Khaled rambles technology, tea/coffee, consumer rights and other interest from Saudi Arabia

February 27, 2012

Windows Phone Beats Android, Announces Official App Market for Saudi Arabia, UAE

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , — Khaled A. @ 8:44 pm

أعلنت مايكروسوفت رسمياً أنه سيتم إفتتاح متجر لتطبيقات ويندوز فون رسمي في المملكة العربية السعودية و عدد من الدول الشهر القادم! وينكم يا قوقل أعطونا وجه!

In a post on the Windows Phone Dev Blog, Joe Belfiore announced that in March Microsoft will launch an official app marketplace for customers in 23 countries, including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The full 23 country list includes:

Bahrain, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Saudi Arabia and UAE were ignored by Google’s Android Marketplace for a very long time, forcing users to root to enable purchasing of apps.

While Arabic isn’t officially supported on Windows Phone 7 it can read Arabic just fine unlike Android 2.3 devices. Don’t ask about ICS as it exists on only 2 phones.

Microsoft will launch the market in March 2012 and I should note that Apple launched the Saudi Arabia iTunes App Store in July 2008.

Thanks @mhmd!

[image credit: Nokia Lumia 610 at MWC 2012]

February 6, 2012

list of #MobilySpam companies قائمة الشركات الرسائل المزعجة عبر شبكة موبايلي

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 2:03 pm

هذه قائمة متجددة بصور لرسائل الشركات التي ترسل رسائل مزعجة عبر الجوال SMS و تستخدم شبكة موبايلي. في العادة يتم نشرها في تويتر مع التاق #MobilySpam.

This will be an updated list of SMS spammers using Mobily’s network. Usually they are tagged on Twitter with #MobilySpam.

mobily-spam-ksyneochair

جامعة الملك سعود

mobily-spam-625555

اشعار: شركة العلم

mobily-spam-606666

مجهول

شارك رسائلك (مع صورة) في الردود!

Share your SMS with a screenshot in the comments!

February 1, 2012

Limited Offer: #Mobily offering “unlimited” Connect for 175 SR

Filed under: News — Tags: , — Khaled A. @ 1:12 pm

I will never understand why Mobily is charging regular phone users 350SR for “unlimited” Internet access while “Connect” owners (Data only SIM card) get to pay half that? Unlimited is subject to “fair use” policy, you will only get 1GB daily at full speed then you get throttled. Just like that.

The 175SR/month is a *limited time* offer available from Jan 28th to Feb 27th. I should also clarify that the price will go back to 350SR most likely. However I’ll still pay 200SR for 5GB while Connect owners will pay 100SR only.

Mobily Logo

Here is Mobily’s Arabic press release:

خفضت شركة اتحاد اتصالات (موبايلي) من قيمة الاشتراك الشهري لباقات (الكنكت) المسبقة الدفع والمفوترة للمشتركين الجدد إلى النصف، وذلك في عرض خاص طرحته الشركة ابتداء من يوم السبت الماضي 28 يناير 2012م ويستمر حتى 27 فبراير من هذا الشهر.

وقالت “موبايلي” أن قيمة الاشتراك الشهري في باقة 5 جيجابايت قد انخفضت إلى 50 ريال فيما انخفضت قيمة الاشتراك الشهري في باقة الاستخدام اللامحدود إلى 175 ريال، فيما شمل العرض باقات (كنكت) لاب توب والتي توفر العديد من الخيارات للمشتركين للاتصال بشبكة الإنترنت ابتداء من سرعة 7.2 ميجابت بالثانية و 21.6 ميجابت بالثانية بالإضافة إلى سرعة 42 ميجابت بالثانية والتي تعمل على شبكة HSPA+ ذروة الجيل الثالث المطور.

وأشارت “موبايلي” إلى أنها أتاحت هذا العرض المميز في جميع فروعها المنتشرة في جميع مناطق المملكة، مما سهل على الراغبين في الاستفادة منه الحصول عليه، ومتابعة أعمالهم من خلال أحدث شبكة اتصالات في المنطقة.

وتعمد “موبايلي” بين وقت وآخر على إثراء حياة مشتركيها بالعروض المميزة على جميع الخدمات التي تقدمها، ومن ضمنها باقات (الكنكت)، مما أبقاهم على اتصال دائم بالانترنت من خلال أفضل الأسعار.

