Kuwait mobile telecommunications company, Zain Group has launched the Middle East region’s largest 5G network in Saudi Arabia. Zain KSA, the group’s regional division will deploy 5G services through its network of 2,000 towers across 20 Saudi cities in the first phase. This will gradually expand to 2,600 towers across 26 Saudi cities by the end of 2019.

The move is expected to help Saudi Arabia realise its digital transformation goals specified in the Saudi Vision 2030, the country’s plan to reduce its dependence on oil by diversifying its economy. In this regard, Bader Al Kharafi, CEO at Zain Group was cited in the company press release as saying “5G will bring substantial change for the Kingdom’s telecom industry, creating new business models and unlocking opportunities for many sectors.” He further said that 5G would help contribute significantly to Saudi Arabia’s economy and create thousands of new jobs.

Zain KSA has signed a three year deal with Nokia for this 5G roll out. It will use the Finnish electronics giant’s end-to-end portfolio solutions for same.

Meanwhile Zain KSA said that the new 5G service, which will be ten times faster than the current 4G network, will help its customers utilise virtual and augmented reality, automated system operations and robotics among other advanced digital technologies. It is further expected to allow clients to gain access to entertainment content and video games. Apart from these, the new 5G services are said to provide an opportunity for both students and professionals in the field of research across artificial intelligence and virtual reality domains.

Overall, for Saudi Arabia, 5G is expected to allow the country to open up various business avenues such as big data services including IoT, smart services such as self-driving vehicles and smart city grids, electronic visa issuance and digital payments.