'Tech savvy' Saudis have average of 1.8 mobile phones each

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Consumers in Saudi Arabia have an average of almost two mobile phone lines each, according to the governor of the country's telecoms regulator.

There are around 1.8 mobile phone lines registered per person in the kingdom, according to Abdulla al-Darrab, governor of the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC).


That marks one of the highest levels in the world, al-Darrab said at Monday's World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) forum, according to a statement issued by CITC.

Khaldoon Said, a computer engineer and technology columnist at the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, said the numbers reflect Saudi Arabia's “technologically savvy” population.

“The youth constitute the majority of Saudi Arabia’s population, and they are always on the look [out] for the latest technologies, especially mobile phones,” he told Al Arabiya.

Of the total kingdom's population, 54 percent are internet users, al-Darrab said, according to the Al-Hayat newspaper. He stated that the length of fiber-optic cabling, which helps deliver high-speed internet, had increased to above 12,000 kilometers across the country.

Despite the rise in connectivity, Said explained why the kingdom still faces challenges in the sector.

“Saudi Arabia has large under-populated areas; building expansion happens horizontally, with more costs for offering fiber optic connections, as opposed to dense cities where [construction] is vertical, and one fiber optic [cable can serve] tens of floors,” he said.

This could be a factor behind concerns raised by the Consumer Protection Association (CPA) in Saudi Arabia on the charges set by telecommunications service providers.

The governmental General Commission for Survey has also cited the high telecoms fees in the kingdom, saying recently that the situation was hindering its ability to efficiently practice its duties.

In comparison to the rest of the region, Saudi Arabia is considered a “leader in terms of connectivity, but faces major challenges in e-government services,” said Said.

Some of the challenges the kingdom faces are a “lack of policy and regulation for e-usage, lack of programs to promote e-government benefits... and needs for change in individual attitudes and organizational culture,” Said explained.

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