Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Etihad Jawraa (Lebara) has launched commercial services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), piggybacking on Etihad Etisalat’s (Mobily’s) network. The operator says it is targeting migrant communities with its pay-as-you-go SIM deals and related products; TeleGeography notes that the country is home to more than eight million foreign workers. Fadi Kawar, CEO of Lebara KSA, commented: ‘One of Lebara’s main objectives in KSA is to bridge the gap and provide more affordable international and local voice, as well as data services for our market segments in KSA, while maintaining high quality levels.’
As previously noted by CommsUpdate, in June 2013 Saudi Arabia’s telecoms watchdog the Communications and IT Commission (CITC) shortlisted three companies for MVNO licences, including Lebara in partnership with second-placed cellco Mobily. The MVNO initially planned to launch in March 2014, but it subsequently postponed the commercial deployment of its services, allegedly due to interconnection issues with other operators; however, it was beaten to the punch by rival Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia, which launched its commercial offering over Saudi Telecom Company’s (STC’s) network in September 2014 via two brands – Virgin, targeting the youth market (which comprises nearly half of the population), and FRiENDi Mobile, aimed at expatriates in the country.