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Indian driver banned from travel over unpaid phone bills

Riyadh, July 20 (IANS) An Indian in Saudi Arabia has been slapped with a travel ban over his inability to pay staggeringly high phone bills for SIM cards that he claimed were falsely registered under his name, a media report said Sunday.

Shamsuddin Ansari, who is employed as a driver, has been issued with three outstanding phone bills worth over 22,000 Saudi riyals (around $5,900) by Saudi Arabia's leading telecom company in capital Riyadh, Arab News reported.

Ansari approached the telecom company to clear his name from the defaulters list, but to no avail.

The Indian driver filed a complaint with the police earlier this month.

He also sought help from the governor’s office in Saudi Arabia to clear his name.

"I am oblivious to where these bills have come up from. There are three SIM cards under my name and ID. I am a house driver and cannot afford three SIM cards in the first place," the report quoted Ansari as saying.

Ansari claimed that his iqama copy has been misused.

An iqama is a residence permit issued to the expatriates who arrive in Saudi Arabia on an employment visa.

"There is a credit limit system in place and a driver such as myself would never be authorised to run up a bill beyond 1,000 Saudi riyals. Why, then, has the telecom company kept quiet about such a staggering amount?" he added.

Such incidents are on a rise in Saudi Arabia.

Nearly 20 Arab and Asian suspects were arrested in connection with the issuance of 15,884 SIM cards over the past seven months, the report said.