Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has established a SR1.87m ($500m) independent fund that will focus on investing in the digital and technology sectors across the Middle East region.

The fund was approved by the firm’s board of directors on 24 May.

According to STC, the fund will be financed by five equal tranches, with each tranche self-financed by the firm.

The telecoms firm has earlier established STC Ventures, a venture capital fund focusing on start-up, small and medium-sized companies in the region.

STC Ventures is one of several investors in Compareit4me.com, a website that allows users to compare credit cards, loans and cars across the GCC states as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. The website also allows users in the UAE to compare and buy insurance policies from leading insurers.

STC recently obtained initial approval from authorities to deploy a fibre-optic network that will connect 1.3 million homes across the kingdom over a four-year period.

The project is expected to cost close to $2bn.

STC is one of three bidders competing for the contract to operate the third mobile network in Oman. Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (RTA) is expected to announce the qualified bidders for the mobile licence on 14 August, and the winner on 4 September.