Saudi Arabia imposes ban on BlackBerry messaging service

Posted on Aug 3, 2010 2:57 AM by
BlackBerry that had become teenager’s smart cellular phone of choice is accused of posing social security risks. Are you a BlackBerry user? Well, here’s the bad news – Saudi Arabia’s Telecoms (STC) regulator has imposed a ban on BlackBerry’s messenger service in the Arab nation!

So why enforce a BAN? Unlike other smart phones, BlackBerry devices utilize a system that sents encrypted messages through company servers abroad, due to which the two Gulf nations cannot monitor data for illegal activity.

BlackBerry- Canadian maker “Research in Motion” (RIM), has been facing threats for quiet a while. In Saudi Arabia, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) cited it would take action against RIM if it did not locate its servers in the country. However, RIM refused.

A year ago UAE was accused of infecting BlackBerry handsets with spyware. At that time RIM told its customers that Etisalat’s performance enhancing patch was not designed to improve performance of BlackBerry, but rather to send received messages back to a central server. When the function of the software was discovered the government distanced itself from Etisalat and told users to remove the update.

UAE was the first to explicitly announce an outright ban on BlackBerry’s key services. Unlike UAE where users will be barred from accessing email, web browsing and instant messaging from October’11 this year, Saudi Arabia will only block BlackBerry’s Instant Messaging (IM) service starting this month.

According to Abdulrahman Mazi, a Saudi Telecom Board Member the lock down is intended to put pressure on RIM to take steps to release data from user communications when required.

Doing business was a lot faster and efficient with BlackBerry, the ban is a disappointment! UAE's telecoms operators – Etisalat and du have informed BlackBerry customers of their decision by text. There are roughly half a million BlackBerry users in the emirate and around hundred thousand users in the kingdom. Chances are that the ban would spread across the Gulf!

P.S: The author has no commercial interest in any of the companies mentioned.
The information is as up-to-date as possible at the time of writing.



  1. Hi to you there .
    With all my respect to your company, If this matter accurd in Israel there will be no fuss regarding this BAN, If a country feels that its security could be damaged by such a thing , then they have thier full right to take action to stop any leake out in this case to BAN the Black Berry.

  2. By the way. I think it is very OK if the Saudi authorities will BAN this product to deffend thier own country security against any spys or what ever that may be. With all my respect to the Kingdom . 8 (from Denmark)

  3. Yes Hamada, I totally respect the Kingdoms decision. There are plenty of blackberry users amongst us. Let’s just hope RIM comes up with reconciliation.

  4. well, i would like to thank you for posting this issue in English, sometimes i feel desperate because of the lack of the Arabic issues in English. this issue have two sides that must be studied before giving our final judgment. the first side is the big demand on this service especially from the youngsters. the second side we have to observe the terrorist's horrible attacks against Saudi people and the foreigner. controlling the internet service in the phones is a hard job to do, instead they can simply whether they can have full access to suspicious messages or to stop it.


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