News Pokemon Go

Published on July 23rd, 2016 | by Yasser Masood


Middle East authorities issue notice for Pokemon GO

You’ve already seen the crazy viral success of Pokemon GO – the new augmented reality game that takes the popular Pokemon franchise to new heights by using your smartphone in tandem with real world locations.

Although availability has been staggered across various countries (FYI, Pokemon GO hasn’t released officially across the Middle East), many users across the Middle East have found alternate means of downloading the app onto their iOS or Android smartphones. However, authorities across the Middle East have put cautionary notices on the popular app’s usage.

Renewed Pokemon fatwa from Saudi Arabia

The largest country in the region, and also one of the most active in terms of smartphone usage and social media, has seen an old fatwa re-issued to highly discourage the use of the app. The fatwa said the Pokemon game promotes polytheism, gambling, atheism and spreads irreligious morals. The fatwa issuing authority goes as far as describing it as ‘haram’ and discouraging children from playing it.

Security and privacy issues

Since the app does use the smartphone camera for the augmented reality aspect, there have also been concerns of privacy and mobile data usage. Kuwait has put in zero tolerance for anyone who tries to photograph the Emir’s palace, mosques, oil facilities or military bases when using the app. The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority is awaiting the game’s official launch in the country, citing potential “violation of user privacy” for those who have downloaded it via other means.

Although ‘PokeStops’ may be located across landmarks in your city, you could also be violating privacy by trespassing into private property in Qatar. In addition, Qatar and Oman have highly discouraged users from using it while driving (there are strict rules in place when using phones while driving).

As the app does use the smartphone’s GPS features, it does put your location out there for people to see. The UAE’s TRA, Qatar’s CRA, and Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) have cautioned users to be careful when sharing their location.

Success stories

You can’t deny that many brands have gotten onto the bandwagon of the app’s success, as people move around their cities looking for ‘PokeStops’ that would have rarest of all Pokemon. Not only has this been embraced by retail outlets, but also by public landmarks. The success of Pokemon Go has gotten people to move around and explore their own city.

Header image credit: Pokemon GO on Twitter

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About the Author

Who am I? Some say I’m a walking breathing Wikipedia in Qatar, knowing anything from the obscure to the mainstream. I’m just a tech-savvy gadget loving and dissecting geek, juggling a day job with some community passion work. You can follow me on Twitter: @YasserM86

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