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Know Your Customer

Riyadh: Pre-Registered Card

In most countries consumers can buy pre-paid cards after presenting some form of identification, so-called KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements. In Saudi Arabia that identification is the iqama,resident’s card which is then linked to that SIM card number – officially the customer needs to show that card every time they top-up credit. One foreigner can be associated with three phone numbers, locals can be associated with ten.

Riyadh: SIM + ID

How does the street react to such stringent requirements? By pre-assigning SIM cards with resident’s permits – seen printed on each card. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The backdrop to this is that the Saudi authorities have deported and ~1 million migrant workers. Photo from Little Sudan.