Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Call centers in Saudi Arabia in crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat -Continuing closures of call centers across Saudi Arabia after Saudi Telecom sharply lowered the price of international telephone calls is endangering the livelihood of over 16000 employees who work at 4000 centers spread around the Kingdom.

Yahia al Jhfaly, head of a company that owns a number of centers in the eastern region told Asharq Al Awsat, “Saudi Telecom continues to neglect this sector deliberately despite receiving 80% of the revenue from each center.” He warned the Company needed to “reconsider investors’ profit margins as they pay the rent and the workforce’s salaries but only receive 20% of the income.”

In Saudi Arabia, he indicated, “Only young people work in call centers. If the neglect of the sector continues, these employees are likely to lose their jobs. Unemployment will rise and many will lose their only source of income.”

His dire predictions were echoed by Sadeq al Abdaly an agent for investors in the sector, who said, “I rely on call centers as my only source of income. I have been working in this field now for four years and have 25 young Saudi men working for me, given that this line of work does not require specific qualifications.” In a plea to the Saudi Labor Minister, Dr. Ghazi al Gossaibi, the agent asked the government, to “save the sector from ruin and its employees from unemployment.” He warned that, “If Saudi Telecom does not change its policies, we will find ourselves obliged to take it to court to save our jobs and income.”

In response to these accusations, Abdullah al Shahri who heads the media department at Saudi Telecom said, “We stopped issuing permits for new call centers four years ago.” He added, “We have no intention of renegotiating each party’s profit margin. Saudi Telecom takes 80% of the revenue but in recent years, any income form unused minutes has been given to the call centers.”

He added, “Lowering the tariffs of international phone calls have an impact on call centers and our company as more people prefer to call abroad from their mobile phones.”

The price reductions initiated by Saudi Telecom have drastically affected the income of call centers around the Kingdom and turned many into loss-making businesses to the extent that many lay off staff or stopped trading.