Saudi Arabia - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Promotion and Advertising

Includes web links to local trade fair or show authorities and local newspapers, trade publications, radio/TV/cable information.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

The U.S. Commercial Service in Saudi Arabia organizes a number of annual trade promotion events aligned with Saudi market needs and priorities, such as leading Saudi buyer delegations to participate in International Buyer Program (IBP) shows in the United States, bringing U.S. trade missions to Saudi Arabia to introduce U.S. firms to opportunities and decision makers in the Kingdom, and promoting U.S. products and services at local and regional trade events.  Trade promotion events take place from September through June, with most of the exhibitions held in the modern exhibit centers in Saudi Arabia’s three major cities: Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran.  Smaller exhibition facilities are also located in regional centers, and often operate in cooperation with or under the sponsorship of a local chamber of commerce.  Most chambers have a proactive approach to promote trade and organize shows and presentations for individual companies or groups, and have been eager to attract American and other Western suppliers.

Companies seeking to develop advertising and/or promotional campaigns will find highly experienced advertising agencies in the Kingdom.  These agencies can design and deploy locally-appropriate and effective campaigns using print media, radio, or television.  Advertising, especially on satellite television, is rapidly expanding, but commercials must conform to religious and ethical codes and local customs.  With some minor exceptions, it is not culturally or religiously acceptable to show the female human form in the media.  The Saudi monopoly on television broadcasting was broken with the introduction of satellite television, which also forced TV advertising rates to come down.

Saudi companies have opted to run commercials through international satellite TV channels, such as the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Arab Radio and Television.  Arabic satellite channels that have also gained popularity in the Arab world include: LBC, Future Television, Dubai One TV, Dubai TV, New TV, Channel 2, MBC 2 and MBC 4.  Many Saudi companies place commercials on these channels as well as on two pan-Arab news channels, Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera.  Newspaper advertising is carried in both the local English and Arabic press, but its effectiveness is somewhat limited by relatively low readership rates.  The two local English dailies, Arab News and the Saudi Gazette, have an average daily circulation rate in the range of 35,000 copies.  The leading Arabic newspapers have a daily circulation rate in the range of 70,000 to 100,000.  The economic daily Al-Eqtisadiah has rapidly earned a loyal readership of executives and government officials.  Other newspapers with lower circulation and regional distribution include: Al-Bilad, AlJazirah, Al-Madina, Al-Nadwa, Al- Yaum, Um Al-Qoura, Al-Watan, Al-Riyadiya (sports only).