Saudi Arabian telcos Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) and Zain Saudi Arabia, who have been embroiled in a payment dispute since last week, have proceeded to the next stage of the arbitration process. According to a press release published on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) website, the two operators have selected their respective arbitrators, which in turn have appointed an umpire. At the first hearing, scheduled to take place on 13 December 2014, the arbitration panel will determine the procedures and duration of the arbitration process; further, Mobily will present its demands and supporting documentation, while Zain Saudi will submit its jurisdictional and substantive defences.
As reported by CommsUpdate last week, Mobily requested a referral to arbitration with regards to receivables due under an agreement signed with rival Zain Saudi on 6 May 2008. Mobily disclosed that by 30 November 2013, Zain owed it SAR2.2 billion (USD586.3 million) for the provision of national roaming, site sharing, transmission links and international traffic; the company said that it could not reach an amicable settlement with its rival for the amount due, so its management decided to revert back to arbitration. For its part, Zain Saudi has deemed Mobily’s claims as ‘unfounded’, with Hassan Kabbani, Zain Saudi’s chief executive, cited as saying: ‘We have been asking Mobily to provide documentation that could justify this claim and so far they have failed to do so – these claims are not valid … It is something very serious – there is no way this amount is feasible or reasonable.’