Saudi Arabia, also known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or KSA, has a significant Internet presence, and it is one of the few Arab regions to allow more than one government-owned ISP to provide Internet service. Even though there are several companies licensed to offer Internet service in the KSA, only a few have exercised their right to provide service. Just because all of the ISP’s are not government-owned, this does not mean they are not government-controlled. The KSA boasts one of the strictest regimes in the Arab region.
History of the KSA
In 1902, Ibn Saud waged a military campaign that captured the city of Riyadh and led to the formal establishment of Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud had historical ties to Riyadh and Ibn Saud founded the KSA in 1932. It has grown into the largest Arab nation, encompassing over 2 million square kilometers. The nation occupies a strategic position and it is bordered by no less than eight other nations including Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE.
Because of its proximity to the Persian Gulf and the expansiveness of its borders, the KSA is a country of military importance. This means that the population of Saudi Arabia at any given time includes many military troops and contracted expatriates. There are 9 million foreigners working in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the KSA controls the world’s largest oil reserve and sixth-largest natural gas reserves. This affluence and the presence of expatriates fuel a market for Internet service in the KSA.
Internet in the KSA
The largest ISP in the KSA is managed by the Saudi Telecom Company. The STC remains the major player in broadband Internet service, servicing over 160 million customers worldwide. Unlike many other telecommunications companies in the Arab region, the STC has branched out and established a presence in other nations such as Kuwait, India, and Bahrain.
Because there is such a deep penetration of the Internet in the KSA, the Saudi government chose to license additional ISP’s. At the present time, however, many of these fledgling companies have yet to get off the ground. When they do, these companies will be subject to the same restrictions and monitoring as the STC.
One can find public networks in the KSA, but a large majority of Saudi Internet users can afford service in their homes.
Internet filtering in the KSA
The STC and other ISP’s in the KSA are highly monitored and regulated by a government with little tolerance for those who break the rules. The KSA mainly accomplishes censoring of the Internet through the Saudi Telecom Company. Specific websites can be blocked, and email and chat transmissions can be monitored easily through the State’s servers. The most recent victim of the KSA’s strict regulation is Viber. These regulations should concern anyone accessing the Internet from Saudi Arabia, especially those who are guests working in the country.
At the present time, these are a few of the types of websites which are blocked in the KSA:
- VoIP networks such as Viber. These communications networks are not easily monitored by the State and are also a threat to the nation’s telecom revenue. So far, Skype has survived, but many believe a ban is coming soon.
- Gay, Lesbian, and pornographic websites. These kinds of sex sites are considered a violation of the moral values associated with Islam.
- Dating sites. A strong sense of family values is associated with Islam, and therefore many of these websites are deemed objectionable. Sites like adultfriendfinder.com, match.com etc are blocked.
It is also common to find certain political sites blocked in the KSA. Saudi Arabia has been a hotbed of security concerns in regards to terrorism. This has led to an increased desire to monitor the browsing activities of Internet users in the KSA. The bottom line is that the government in Saudi Arabia can block any website it chooses, without notice, and offer no explanation for the actions they have taken.
Unblocking websites in the KSA
The only genuine way to unblock restricted websites in the KSA is by using a VPN account like the ones we offer. If you use the Internet in Saudi Arabia without a VPN, you can expect your browsing to be heavily censored.
A VPN is very effective in allowing Internet users to access Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, and a host of other services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer which are not available in the KSA. A VPN gives you an added level of security in addition to making these websites available.
On the following page you can read the latest news from Saudi Arabia: KSA NEWS