GCC Consumer Protection Day Today

RIYADH, 1 March 2006 — Saudi Arabia will join other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states today to mark the “First GCC Consumer Protection Day”, as the Kingdom intensifies its efforts to protect the interests of consumers and educate them about their rights as buyers.

The theme of the day is: “Consumer protection is the responsibility of all.”

“The Consumer Protection Day seeks to create awareness among consumers and cater to their requirements of quality goods and services at reasonable prices,” said a statement released by the GCC General Secretariat here.

Saudi Arabia is the largest market in the Gulf and has the highest number of consumers with great buying potential. It imports SR113 billion worth of products annually and ranks as the 25th largest importer of goods in the world.

“The consumers must be aware of the market issues, while the government agencies play their roles in terms of regulating prices and ensuring availability of quality products and services,” a Riyadh municipality official said.

The local markets remain flooded with cheap, counterfeit products and services. The Riyadh municipality carried out some 37,000 inspections covering 120,000 stores and supermarkets in the city last year, said the official. Over 28,000 stores were found violating health regulations, which raised public health concerns.

More than 30 percent of the total food products consumed in the Kingdom are imported.

The GCC statement said that the move to observe the day comes on the recommendation of the GCC Consumer Protection Committee, a regional body set up by the member states.

It said that a meeting of the committee held in the Kingdom had recommended observation of the day every year to create awareness about consumer issues.

The GCC has also set up a special unit to fight commercial fraud.

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