Telcos offer roaming packages for Haj pilgrims
ISLAMABAD: With around 160,000 Pakistanis proceeding to Saudi Arabia for Haj, the telecom companies are vying to capitalise on the potential clientele by offering competitive International Roaming (IR) packages.
The largest network company, Jazz, is offering 5GB internet data for Rs2,000 while Telenor has launched its ‘Hajj Saudia Bundle’ for prepaid users only at Rs799. It included 1GB of internet, 30 minute voice call for both incoming and outgoing and 30 SMS. The package will be valid for 30 days.
Zong 4G was offering international roaming at Rs1,200, with 1GB data, while 3GB data was available at Rs3,300 and the 5GB for Rs5,400 plus tax. The network has even claimed that the IR services will include WhatsApp audio and video calls, which are not available through local operators in Saudi Arabia.
According to Ufone, its IR package will provide unlimited access to WhatsApp calls for unrestricted communication with friends and family back home. The 7GB package for Rs4,000 will come with unlimited WhatsApp calls and messages from Saudi Arabia for 40 days.
Govt partners with Saudi bank to streamline payments for sacrificial animals
The Haj packages were being advertised actively by the telcos mainly because the number of pilgrims has significantly increased compared to the previous three years. In 2022, only 80,000 pilgrims were allowed to perform Haj and there were no pilgrims from Pakistan or anywhere outside Saudi Arabia in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
A senior official of a telecom company said call and data rates were not very attractive in Pakistan and the telecom companies have surplus capacity to offer for any new venture.
Another executive of a telecom company said that IR packages have certain advantages over obtaining a local SIM.
“Most of the pilgrims face a shortage of foreign currency and many with limited knowledge and experience of foreign travels find it difficult to get local SIMs,” the executive added.
Separately, the government has collaborated with a Saudi Arabian bank to provide a payment system for sacrificial animals to Pakistani pilgrims, APP reported.
The pilgrims will have to pay 720 Saudi Riyal to obtain a token for sacrificial animals from mobile vans parked near their residences.