After four years of banning social media in the country country, Saudi Arabia has announced according to a statement made by the Saudi Arabia Telecommunication Authority that it would lift the ban with effect from today on social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat and other messaging platforms, and any other voice or video App that meets the regulatory standards and rules of the country.
CITC spokesman Mr. Adel Abu Hameed who explained that the lifting is to strengthen the economy of the country and also help create business opportunities over the internet, he also added that
“This decision comes in line with the recent trends in the ICT sector; the reliance on data revenues (Internet delivery) and added 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 of the finest services that meet their aspirations and satisfy their needs”.
The ban was introduced in 2013 when Saudi Arabia expressed security concerns over the platforms like Skype ,WhatsApp that have secure communication protocols that’s extremely difficult for the country to observe or monitor the activities of its citizens. Virtually all American based messaging platforms have end-to-end encryption which means government authorities are not able to break in to get information about a person of interest. This has put the tech industry against the authorities the world over.
However the Saudi ban lifting will help businesses to grow and also make it easier for people to operate their business over the internet but according to Reuters the ban lift will increase revenue from the three main telecommunications networks which are Zain, Mobily, and Saudi Arabia telecom Co, because they were the major service provider for all data calls, for both local calls and international calls too. This means more Saudi residents will now be able to connect with their counterparts across the world and this means the telecom companies will eventually sell the data to power internet communications.
Saudi Arabia as you may know is one of the biggest oil producers but since the fall of the oil price over two years ago, they have found it increasingly difficult to fund some of the capital projects. Saudi has therefore decided to look for other sources of revenue to make up for the current shortage all major oil producers around the world are experiencing.
The Arab nation even invested $3.5b out of its $2tr wealth fund in Uber last year and were linked to buying Twitter at some point.
It would seem that Saudi Arabia is now looking to technology to help shore up revenue as oil plummet and the internet seems to be the nearest route to go in to help build their business and boost their economy.
August this year , Sarahah a messaging app was launched by a Saudi Arabia app developer Zain al Abidin Tawfiq, the app topped the chart of the most downloaded free app in the App Store and Play Sore and has since drawn the attention of investors.
Hala Fadel, a venture capitalist who partners with the digital start-up wrote last year that middle east nations should join the digital market by investing in it , he also added that “With 70% of the population under age 30, the Arabs are a hyper social and hyper digital population.” but it took a while before the country agreed with Fadel in a statement today made by the ministry of information of Saudi Arabia that “Digital transformation is one of the key kick-starters for the Saudi economy, as it will incentivize the growth of internet-based businesses, especially in the media and entertainment industries,” .
Yeah, great news for Saudi Arabians as they can now join the rest of the world to interact using chat, video call, voice call and do lots of other fun stuffs on social media platform but rules and regulations still continues and some sites such as pornographic, or gambling-related websites are still restricted.