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Hard luck BB users

Jeddah-based Ghassan Kassabji, managing director, TBWA\Raad\Saudi Arabia

“I am a BlackBerry user, most of my colleagues are and certainly, the majority of Saudi youth carry the device. The suspension of BlackBerry services in the UAE came as a surprise. And today, everyone woke up to read that Saudi Arabia will follow suit.

BlackBerry offers a great service that helps us stay connected and exchange messages while on the go. And the truth is; the younger generation today lost a much-adored social networking tool (Almost 60 per cent of the Saudi population is under 25 years of age). And those who use BlackBerry will feel cut off, disconennected and alienated. The lifeline connecting them with their friends and outer world is now severed.

But, back to a reality check: we live in Saudi Arabia. We respect its laws. The authorities here have a valid point, whether in the UAE or Saudi. Any service provided should be in conformity with regulations, be it for security reasons or merely legal issues. Government authorities do have the right to take whatever action they deem good for the public and the society.

I am quite sure service providers in the kingdom very quickly will come up with alternative solutions and follow Etisalat that offered alternative services that suit the needs of some 700,000 BlackBerry subscribers, and ensure the tempo of their daily communication is not disrupted.

The main priority of any telecom service provider is meeting customer needs and, bottom line, making money. The Saudi telecom authority said it does not stand against the interests of customers as long as the services on offer don’t contradict with rules and regulations.

So, Research In Motion, thank you for giving us a great device. To the telecom providers: we are sure you will come up with solutions and you have the technology and will do so. And to the 500,000 BlackBerry users in Saudi Arabia, hard luck. But we are also sure you will find an alternative quickly.”

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