In preparation for the upcoming Haj pilgrimage, telecom companies in Pakistan are offering competitive International Roaming (IR) packages to cater to the needs of around 160,000 Pakistanis traveling to Saudi Arabia. The surge in potential clientele has prompted companies like Jazz, Telenor, Zong 4G, and Ufone to roll out attractive packages to capture this market.
Jazz, the largest network company, is offering a 5GB internet data package for Rs2,000. Telenor has introduced its ‘Hajj Saudia Bundle’ exclusively for prepaid users, priced at Rs799. This bundle includes 1GB of internet data, 30 minutes of voice calls (incoming and outgoing), and 30 SMS, valid for 30 days.
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Zong 4G is providing international roaming services at Rs1,200 for 1GB data, with options for 3GB data at Rs3,300 and 5GB data at Rs5,400 plus tax. Notably, Zong 4G has also claimed to offer WhatsApp audio and video calls, a service not available through local operators in Saudi Arabia.
Ufone has introduced an IR package that offers unlimited access to WhatsApp calls, ensuring unrestricted communication with friends and family back home. Their 7GB package, priced at Rs4,000, provides unlimited WhatsApp calls and messages from Saudi Arabia for 40 days.
These telecom companies have actively promoted their Haj packages due to the significant increase in the number of pilgrims compared to the past three years. With only 80,000 pilgrims allowed in 2022 and no pilgrims from Pakistan or abroad in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the current surge presents a lucrative opportunity for telecom providers.
Telecom executives have cited several advantages of IR packages over obtaining local SIM cards. Many pilgrims face challenges due to a shortage of foreign currency and lack of experience in foreign travel, making it difficult for them to acquire local SIMs.
In a related development, the government has partnered with a Saudi Arabian bank to streamline payments for sacrificial animals. Pakistani pilgrims will be able to obtain tokens for sacrificial animals by paying 720 Saudi Riyal through mobile vans parked near their residences, as reported by APP.
As the Haj season approaches, telecom companies and the government are taking steps to enhance the pilgrimage experience for Pakistani pilgrims, ensuring convenient communication and smooth transactions during their journey.