.
By Robert Anderson
Paul Ebeling, Editor