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Saudi SIM card sales hit five year low

Saudi SIM card sales hit five year low

Biometric registration and large number of expats leaving the country have hit SIM sales


SIM card sales in Saudi Arabia have reportedly hit a five year low due to the introduction of biometric registration and a large number of expatriates returning home.

Saudi Gazette cited Communication and Information Technology Commission statistics as saying there were 47.93 million SIM activations last year compared to 52.8 million in 2015.

The 4.87 million decline came despite a five year high for post-paid SIM card sales with an increase of about 900,000 subscribers last year.

The kingdom also maintained its position with one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world, standing at roughly 1.5 SIM cards for every person or 151 per cent last year, compared to 167.5 per cent in 2015.

Saudi Arabia’s telecoms market is dominated by prepaid SIMs, making up around 82 per cent of all SIM cards in use.

Subscribers in the country utilise multiple SIM cards to take advantage of promotions with different service providers and avoid fees for calling numbers on rival networks.

Last year saw large numbers of expatriate construction workers return home after mass redundancies at companies including Saudi Oger and Saudi Binladin Group.

This followed delays to payments for projects by the governments.

Read: Saudi Oger seeks payment freeze on $3.5bn local bank debt – sources

SIM sales may also have been hit by reforms to mobile shops last year that made purchasing handsets more difficult.

Read: Expats blamed for failings of Saudi mobile market Saudisation


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