Saudi Arabia telecoms operator Mobily has signed a $280m, long-term sharia-compliant financing agreement to enhance its offerings in the kingdom.

The funds will be used to help the country’s second-biggest mobile operator improve its information communications technology (ICT) network, by incorporating products and services from communications services provider Ericsson of Sweden.

The financing agreement was backed by the Swedish Export Credit Guarantee Board and the Swedish Export Credit Corporation, with Credit Agricole, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale.

Telecoms operators across the region are increasingly turning to data to drive profit growth through the development of services such as online gaming and e-commerce.

That follows the award by the Saudi government of three mobile virtual network operator licences, which is set to increase the competitive landscape in the country.

Jawraa Lebara has joined forces with Mobily, while Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa will provide services over the network of Saudi Telecom Company, the country’s incumbent operator. Dubai-based retailer Axiom Telecom is partnering with Zain Saudi.