$80 fine for Saudi motorists caught playing Pokemon Go

“Playing Pokemon will distract the driver who may hurt himself, other motorists and pedestrians,” an official has warned



Saudi Motorists found playing mobile game Pokemon Go will be fined SAR 300 ($80), the country’s traffic department has been quoted as saying.

Saudi Gazette cited Traffic Department director general for the Eastern Province Major General Abdullah Al-Zahrani as detailing the fine.

“Playing Pokemon 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 authorise tickets for the offence.

Since its launch two weeks ago, the game has been blamed for several traffic accidents.

On Monday a driver in Baltimore, US, reportedly 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 centres, malls and oil installations.

Read: Kuwait warns Pokemon Go may harm users, society

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.

UAE telecoms authority warns against playing Pokemon Go

Saudi’s Communication and Information Technology Commission has issued a similar warning.

Pokemon the game and cartoon was banned in the kingdom in 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, but users have found ways to download it from third party sources.