Television Advertising in the Arab World: A Status Report

Morris Kalliny
Missouri University of Science and Technology

Grace Dagher, Michael S. Minor and Gilberto De Los Santos
The University of Texas–Pan American


Our stereotypical view of the Middle East may be composed of a mosaic of images: Egyptian pyramids, oil gushing from the sands, tiny, but wealthy emirates, and Muslim extremists. We will argue that the situation in advertising there is equally rich, diverse, and complicated.

The traditional view, perhaps, is that the Middle East is not media-rich. For example, Al-Makaty, Van Tubergen, Whitlow, and Boyd (1996) argued that television advertising until recently was virtually unknown in the Saudi Arabian home, except for about 30 percent of the population in the Eastern Province who could receive broadcasts from neighboring states such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). This was not so much due to a lack of television sets in Saudi homes, as to the fact that prior to 1986 the government of Saudi Arabia did not open its national television system to commercial advertising (Al-Makaty, Van Tubergen, Whitlow, and Boyd, 1996).