The U.S. Commercial Service in Saudi Arabia organizes a dynamic annual trade events calendar, including and especially the recruitment of official Saudi delegations to more than a dozen important trade shows in the United States each year under the auspices of the Commerce Department’s International Buyer Program, as well as Trade Missions, promotion of trade events in Saudi Arabia, the USA and in other countries, etc.
Advertising, especially on satellite television, is rapidly expanding, but commercials have to conform to religious and ethical codes. With some minor exceptions, the female human form is not culturally or religiously acceptable 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 & Television (ART). Other Arabic satellite channels that also have proved to be popular in the Arab world include LBC, Future Television, Dubai One TV, Dubai TV, New TV, Channel 2, MBC2, MBC3, and MBC4. Many Saudi companies place commercials on these channels as well as on two pan-Arab news channels, Arabiya and Al-Jazira channels. In addition, two encrypted TV networks each provide approximately 30 channels for an average subscription of $1,000 per year. The networks include Orbit Communications and ShowTime. 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 Saudi Gazette, have an average circulation in the range of 35,000 copies. The leading Arabic newspapers, with nationwide distribution, have circulations in the range of 70,000 to 100,000: Al Hayat, Riyadh Daily, and Okaz.
Other relevant newspapers have lower circulations, and some have only regional distribution. The principal papers are Al Bilad, Al Jazirah, Al Madina, Al Nadwa, Al Riyadh, Al Youm, Um Al Qura, Al Watan, Al-Riyadiya (sports only). The economic daily Al Eqtisadiah has rapidly earned a loyal readership of executives and government officials.
Trade promotion events take place from September through June, with most of them 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 promotion and trade, organizing shows and presentations for individual companies or groups, and have been eager to attract American and other Western suppliers.