The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has decided to lower telecom roaming charges by 40% from 1 April.
This move will mean reduced charges for making and receiving calls, sending text messages and using mobile data within the six member states.
The statement made via state media of Saudi Arabia and the UAE quoting Abdullah Bin Juma Al Shibli, GCC assistant secretary general for economic affairs, made no mention of data tariff reductions. However, the slash is expected to help regional mobile phone users save up to $1.1bn, which could potentially boost social welfare by $404m.
He added: ''A GCC technical team will monitor these prices regularly and submit recommendations to the GCC Ministerial Committee Ministerial Committee for Post, Telecommunications and Information Technology. A mechanism has been set up to gather data on a regular basis to update decision-makers on changes taking place in the roaming services market and ensure efficient control."
Last June, GCC members Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE announced the GCC would gradually reduce charges from April but did not specify by how much. During that time, it was said call and text message tariffs would be steadily reduced over three years and data charges over five years.