SIM cards with IDs are on sale in black market

Updated 13 March 2014
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SIM cards with IDs are on sale in black market

Despite strict regulations, street vendors in the Kingdom are still selling SIM cards of all major mobile firms without customers providing proof of identity.
According to regulations, buying and charging a SIM card requires a customer to provide an identity number. The regulations were introduced to prevent misuse and criminal activities.
A seller, Abdul Rahman, told Arab News that SIM cards without ID numbers cost between SR50 and SR1,500, depending on the uniqueness of the number sought by the customer. An expatriate can have as many as 10 different SIM cards while a Saudi citizen can have 20 numbers.
“People can buy SIM cards from us without producing any document. Those who want to register their SIM cards on their name are welcome to do so, but if someone doesn’t have an ID or doesn’t want to buy the SIM on his ID, we can provide the person with a SIM card without any problem because the seller himself will provide the ID number,” he said.
When asked whose ID numbers are used, Abdul Rahman said it could be anyone and buyers need not worry about this. “We have cards with different ID numbers written on them for customers who don’t have iqama numbers or others who don’t want to use their own iqama number,” he said.
If anyone wants to register the SIM with his ID number, the street vendor does that too by forwarding a message to the mobile phone company along with a photocopy of the ID card.
Abdul Rahman said there is no danger of being caught out by the mobile phone firms. “Anyone can get any SIM card from us without any problem. If someone wants a particular number, that can also be arranged but it comes at a premium,” he said.
Zaheer Ahmed, a buyer, told Arab News that he bought a card without quoting his iqama number. The vendor provided him with someone else’s iqama number to be filled in on the form. “I asked him about this, but he said I shouldn't worry about anything,” he said.
Ahmed said the vendor told him that he has contacts with people at mobile firms so there is no possibility of getting into trouble.
“I went to the STC office and asked them about this practice, but they said if anyone bought SIM cards from them to sell, it was not their problem,” he said.
He said the sale of such SIM cards in the open market would encourage people to misuse them and even commit fraud.
Amina Rasheed, a Jeddah resident, said she and many of her friends receive crank calls from individuals not known to them. “I blocked these numbers on some occasions, but they continued to harass me by calling from different numbers,” she said.
Another buyer, Mamoon Malik, said it was common to see vendors selling SIM cards in the market. “Even the officials at phone companies are aware of this practice,” he said.
Arab News could not get comment from mobile companies.


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-ti
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”