Telecom firms unmoved by boycott campaign

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People's anger can be gauged by their Tweets.
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Most customers think telecom firms are unmoved by the campaign. (SPA)
Updated 04 October 2016

Telecom firms unmoved by boycott campaign

JEDDAH: Saudi telecommunication firms face a social boycott launched by clients protesting high prices and "bad services" provided by these companies.
The boycott will cause losses that could reach up to SR50 million if the campaign continues for more than a month, according to an economist.
The boycott started at 6 p.m. Sunday and it will continue for three hours every day. All SIM card users have been requested by campaigners to switch off their phones for three hours every day.
The boycott has been seen as the first of its kind in the Kingdom. Many users of SIM cards complained of an ongoing blocking of free-call applications for smart phones and stopping provision of unlimited Internet packages.
The boycott of telecommunication services has also taken others forms. Thousands of users have unfollowed Twitter accounts of telecommunication companies to create pressure on them to reduce prices and improve services.
One of the Saudi telecommunication companies had announced that it would stop offering unlimited Internet packages, while other firms had said the service and packages would resume. The Communications and Information Technology Commission has remained silent about the decision, sparking intense debates and discussions on social media.
Telecommunication firms have maintained silence too in the face of the boycott. This has encouraged many customers to join the campaign. Most customers think telecom firms are unmoved by the campaign.
Economist Fadal Bou Al-Ainain said telecom firms would lose more than SR50 million if the boycott were to continue for more than one month. The firms review their sales reports every month to check their performance in the Saudi market.
Speaking to Arab News, Al-Ainain said this kind of boycott is happening for the first time in the Kingdom. This boycott has been organized very well and it will give highly positive results. The results would impact on the reputation of the firms.
Several sales branches of telecom firms in Riyadh witnessed a low number of visitors and clients, according to a local report. To make matters worse, the boycott comes at a time when the Saudi market is witnessing a recession.
“The boycott campaign will force Saudi telecommunication firms to review their prices and quality of services. There are no other options to avoid huge losses. Organizers of the boycott campaign succeeded in using the social networking websites to encourage users to join the campaign,” Al-Ainain added.

Visit to Pakistan, India and China proves strategic for Saudi Arabia

Updated 24 February 2019

Visit to Pakistan, India and China proves strategic for Saudi Arabia

  • Benefits of three-country tour include billions in economic deals as well as security initiatives

JEDDAH: The three-country tour of Asia by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that came to a close this weekend was an economic and strategic success, experts say.

“Saudi Arabia might be seen by some as moving to the East,” Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), told Arab News. “The correct way to put it is that it’s spreading its wings East and West.

“Economic diversification requires strategic diversification. This should not be seen in any way as Saudi Arabia giving the cold shoulder to its most trusted allies, specifically the US,” he said. “And as Joseph Parry said: ‘Make new friends but keep the old; those are silver, these are gold.’”

The tour, which saw Saudi Arabia’s crown prince warmly welcomed by the leaders of Pakistan, India and China, is in line with the crown prince’s Vision 2030, which plans to transform Saudi Arabia’s economy that relies on crude oil exports into a vibrant, diversified economy. The tour resulted in billions of dollars in economic deals as well as initiatives to increase security and combat terrorism.

“Saudi Arabia is the one and only country that can take the leadership position on the global efforts of combating terrorism, specifically in the ideological front,” Al-Ansari said.

Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said that China and Saudi Arabia have the same goals of security and stability. “China shares the Kingdom’s concerns and it knows that our continent has suffered from terrorism issues and international interventions and also troubles in the region.”

The two countries also improved on their mutually beneficial economic ties. As Al-Shehri pointed out: “China needs a huge energy source, and Saudi Arabia is one of these sources that can provide China with energy.”

One significant deal is the $10 billion refining and petrochemical complex, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Norinco, to be developed in the Chinese city of Panjin.

Also of great geopolitical significance is the $10-billion oil-refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, as it is one of the most important parts of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, Al-Shehri said. “Global players are willing to invest in this project. The Kingdom’s investment in this field will serve Pakistan and will benefit the Kingdom as well as the (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor).”

And despite its historical relationship with Pakistan, Al-Shehri said that the Kingdom also found common ground with India. For instance, the two countries agreed to set up a working group on counter-terrorism. 

“India shares the Kingdom’s concern about instability in the seas, such as the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. These are all places of global trade,” Al-Shehri said, adding that he hopes the Kingdom will play a role in resolving border points of contention between Pakistan and India as it did between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

It wasn’t all just business. The crown prince’s tour included some other announcements, including that 2,100 Pakistani and 850 Indian prisoners will be released from the Kingdom’s jails, that the Chinese language will be introduced in the Saudi school curriculum and that Saudi Arabia will soon host several concerts featuring major Bollywood performers.

The crown prince also called for the creation of a health center in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province dedicated to the memory of a Pakistani hero who saved 14 lives in Jeddah’s 2009 floods.