There are only two mobile phone networks in Saudi Arabia: Al Jawal is "the Daddy", in that it is owned by Saudi Telecom and is by far the larger of the two, and then there's Mobily, which started off at about the same time we arrived here less than two years ago. Mobily is the new young hopeful, and probably the faster growing of the two.
Mobily tries to project a young, modern image, and goes to great lengths to attract young Saudis in its advertising, come up with attractive price plans and so on. I must have been wooed by their marketing because I chose Mobily for the childrens' phones, and therefore I get two bills from them every couple of months (the price plans here are for two months rather than monthly -- I've never understood why). The problem with these bills is that they are in Arabic, so I can't read them. I've asked Mobily to send my bills in English several times, and if you look up my customer record in their database it says "Requested Bill Language = English" on the screen, but when the bills arrive they're still in Arabic. Oh well, I can always go into one of their stores to pay, and the helpful staff will tell me how much I owe.
One thing that amuses me about these bills is the little advert they always stick in the envelope. Every time there's an A4 sheet advertising something or other -- I can't tell what -- but the pictures are often quite funny. Take a look at the latest one for example:
Ad Exec #1: What image can we come up with to tell our customers that the whole Mobily team is here to support them, and that they'll always have our power behind them?
Ad Exec #2: Erm.... I know! Let's use a Formula 1 theme!
#1: Formula 1.. what's that?
#2: They have it in Bahrain and now Abu Dhabi too. It's a car race. We can have a picture of a pit crew.
#1: A what?
#2: A pit crew. It's a gang of technicians whose job is to refresh the car's fuel and tyres as quickly as possible. Some of them can do it in under seven seconds!
#1: I'm not quite following you. What does that have to do with mobile communications?
#2: Well, nothing directly, but it's a glamorous, fast-paced world that our young customers will want to be associated with.
#1: Maybe, but I'm not sure they'll get the message from a picture of a racing car.
#2: No no, you don't understand. That's just it! We'll brush out the car and replace it with a man in a thobe sitting in an office chair surfing the net on his laptop.
#1: What's that guy with the big hose doing? It looks like he's about to spray petrol over the guy's foot!
#2: Umm, well... er... that hose... could symbolise the information superhighway!
#1: Brilliant! Let's do it!
It wouldn't surprise me to see the job of Advertising Manager for Mobily in the Situations Vacant section of tomorrow's Arab News.