As the largest telecommunications market in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia also stands out as one of the region’s most competitive markets. Mobile subscription penetration rates are among the highest in the world, standing at close to 200% of the population. Furthermore, smartphone sales grew 154% in 2010, bringing their share of the hardware market to 32%, while rising demand for tablet computers has eaten into sales of traditional PCs. This, in turn, is impacting levels of internet use; the proportion of individuals using the internet in the Kingdom stood at 47.5% in 2011, up from 41% the previous year and from 19.46% five years previously. This is boosting government efforts at addressing concerns over the relative paucity of Arabic-language content on the internet. Looking ahead, internet use, as well as the hardware and IT services market, look set to continue to grow, with state investment likely to drive growth in services in particular.
This chapter includes an interview with Ghassan Al Shibl, CEO, Advanced Electronics Company.