As part of the Saudi Arabian government's crackdown on people making unauthorised cheap calls on the internet, five Indians have been arrested for selling internet telephone cards, Arab News reported on Wednesday.
Sulaiman Kardan, Naushad Kardan, Jalil Kardan, Shakeer Noramochi and Ashraf Noramochi were arrested after police raided their house in Jeddah where they were running a voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) calling business. Cards valued at 23,000 Saudi riyals were seized in the raid, the Arab News reported.
The move comes a week after Saudi Arabia's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) banned VoIP firm Viber in the country.
Expatriates in that Gulf nation prefer using VoIP for making calls to their home countries as it is cheaper than making calls through services offered by telecom operators.
As a result, the three major telecom operators in Saudi Arabia - STP, Zain and Mobily - were losing millions in revenue.
Most expatriates from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Philippines prefer using VoIP to call their families back home. This, despite the Saudi telecom operators offering big discounts on calls to these Asian countries, sometimes up to 50%.
Telecom operators and internet service providers in that country are now resorting to using VoIP blocking software to protect their revenues.
There are around two million expatriate Indians in Saudi Arabia, many of them blue collar workers.