Messenger call outage leaves users baffled

Updated 11 May 2016
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Messenger call outage leaves users baffled

RIYADH: Netizens across the Kingdom on Tuesday expressed concern and astonishment as voice and video calling for Facebook messenger and imo have stopped working in Saudi Arabia.
Internet-calling on Viber and WhatsApp were already stopped earlier in the Kingdom citing technical reasons, but on imo, it rings when called, but without connectivity.
The free Internet messenger and call service Viber was shut down for failing to comply with telecom regulations.
The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has also issued a warning that it will do the same to other smartphone apps that fail to comply with telecom regulations.
“Appropriate action will be taken against applications or services that do not comply with the regulations,” a spokesman at the commission said.

CITC officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, however, when approached, an STC official refused to comment saying he has no idea.
Earlier, reports were carried by a section of local media that telecom companies were planning to launch a collective effort to stop people making free Internet calls within the Kingdom or abroad to connect with their dear ones living in various countries.
These reports cited loss of revenues by the telecom operators in the Kingdom as the reason to put constraints on the use of Internet voice calls.
When making a call using these smart phone apps, a message appears on the screen saying, “calling unavailable because your carrier or country does not support the service.”
Dismayed by the change in policy to stop free Internet calling, citizens and expatriates alike expressed concern as Haider Zulfiqar commented on Facebook, “Social apps play a major role in our day-to-day life. It is an important aspect in the Internet world. Blocking them is not appropriate.”
“Mobile app conversations and visual communication are very crucial especially when we are living in a new era where Internet and social media outlets play a huge role in our daily life,” said Zeyad Abdullah, a PR manager, adding that it is not the loss of revenue but a marketing strategy by telecom operators to earn greater profits by stopping Internet calling.
“How can calls made from smart phone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, imo, Yahoo and Facebook messenger be stopped when they are used worldwide by millions of people with online connectivity,” said Iffat Aabroo, a housewife.
“The telecom operators instead should improve their services and avoid unnecessary promos and cutting amounts from the balance for various services not required,” she added.
“As soon as I learned about this, I deleted those apps because I knew there was no use for them. Instead, I downloaded Tango and Line and I was happy they were working with better connectivity,” said Waleed Jameel.


Saudi scholarships: An investment in the nation’s future

Updated 22 July 2019
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Saudi scholarships: An investment in the nation’s future

  • Kingdom provides financial assistance and fully paid tuition to all who qualify for scholarship
  • Many of the current recipients of scholarships are third-generation beneficiaries of the policy

JEDDAH: In an age when it is regarded as both essential and expensive, Saudi Arabia’s scholarship program provides a world-class education, ensuring financial assistance and paid tuition to all those who qualify. 

Beneficiaries of the program study abroad, returning with degrees and skills needed for the Kingdom’s development into a modern society.

In 1928, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud ordered the first batch of students to be sent on scholarships to Egypt. A total of 14 went to complete their education in medicine, agriculture, engineering and law.

It was a crucial time for the young Kingdom, and the students contributed towards building the formative nation. Many became ministers, councillors, ambassadors and engineers in top positions, helping establish ministries and forming Saudi government entities.

The early Kingdom understood the importance of education as a vehicle for national development. Today, Saudi Arabia is among the leading countries measured by annual expenditure on education, with an impressive SR193 billion ($51.4 billion) allocated for Vision 2030 initiatives, as well as projects across the Kingdom, in 2019.

Success stories abound: Abdullah Tariki, the first Saudi oil minister appointed by King Saud and a co-founder of OPEC, graduated from Cairo University and later obtained his master’s degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas.

The first Saudi woman to obtain a government scholarship was Dr. Thoraya Obaid in 1963, who served as executive director of the United Nations Population Fund and undersecretary-general of the UN from 2000-2010. Success stories like these paved the way for other Saudi women to pursue higher education in the US, UK, Egypt and Lebanon and become prominent names in their fields, both within the Kingdom and abroad.

Many of the latest recipients of Saudi scholarships are third-generation beneficiaries, following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents.

With the launch of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program in 2005, droves of Saudi students began to explore new avenues of education beyond just the West and Middle East. As of 2018, more than 90,000 Saudi students study abroad. Of these, 850 are at the world’s top 10 universities, and 1,600 are medical residents and fellows.


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