Muscat: Commercial centres that do not provide customers with receipts written in Arabic could face a fine of up to OMR5,000, according to the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP).
The penalty is based on the Consumer Protection Law, which was updated by Royal Decree 66/2014.
Among the additions introduced by the decree were four articles -- 5, 15, 19, and 24 -- which focus on the Arabic language.
“It is said that language is the key to everything,” said Buthaina Al Sheikaily, Legal Researcher for the PACP.
“Therefore it is important to protect the rights of consumers to understand what is being presented to them, for them to avoid falling into a trap or becoming victims of injustice, regardless of whether the consumer is an Omani or a foreigner.”
Arabic is the first and primary language of the Sultanate. As a result, many government institutions pay close attention to preserving the language in its institutions and in legislation.
This is reflected in Article 5 of Consumer Protection Law No. 66/2014, which focuses on the Arabisation of commodities and services.
“For any commodity or service that can cause damage to the consumer or the consumer’s property upon use, a clear and specific warning must be given in Arabic and English,” the provision states. “The warning shall indicate the correct method to use the commodity or service and means of remedying any damages that may result from such use, in accordance with the regulations.”
Meanwhile, Article 15 of the Consumer Protection Law refers to the consumer’s right to obtain a purchase document or an invoice written in Arabic.
“It is possible to add one or more languages besides the Arabic language, on condition that the writing is clear and easy to read,” said Al Sheikaily.
Using the appropriate language on the receipt also ensures that consumers are aware of their rights, such as the right of replacement and recovery and the right of security.
According to Article 39 of Consumer Protection Law 66/2014, anyone that violates Article 5 of the consumer protection law could face “imprisonment for no less than 10 days and no more than one year, with a fine of not less than OMR100 and not exceeding OMR2,000, or either of those two penalties.”
Businesses that do not provide consumers with bills written in Arabic are subject to a fine of up to OMR5,000.
Imposing the policy on all establishments can be challenging, but authorities have been working with suppliers and consumers to apply it to various establishments in the market.
“Consumers can report to the PACP any business that does not comply with the Arabisation of its invoices,” Al Sheikaily added.