Saudi Arabia's communication industry has been revolutionized. It is very common to see people carrying smartphones. Cell-phone coverage is relatively good depending on the provider. STC is the oldest cellular provider and delivers the best coverage.
Available services: All providers have options for Internet usage, BlackBerry services, iPhone services, or anything else one may require. Internet access today is possible in many places outside homes and offices. Speeds vary according to service providers and the package being used. Wi-Fi is readily available in coffee shops as well as most shopping malls and even many restaurants. Most large corporations and businesses prefer to maintain high-speed Internet connections.
Preferred modes of communication
Saudi culture is a high-context culture, which means that people depend largely on nonverbal clues to augment their verbal communication. Communicating through technology makes it difficult or impossible to read this more subtle form of communication. As a result, face-to-face communication is generally necessary to develop good relationships with your Saudi counterparts.
When it is not possible to meet face to face, the second best option is a call on the cell phone. If that also is not possible, then e-mail becomes the last option — but it is always best to follow up with a phone call.
Telephones & conference calls
If it is not possible to meet in person, a phone call is your next best option. A phone call is seen as more personal than a fax or e-mail and implies interest in the relationship. In addition, the tone of voice conveys more than the written word to many Saudis.
Cell phones: ("mobiles") are popular. It has become very common for Saudis to give out their cellphone numbers to their business counterparts. While away from the office, most Saudis depend heavily on their cell phones to conduct business, along with sending and receiving e-mails. It is important that foreign businesspeople are careful about contacting Saudi colleagues outside of business hours, although some Saudis do not mind as long as it is not during prayer times, dinnertime, or after they have gone to sleep.
Voicemail: is available in most large companies, but is not always utilized. Many Saudis would rather talk to a person and may be reluctant to leave a voicemail. It is more common to leave a message with a secretary or to send a text message than to leave a voicemail.
E-mail & Internet
Most large companies provide excellent Internet service for their employees. E-mail is heavily used within large companies among the staff and to stay connected with international counterparts on a daily basis.
E-mails are usually monitored for size and viral attachments.
It is also common in many offices to use Skype for videoconferencing purposes. Very good Internet connections are required for such services.
Most verbal communication within companies is in Arabic. E-mails and messages in larger companies tend to be in English. Most communication with the government will be in Arabic.
Calendar: Paperwork should include both the Western (Gregorian) and Arabic (lunar Hijri) calendar dates. It is advisable to check which system Saudi associates use. Even newspapers will have both dates printed on them.