Saudi Arabia to grant new network licenses to foreign operators

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Updated 16 January 2020

Saudi Arabia to grant new network licenses to foreign operators

  • There are 43.8 million mobile subscribers in Saudi Arabia

LONDON: Saudi Arabia is opening up its telecom sector to further competition with plans to award licenses to foreign mobile virtual network operators.

The Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) made the disclosure on Tuesday. It is part of a broader plan to accelerate the ICT sector’s growth by 50 percent in the Kingdom and increase its contribution to GDP by $13.3 billion.

The move will create more competition for industry incumbents Saudi Telecommunications Company, Mobily and Zain.

The government has also offered MVNO licenses to Virgin, Etihad Jawraa and Lebara.

“While new licenses will enhance prospects for investment in the sector, it is also a concrete demonstration of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to welcoming innovative companies to realize the Kingdom’s commercial opportunities,” said CITC Gov. Mohammed Al-Tamimi.

“What distinguishes the ICT sector in the Kingdom is the breadth of new opportunities we offer where cutting-edge companies can allow their creativity to flourish in a rapidly expanding market,” he said.

There are 43.8 million mobile subscribers in Saudi Arabia with a mobile penetration rate of 129 percent of the total population. 

Information technology investment in Saudi Arabia is being driven by its young and tech-savvy population, 58 percent of whom are under the age of 30.

The Kingdom also has one of the highest social media penetration rates in the world.

Dubai rents may be bottoming out as ‘green shoots’ appear

Updated 20 January 2020

Dubai rents may be bottoming out as ‘green shoots’ appear

  • An estimated 45,000 homes were completed in Dubai in 2019 according to Chesterton estimates

LONDON: Confidence may be returning to Dubai property despite a bloated market for off-plan homes, according to a report from Chestertons, the real estate broker.

Although apartment and villa sales prices were down 2 percent and 3 percent respectively in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to the previous quarter, rental rates are stabilizing.

But supply issues continue to represent the biggest challenge facing the market, with 45,000 new units completed in 2019 and that expected to double this year.

“The Dubai residential market in Q4 2019 is alluding to a more positive outlook for 2020 thanks to the slowdown of sales price declines and the leveling of rental rates,” said Chris Hobden, of Chestertons MENA. “This does, however, have to be tempered by the volume of new units scheduled for delivery in 2020, which makes the short-term recovery of prices in the emirate unlikely.”

In the rental market, no movement was witnessed in the fourth quarter with the market supported by a draft law which would fix rental rates for three years upon the signing of a contract. 

“To ensure high occupancy in 2020, landlords will have to be realistic in the face of tough market conditions. The incentives previously offered to tenants, such as rent-free periods, multiple cheques and short-term leases, will continue, with an increase in tenant demand for monthly direct debit payments also likely” added Hobden.