وتعد “موبايلي” اليوم رائدة النطاق العريض بشقيه الثابت والمتحرك في المنطقة، وعززت من ريادتها امتلاكها لأكبر بنية تحتية تحتوي على أحدث ما توصلت إليه التقنية في العالم، مما ضمن لها تقديم خدماتها بجودة واعتمادية عاليه، كما وضعت “موبايلي” اسمها على قائمة الشركات التي تمتلك أكبر شبكة للجيل الثالث المطور في المنطقة بتغطيتها 94% من مناطق المأهولة بالسكان، وقد حظيت بنية “موبايلي” التحتية المتطورة باهتمام الشركات العالمية التي رأت فيها نموذج يضيف لها قراءة واقعية لمستقبل قطاع الاتصالات.

I managed to find one spot in Riyadh where HSPA+ speed reached 9mbps. Anyone managed to find a location with speeds up to 42mbps?

December 3, 2011

#noshaya: Demanding a better return policy

Filed under: News — Tags: , — Khaled A. @ 1:46 pm

If you bought something you didn’t like you get to return it to most stores for a replacement or refund. In Saudi Arabia we have the “البضاعة المباعة لا ترد و لا تستبدل” policy, sold items cannot be returned nor replaced. It’s thanks to the lack of any real consumer protection.

Alshaya” is a well-know retailer in the region with many franchises such as Starbucks. Alshaya’s previous return policy allowed for return or replace (limited though). They have changed it to be strictly “no refund” and if you want to return an item you will be given “store credit”. People are upset and I simply can’t blame them. Why? Let’s compare with how “major” brands deal with “product returns” around the world:

Walmart:

Most store items can be exchanged or refunded with a receipt within 90 days of purchase

Amazon has an extensive policy page

Home Depot, not related to Office Depot:

If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, please follow the guidelines detailed below and we will be happy to help you to return your purchase.

Staples:

If you’re not 100% satisfied with your Staples purchase, return it for any reason.

I love this bit:

No matter when you made your purchase, you can return office supplies to us for a full refund, including Staples® brand office products.

Kmart

Just search google for “return policy” for many examples.

There is a movement on twitter to boycott alshaya, simply search for this hash tag: #noshaya.

Alshaya “brands” are:

debenhams mothercare next Bhs H&M Topshop Topman River Island Oasis Coast Oltre Motivi Claire’s Limited Too Evans Dorothy Perkins

Update: Sorry about the repeating text. I blame STC.

March 21, 2011

Hopefully Good News for Gitex Saudi Arabia 2011

Filed under: Events — Tags: , , , , , — Khaled A. @ 1:48 pm

When was the last time I talked about Gitex Saudi Arabia? Probably back when I posted that Gitex Riyadh isn’t recognized by GITEX.

So what’s special about this year’s Gitex Saudi Arabia? For starters it won’t be in April but on 16 – 19 May 2011, right after my birthday… It’s still an “all in one” event combining:

These 3 events will be held at the “new” Riyadh Expo Center (gowalla link). Let’s just hope it rains because the new building is well made and can handle a few rain drops.

Oh. Guess not. From the last day of Riyadh Book Fair.

Anyway back to the “good news”.

I got my hands on the floor plan for Gitex Saudi Arabia 2011 and I was shocked at what I found… or did not find. Here’s Gitex Riyadh 2010 floor plan:

Dominated by STC and Mobily, the biggest telecom companies in Saudi Arabia.

Now compare it to Gitex Saudi Arabia 2011 floor plan:

Just what is going on? Has STC and Mobily finally started to think that it’s better to spend money on improving infrastructure and services than marketing and wasting valuable floor space?!

I am actually looking forward to visit Gitex Riyadh this year!

February 14, 2011

#SaudiValentine and overreactions

Filed under: General — Tags: , — Khaled A. @ 12:16 pm

I really don’t care about Valentine. But I find the reaction to it in Saudi Arabia is excessive, on both sides.

The color red is banned and apparently Baskin Robbin’s Love Potion 31 icecream is also banned. On the other hand you got the people who think Valentine a big deal.

These reactions are interesting and being posted on twitter with the tag #SaudiValentine, make sure to share your tweets there.

It will be just another day, just don’t wear your red shomag (head gear).

Found image via Rami Taibah’s Blog.

January 27, 2011

Jeddah Rain Videos and STC slowness

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 6:29 pm

Quick post, I can’t really post anything else thanks to the slow Internet speed.

