A photographer known as the “Revolution’s Journalist” for documenting local protests was shot dead during a police raid on his neighbor’s home in February.
Saudi Arabia is connected to the internet through two country-level data services providers, the Integrated Telecom Company and Bayanat al-Oula for Network Services, up from a single gateway in years past.These servers, which contain long lists of blocked sites, are placed between the state-owned internet backbone and global servers.Tensions between technological advancement and religious dogma continue to characterize the online sphere in Saudi Arabia.Social media has opened a new space for public interaction between Saudis, even aiding in matchmaking between men and women in the conservative country. As use of Twitter and You Tube in particular reached some of the highest levels in the world, Saudis have employed online tools to highlight government corruption, discuss economic and social issues, and, in more limited cases, call attention to human rights violations.Internet penetration is highest in major cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah, as well as in the oil-rich Eastern Province.
Residents of provinces such as Jizan in the south and Ha’il in the north are the least likely to use the internet, while young Saudis make up the majority of the user population throughout the country. Arabic content is widely available, as are Arabic versions of applications such as chat rooms, discussion forums, and social media sites.All forms of internet and mobile phone access are available in the country, including fiber-optic networks (FTTx), third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) mobile networks, internet via satellite, and High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) technologies.In a sign that the government itself realizes the crucial role of Twitter, King Abdullah’s chief of royal court and gatekeeper, Khalid al-Tuwaijir, in March 2014 reactivated his defunct Twitter account.The number of ISPs in the country rose from 23 in 2005 to 36 in 2011. Broadband and mobile phone services are provided by the three largest telecommunications companies in the Middle East: Saudi Telecom Company (Saudi Arabia), Mobily (owned by Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates), and Zain (Kuwait).Internet cafes, once prevalent, have become less popular in recent years due to the broad availability and affordability of home broadband access.Monthly expenditure on 4G broadband ranges from between SAR 55 () for a 2GB allowance to SAR 146 () for a family plan of 60 GB. Household internet plus television packages with fiber-optic connections range from SAR 300 for speeds of 25 Mbps to SAR 800 for 200 Mbps. Mobile broadband use is even higher, with a penetration rate of 78.3 percent.