Saudi Arabia – Pre-Qualification for Data Services Licensing

In November 2003, the Saudi Arabian telecommunications regulator, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (“CITC”), announced its intention to issue two data telecommunications services licences.  These licences would permit their holders to build national data telecommunications services networks and to offer data telecommunications services in Saudi Arabia.  The licensing process designed by the CITC included a pre-qualification stage.

In January 2004, the CITC issued a Request for Pre-Qualification (“RFPQ”) for the data telecommunications services licensing process.  The RFPQ outlines the procedures that govern the pre-qualification phase of the licensing process.    Persons who were interested in participating in the data services licensing process were required to seek to pre-qualify by submitting a Response to the RFPQ in accordance with the procedures contained in that document.  Such persons were also required to pay the RFPQ fee.

The RFPQ stipulates that Responses must demonstrate that the candidate has the following in order to pre-qualify:

·        appropriate technical and operational experience and capabilities for operating telecommunications networks;

·        appropriate commercial experience and capabilities for running a telecommunications services company;

·        adequate financial resources;  and

·        the commitment to comply with the CITC statutes and all relevant and applicable Saudi laws and regulations.

The RFPQ provides specific details about how a candidate’s compliance with these requirements would be determined.  The RFPQ also includes a list of information requirements with which candidates were required comply in order to be considered for pre-qualification.  These requirements generally pertain to providing information about the candidate, including, for example, information about the corporate structure of the candidate; contact information; the place of domicile; annual financial statements; evidence of due constitution; and information about the consortium arrangements and members, if applicable.

According to the RFPQ, the CITC would develop a list of candidates eligible to apply for the data services licences after reviewing the Responses.  Pre-qualified candidates would then be eligible to purchase a copy of the Request for Applications and a draft data telecommunications services licence upon signing a confidentiality agreement and paying the requisite fee.

The RFPQ also contains a number of other provisions that address a variety of issues.  These issues include, inter alia:

·        cross-ownership;

·        disqualification prior to the issuance of the data services licence, and disqualification subsequent to the issue of licence; 

·        verification of information, and verification and use of information in the Responses;

·        costs of RFPQ Response preparation;

·        a reservation of CITC rights;

·        various legal and formal requirements, such as provisions concerning the governing law, dispute resolution procedures, and  language; 

·        the schedule of the pre-qualification process;

·        the deadline for submitting a Response and the RFPQ fee;

·        questions concerning the RFPQ;  and

·        correspondence with the CITC.


The pre-qualification phase featured an opportunity to ask the CITC questions about the data telecommunications licensing process and the data telecommunications services licence itself.  Candidates posed a wide variety of questions, which were then answered by the CITC.  The questions and answers were distributed to all candidates and published on the CITC’s website.  A link to the document containing these questions and answers is set out below.



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