First of all, it rained heavily in Jeddah yesterday January 26th. Unfortunately it was chaotic and thanks to twitter (tag #JeddahRain) people managed to help each other.

I have compiled a playlist on youtube that you can find here:

Today, Thursday, every STC Internet connection (DSL and 3G) is slow to a crawl! Mobily and others are fine apparently. Not sure what caused it but it’s most likely had something to do with JeddahRain.

December 17, 2010

Saudi man arrested for carrying snakes on a plane, and 2 parrots and a squirrel

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 12:58 pm

A Saudi man was arrested in the UAE for carrying ****** snakes on a ****** plane! Hilarious! Thanks Ahmed Darweesh for the link!

Via The National:

Abu Dhabi // A passenger has been arrested at Abu Dhabi airport after spending more than eight hours with a bag of snakes on a plane.

The Saudi passenger was said to have been carrying four snakes, two parrots and a squirrel in his hand luggage.

He was caught at the first security checkpoint after arriving at Abu Dhabi International Airport on Etihad Airlines flight EY471 from Jakarta, which landed in the capital shortly before midnight on Thursday.

The animals were not licensed for international transport. They had no health certification, nor confirmation that they were not on any endangered list.

Abu Dhabi police officials expressed surprise that the passenger had cleared security at Jakarta with the animals.

Khamis al Marar, the acting director general of security affairs and ports in Abu Dhabi, stressed that carrying animals on board is strictly prohibited. In this case, other passengers’ safety was at risk, he said.

He added that licensed animals had to travel in specially designed boxes, which should be stored in the aircraft’s hold.

However, it is not the first time unauthorised reptiles have made their way into the passenger cabin of an Abu Dhabi-bound flight.

In August last year, a baby lizard caused panic on a flight from Cairo after it was found wandering along the aisle, having worked its way free of the bag in which it had been smuggled.

Some animal traffickers go even further. A man was arrested in February last year after flying from Dubai to Melbourne with two live pigeons stuffed inside his pants.

November 29, 2010

Google fails in Saudi Arabia

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , , , — Khaled A. @ 1:03 pm

Update: Google updated Riyadh’s satellite images to something from late 2010. The maps however are still outdated.

I complained many times about the extremely useless and out of date Google Maps for Saudi Arabia: roads are from 2004 and you can’t even get basic directions! Allright, Google have problems with all the red tape, we get that. But I was shocked to see Microsoft Bing Maps already supporting very recent maps of Saudi Arabia.

Here’s an example, Al Oruba st intersection with Prince Turki st, in 2004/2005 a northern road was constructed turning it from a T-shape intersection to a normal intersection. Here’s the satellite images on Google Maps:

Now here’s the regular map on Google Maps. 6 years later and it’s still the same:

Now let’s have a look at Microsoft Bing Maps:

Bing Maps is up to date with the Saudi map, how come Google isn’t? Is Google being denied?

If Google allowed us to use the Google Map Maker it would not have happened.

The Bing Maps do not have any points of interest but that didn’t stop Microsoft from allowing us to use navigation on the map! Google Maps can’t figure a simple straight line:

While Bing is EXTREMELY USEFUL even without points of interest:

Another example of Google’s failure in the region: the lack of an Android Market in Saudi Arabia. This is Motorola’s response to @Yalmisfer when he asked why is his Motorola Milestone Android phone is lacking an Android Marketplace:

Android Market was removed per requirements of Google in the individual Arabic regions such as UAE, Egypt, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The same is happening with the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Samsung Galaxy S apparently. Google doesn’t need to release an Arabic Android market, they don’t even support Arabic language natively in Android until now!

@Yalmisfer also got to talk with Samsung Middle East:

I got a call from the firm doing the PR for ME for Galaxy and they are asking me to try it and write a review about, I asked them and the answer was No market for Middle East

My rant is over.

August 8, 2010

Blackberry services is back

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — Khaled A. @ 11:20 am

That was fast. From Engadget:

It took two long years for India to (allegedly) tap BlackBerry traffic, but Saudi Arabia may not have to wait nearly as long; the Wall Street Journal reports that RIM has all but agreed to set up a local server in the country. While we’ve no details yet on what the deal entails, an unnamed Saudi telecom official said negotiations are already in the final stages. Sorry, RIM, but it looks like Saudi Arabia called your bluff. We imagine the company will deny any potential for government snooping in short order… and both Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates will start planning their own attempts to wrest away control. We’ll let you know where this house of cards falls.

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