Kuwait Bans Cameras With Big Lenses — Because People Might Get Worried [Updated]

from the huh? dept

Update: And, um, this story just got odder as the original article has been updated to state that the reporter got it flat out wrong, and no such ban has been instituted by the Kuwaiti government. I’m not exactly sure how one goes about getting such basic information totally wrong, but consider the rest of this post here for posterity, rather than accuracy.

This one is just confusing. According to the LA Times, Kuwait has announced that cameras with big lenses (i.e., DSLRs) are banned for use in public in the country — with an exception for “journalism purposes.” If it seems unclear as to why DSLRs were singled out, while smaller point-and-shoots and camera phones are allowed, it appears that folks in Kuwait don’t understand it either. The best they can come up with is that many people haven’t been “exposed to art,” and won’t know what a big camera is for.

What most Kuwaiti photographers have come to wonder is how such a decision could be reached by authorities, especially considering that digital cameras and cell phone cameras have the same abilities. What most people think of photography as a hobby has become a bit misguided due to the fact that the country has so little exposure to art. While using a DSLR, passersby may wonder if the camera is being used for the wrong reasons…. What often happens is that a big black camera tends to worry people. Taking a picture of a stranger would seem like much less of an issue if you were using a more discreet camera or even a cell phone.

If you thought some laws in the US didn’t make much sense, at least you can be happy knowing that other countries are even more bizarre.

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Comments on “Kuwait Bans Cameras With Big Lenses — Because People Might Get Worried [Updated]”

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Josef Anvil (profile) says:

RIAA perimeter breach

Parody of Sir-Mix-A- Lot without the express permission of the artist will result in fines of no less than $18,000 per incident. This is your one and only warning and we will be requesting that the host of this site remove the infringing content immediately.


And because we know you were thinking about putting this parody on youtube, don’t.


NullOp says:


Laws don’t always make sense. Its easy to take something and blow if way out of proportion and soon you’ve got a real scare going on. The media does this all the time. Its how they make their living! FUD is the bread and butter of journalism. This kind of thing is also favored by oppressive governments. Those that wish do as they please rather than follow the laws. Remember, if no one saw it, it didn’t happen…

Bob says:

We flew into Aman, Jordan last year, and had to wait 45 minutes while they located a military officer to inspect our binoculars. We had two small, folding pair. The customs agent didn’t seem to like the pair labeled “National Geographic”. They did not seem concerned about my somewhat larger telephoto lens for my camera. Jordan does X-ray all incoming luggage.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

DSLRs are much better at certain tasks. DSLR video provides a much more appealing picture than consumer camcorders, and a full frame DSLR can take much nicer pictures than a point and shoot, all conditions being equal. However, aesthetic issues aside, if someone is taking a picture for practical purposes (“I want a picture of that person as he leaves the house.”) there is little or no difference.

Icoy says:

Size doesn't matter!

Size doesnt matter if they want to ban the DSLR cameras then same thing with the small digital cameras…if Kuwait Govt not contented then ban all cellphones with cameras too, things getting worst? shutdown all the shops selling DSLR Cameras, they don’t care about the tourist and the tourism industry though you can’t even find any tourist spot in this ridiculous country.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

DSLR cameras

Didn’t know that was what they are called, but one was used to hide explosives to kill a popular Afghan leader years ago, another was use to hide a gun to kill someone in a European country (I believe Yugoslavia) – but of course, there is no reason for such a law – we just said so, didn’t we? And we is Americans, we is allowed to tell them furriners how to do things.

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