Saudi Communications Commission activates Internet calls, WhatsApp still blocked

applications including FaceTime, Snape Chat, Skype, Line, Telegram, Tango would be available to all users who are subscribed to the Kingdom’s telecommunications services. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2017
0

Saudi Communications Commission activates Internet calls, WhatsApp still blocked

JEDDAH: The Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has announced the lifting of the ban on all applications that provide voice and video call services over the Internet.
Applications that meet regulatory requirements in the Kingdom can again offer Internet phone calls – known as Voice Over Internet Protocol – starting September 21.
Adel Abu Heemed, the CITC spokesman, said that applications including FaceTime, Snapchat, Skype, Line, Telegram, Tango would be available to all users who are subscribed to the Kingdom’s telecommunications services.
Abu Hemeed said, in a series of messages over Twitter, that the commission has lifted the ban on applications that met the requirements “without the need to provide specific packages.”
He detailed the list of regulatory requirements imposed on the applications, including the removal of content that violate the Kingdom’s regulations as well cooperation with the CITC in cases of emergencies.
“Regulatory requirements include: clarity of mechanism taken by those application providers in handling personal data of users in the Kingdom.”
The decision to lift the ban, Abu Heemed said, comes in line with the recent trends in the CIT sector and that the reliance on data revenues and additional services is the global trend that operators in the Kingdom should take.
He added that the authority is working with all stakeholders to provide all the telecom subscribers in the Kingdom with the finest services that meet their aspirations and satisfy their needs.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp and Viber users have aired their concerns regarding the exclusion of the apps’ calling features from the list.
“What are the requirements WhatsApp failed to meet?” One Twitter user wondered. “May we know why you didn’t unblock WhatsApp?
80% of the people use WhatsApp and this service allows us to contact our families more given that we live apart.”
Abu Heemed said that the list of regulatory requirements was subject to changes based on the changing course of events.
“Whenever an update comes to being, and we in the commission find it in the users interest, we impose that requirements,” he said in a television interview on Wednesday.
He warned users from using other applications to unblock the calling feature, which prejudices the user’s personal data.


Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program ‘fundamental to Kingdom’s energy sector’

Updated 18 September 2018
0

Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program ‘fundamental to Kingdom’s energy sector’

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s atomic energy program is fundamental for developing a sustainable energy sector, a senior minister told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday.
The Kingdom plans to start building its first two nuclear power reactors this year and as many as 16 over the next 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion. The plan is to provide 15 percent of Saudi Arabia’s power from nuclear by 2032.
Speaking athe IAEA’s annual conference in Vienna, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the atomic reactor projects were were part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to diversify its energy sources to nuclear and renewables.
The program “abides by all international treaties and conventions and best practices, adhering to the highest standards of safety, security and transparency,” Al Falih said.
The minister said Saudi Arabia was committed to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which calls for nuclear disarmament and stresses the commitment of nuclear power states to share their peaceful technologies with abiding member states.
He also said the Kingdom had called for cooperation with the international community to make the Middle East a nuclear weapons free area.
The US has started to reintroduce heavy sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, after Donald Trump pulled out of a deal with the country earlier this year to curb its atomic ambitions.
Al-Falih called on the international community to take a more stringent stance against all threats to regional and international security, particularly Iran, given its “alarming efforts to build its nuclear capabilities, in tandem with its increasing acts of sabotage and aggression against other states in the region.”