Arab Advisors Group
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90% of GSM users in Saudi Arabia use SMS, while less than 1.5% connect to the Internet using their mobiles.
Friday, June 4, 2004

A major Arab Advisors Group survey of 202 households in Saudi Arabia provides deep insights into the usage pattern in the Arab World's largest GSM market. The random survey, which was concluded on June 4 2004 and has a 99% confidence level with a 9% margin of error, revealed that a majority of GSM users (over 80%) in Saudi Arabia will switch, or will consider switching, to another GSM operator when it enters the market in 2005, provided that the other network will have better service, coverage, and lower rates.

The survey of GSM users in Saudi Arabia was kick started by the Arab Advisors Group in May 2004. The survey report is available, as of June 7th, for Arab Advisors Group's Subscribers to the Strategic Research Service Annual subscription at US$ 3500 ONLY. Non-Subscribers to Arab Advisors Groups Strategic Research Services can order the report for US$ 4000. Companies that order the survey report receive a delegate pass to Arab Advisors Group's Media and Telecoms Convergence Conference in Amman on June 10, 11. Full details at

"Results from this major survey indicate a widespread adoption of Arabic enabled GSM handsets in Saudi Arabia with 95% of users having handsets that support the Arabic language." Noted Mr. Sami Sunna, Arab Advisors Research Manager. "SMS is widely used with 90% of users using SMS, but mobile Internet is still embryonic at less than 1.5%" Mr. Sunna added.

The survey results also show that 11% of GSM users in Saudi Arabia have voted on TV shows using their GSM phone. GSM users in Saudi also rely on TV ads more than other forms of media for information on telecom services and products.

Some 42% of GSM users in Saudi Arabia buy second hand GSM handsets. Of the total handset base, Nokia commands a major market dominance. Still, room is open for other handsets as a good 40% of GSM users in Saudi switch their handsets within a year or less from purchase. Many GSM users in Saudi do not know the capabilities of their handsets with over 33% not knowing of their handset supports GPRS and a further 25% not knowing if their handsets support MMS.

"The survey results and details are indispensable for any company that is interested in the Saudi market" Jawad Abbassi, Arab Advisors Group's Founder and President said. "This major survey is part of Arab Advisors commitment to providing reliable primary research on the Arab World's markets in order to help all stakeholders with better understanding of the market dynamics at play. With the ongoing liberalization of the Saudi GSM market, the results of this survey are of great relevance and importance to all companies bidding for the second Saudi GSM license as well as for Saudi Telecom itself". Mr. Abbassi added.

The survey covers 202 individuals from different households in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam and Dhahran. The respondents are all GSM users and are divided into 112 males and 88 females. The sample is further divided into 141 Saudis and 61 non-Saudis. To mirror the demographic situation fully, the sample also corresponds to the age distribution of the Saudi population.

The survey has 50 detailed questions that address the following matters. Please feel free to request the survey questions from the Arab Advisors Group.

Areas covered in the survey are:

Perceptions of Saudi Telecom services and offers
Level of Satisfaction with Saudi Telecom
Propensity to use a second GSM operator when one is available in Saudi Arabia
Handset choices and brands
Features and technologies supported by handsets
Handset replacement cycles
Use of SMS and Value added services
Voice Usage levels
Types of packages subscribed to
Effective Media channels for consumer choices
Information on households of respondents
And much more!

The survey report statistically analyzes and cross-tabulates all the questions. The analysis includes Arab Advisors Group's insights and expertise on the Saudi Arabian market, the Arab World's largest telecom market.

The Arab Advisors Group's team of analysts in the region has already produced more than 250 reports on the Arab World's communications and media markets. The reports can be purchased individually or received through an annual subscription to Arab Advisors Group’s ( Strategic Research Services (Media and Telecom). To date, Arab Advisors Group has served more than 150 global and regional companies by providing reliable research analysis and forecasts of Arab communications markets to these clients.

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