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Zain starts mobile operations in KSA

Saudi Arabia will become part of Zain’s One Network from the start of operations.

Zain will start mobile operations in the Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, with an operation initially covering 53% of the population in 36 cities. Zain, which will compete with incumbent operator STC and mobile operator Mobily, said coverage will be expanded to rest of the country in stages over the next year. The remaining coverage area will be attained initially through a complementary countrywide roaming service.

Zain, which has invested some US$1.5 billion in the network, will introduce high-speed 3.5G broadband technology to about half of the Saudi population offering services including television, video-calling, multimedia content and fast internet access.

The operation will also be part of Zain’s One Network – which allows users to make international calls to other Zain phones at local rates – from the start of operations.

“We intend to fulfil our promise to offer the community world-class telecom services,” said Dr Saad Al Barrak, CEO, Zain Group. “Coupled with the impressive economic growth that the Kingdom is experiencing, we are confident that all our stakeholders in the Kingdom and beyond will reap excellent rewards.

“The attractiveness of and continual expansion of the ‘One Network’ will play a key role in Zain attaining its year 2011 targets of attaining 150 million customers and being a top-ten global mobile operator,” he added.

Zain paid $6.1 billion for the third Saudi mobile phone licence last year, is unlikely to begin reaping gains from its investments until 2009.

Zain Saudi Arabia is listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange. Zain Group is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange.