Market Research Logo

Middle East - Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs

Middle East - Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs

The Middle East is earmarked as a region which will experience comparatively high mobile subscription growth in some of its markets over the next few years - compared to many of the more developed and saturated markets around the world. This is expected to be led by the largely populated countries of Turkey, Iran and Iraq which still have room for mobile subscription growth to occur.

5G is also firmly on the agenda for many markets in the Middle East, particularly in the GCC countries. Operators are busy deploying 5G technologies in anticipation of 5G and the introduction of devices, spectrum allocation and regulatory approval will eventually push these developments along faster.

The Middle East is benefitting from a number of pan-regional operators such as Etisalat, Vodafone and Orange which are bringing valuable expertise to the region and compliment the local efforts of strong domestic players such as Batelco, Umniah, Turkcell and VIVA, just to name a few. 4G LTE is already heavily deployed in many markets and the operators are turning to increasing mobile broadband usage in order to grow revenues.

In some Middle Eastern markets however; there are unique challenges relating to civil unrest which has hindered mobile progress. The operators in countries like Yemen and Syria, for example, face more challenging issues relating to infrastructure destruction, security concerns, economic pressure and humanitarian crises.

This report provides valuable information, analyses and statistics into the mobile operators in markets of the Middle East and includes the countries of Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

This annual publication also incorporates BuddeComm’s ‘Middle East Telecoms Maturity Index’ (TMI). This is an index (on a scale between 0% and 100%) which measures and ranks the relative maturity of the telecoms industries in 12 countries in the region (Syria and Yemen have been excluded from the index at this time).

The Index has been devised as a tool to compare the different markets easily and uniformly. Countries have been placed into Market Leaders, Market Challengers or Market Emergents categories according to their Market Index score. Countries are compared according to a number of parameters with a focus on fixed broadband and mobile broadband penetration. GDP is also included in a number of charts both for illustrative purposes and as a gauge to help decipher market maturity. However, a number of countries low on the Index scale are noted for the considerable effort still required in terms of market investment, regulatory oversight and effective government-sponsored direction. Given the poor condition of the telecoms market in these countries they have not been placed into either category.

Recent developments:

Many mobile operators in the Middle East have formed partnerships in order to develop and progress 5G readiness.
Mobile finger-printing and bio-metric registration laws have impacted upon mobile subscriber growth and revenue in many Middle Eastern markets.
Mobile data is growing faster than voice in many Middle Eastern markets.
High taxes are of concern to some mobile operators in the Middle East.
The awarding of Universal licenses and easing of roaming regulations is assisting to create competition in some markets.
The adoption of smart phones is expected to increase.

Companies mentioned in this report include:

Mobile Telecommunications Co (MTC) / Zain, Ooredoo Kuwait (previously National Mobile Telecommunication Co (NMT) / Wataniya Telecom), Kuwait Telecom Company (KTC) / Viva, Batelco, Zain Bahrain, Viva Bahrain, Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), Mobile Communications Iran (MCI), MTN Irancell, Tamin Telecom (Rightel), Mobile Telecommunications Company of Isfahan (MTCE), Telecommunication Kish Company (TKC), Iraqi Telephone and Postal Company (ITPC), Asiacell, Zain Iraq, Korek Telecom, Regional Telecom, Cellcom, Orange (Partner), Pelephone (Bezeq), HOT Mobile, Golan Telecom, Rami Levy, Jordan Telecom Group/Orange, Zain Jordan, Batelco/Umniah, Saudi Telecom Company (STC)/Bravo, Integrated Telecom Company (ITC)/Bayn Consortium, GO Telecom/Etihad Atheeb, Mobily/Ettihad Etisalat/Bayanat Al-Oula, Zain KSA, Lebara KSA/Etihad Jawraa, Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (Virgin Mobile MEA), Axiom Telecom, VIVA, Etisalat, du, Jordan Telecom Group/Orange, Zain Jordan, Batelco/Umniah, MTC Touch, Alfa Telecom, Ooredoo Qatar, Vodafone Qatar, OmanTel, Ooredoo Oman, FRiENDi, Majan Telecom (Renna), Samatel, Syrian Telecommunication Establishment (STE), MTN Syria, Syriatel, Turkcell, Vodafone Turkey, Avea.


  • Executive Summary
  • Regional mobile overview
    • Table Middle East - mobile subscriptions and annual growth – 2014 - 2019
    • IRAQ
    • TURKEY
    • IRAN
    • MARKET CONSIDERATIONS
      • Taxes
      • Universal licenses
      • Roaming
      • Smart phone adoption
        • Table Middle East - mobile smartphone adoption growth – 2017; 2020
      • Data revenue growth
        • Table Zain Bahrain – mobile data market share of total revenue – 2015 – 2018
      • 5G
      • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
      • Mobile digital security
    • MIDDLE EAST COUNTRY SUMMARY
      • Table Middle East mobile market – country summary - 2019
    • MIDDLE EAST MAJOR OPERATORS AND SUBSCRIBERS
      • Major domestic mobile operators
        • Table Middle East – Major domestic operators by subscribers – 2013 - 2018
      • Major international mobile operators
        • Table Middle East – international mobile operators by subscribers – 2012 - 2018
    • TMI INTRODUCTION AND STATISTICAL OVERVIEW
      • Market analysis
    • MIDDLE EAST TELECOM MATURITY INDEX
    • TMI VERSUS GDP
      • Market Leaders
      • Market Challengers
      • Market Emergents
    • MOBILE AND MOBILE BROADBAND PENETRATION
    • FIXED AND MOBILE BROADBAND PENETRATION
    • GCC COUNTRIES FIXED AND MOBILE BROADBAND PENETRATION
    • MARKET CHARACTERISTICS
  • Bahrain
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Mobile licenses
      • Subscriber registration
      • Roaming tariff reduction
      • Mobile Termination Rates (MTR)
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Batelco
        • Table Bahrain - Batelco total group mobile subscribers – 2005 – Q1 2018
      • Zain Bahrain
        • Table Zain Bahrain – revenue, EBITDA, CAPEX and ARPU - 2005 – 2018
        • Table Zain Bahrain – market share of mobile data revenues – 2015 – 2018
      • Viva Bahrain / STC Bahrain
  • Iran
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
      • MVNOs
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Second mobile licence – MTN Irancell
      • Third Mobile licence – Tamin Telecom (Rightel)
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Table Iran mobile operators – subscriber market share – 2016; mid 2017
      • MCI (Mobile Communications Iran)/Hamrah-e-Avval
      • MTN Irancell
        • Table MTN Irancell – Revenue and CAPEX – 2016 – 2017
        • Table MTN Irancell – mobile subscribers and ARPU – 2007 – 1H 2018
      • Tamin Telecom (Rightel)
  • Iraq
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • OPERATOR STATISTICS
      • Table Iraq - Mobile operator market shares – 2004 – 2018
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Temporary mobile licences awarded in 2003
      • Permanent licences awarded in 2007
      • Fourth mobile licence
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Asiacell Communications (Oooredoo)
        • Table Iraq - Asiacell revenue – 2016 - 2018
        • Table Iraq - Asiacell subscribers – 2006 - 2018
      • Zain Iraq (formerly MTC Atheer)
        • Table Zain Iraq financial data – 2008 – 2018
        • Table Zain Iraq mobile subscribers – 2006 – 2018
        • Table Zain Iraq prepaid subscribers – 2009 – 2018
      • Korek Telecom
        • Table Iraq - Korek Telecom subscribers – 2013 – 2018
      • Kurdistan operators
  • Israel
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • OPERATOR STATISTICS
      • Table Israel - Major mobile operators' monthly mobile ARPU – 2013 – 2018
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Connection charges
      • Licensing
      • LTE Spectrum
      • Roaming
      • MTRs
      • Early termination fee reduction
      • MNP
      • Network sharing
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Cellcom
        • Table Israel - Cellcom – consolidated revenue and net profit – 2005 – 2018
        • Table Israel - Cellcom – mobile subscribers and ARPU – 2005 – 2018
      • Partner Communications Company (formerly Orange)
        • Table Israel - Partner – revenue and operating profit – 2005 – 2017
        • Table Israel - Partner – mobile subscribers and monthly ARPU – 2005 – Q3 2018
      • Pelephone (Bezeq)
        • Table Israel - Pelephone – revenue and operating profit – 2003 – Q2 2018
        • Table Israel - Pelephone – mobile subscribers and monthly ARPU – 2005 – Q3 2018
      • HOT Mobile
        • Table Israel - HOT Mobile – revenue, EBITDA, CAPEX – Q3 2016; Q3 2017; Q2 2018
        • Table Israel - HOT Mobile – mobile subscribers – 2010 – 2017
      • Golan Telecom (acquired by Electra in 2017)
    • MVNOS
      • Historical background
      • Recent developments
  • Jordan
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Third GSM licence
      • 3G licences
      • 4G spectrum
      • SIM card registration
      • MTRs
        • Table Jordan - Historical - Mobile Termination Rates – 2010 – 2014
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Table Jordan - major mobile operators' market share – 2004 – 2017
      • Zain Jordan
        • Table Zain Jordan financial data (including ARPU) – 2005 – Q3 2018
        • Table Zain Jordan prepaid market share - mobile subscribers – 2005 – 2017
      • Orange Jordan
        • Table Orange Jordan – mobile revenue and subscribers – 2006 – 2017
        • Table Orange Jordan – total revenue and EBITDA – 2016 - 2017
      • Umniah
        • Table Jordan - Umniah – revenue and profit – 2016 - 2017
        • Table Jordan - Umniah – mobile subscribers – 2008 – Q1 2017
    • MVNOS
  • Kuwait
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • OPERATOR STATISTICS
      • Table Kuwait - mobile operators' market share – 2005 – 2018
      • Table Kuwait - mobile operators, subscribers and annual change – 2018
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Third mobile operator
      • Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • Roaming tariff reduction
      • Spectrum refarming for LTE
      • Mobile tower management
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Zain Kuwait
        • Table Kuwait - Zain Group subscribers and revenue – 2005 – 2018
        • Table Zain Kuwait revenue, net profit, ARPU and subscribers – 2005 – 2018
        • Table Zain Kuwait – prepaid share – 2005 – 2018
      • Ooredoo Kuwait
        • Table Ooredoo Kuwait financial data, subscribers, ARPU – 2016; Q3 2018
      • Viva
        • Table Kuwait - Viva revenue, net profit, EBITDA, and subscribers – 2012 – 2018
  • Lebanon
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • OPERATOR STATISTICS
      • Table Lebanon - Mobile operators' market share – 2009 – 2017
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Lebanon's current mobile contracts
      • Open international tender 2015
      • Spectrum
      • Interconnect
      • Counterfeit mobile devices regulation
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Touch (operated by Zain)
        • Table Lebanon - Touch mobile subscribers – 2005 – 2017
      • Alfa
        • Table Lebanon - Alfa – mobile subscribers – 2009 – 2017
  • Oman
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • OPERATOR STATISTICS
      • Table Oman - operators mobile market share by subscribers – 2012 – 2018
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Second mobile licence
      • Third mobile licence
      • Reseller/MVNO licences
      • Roaming
      • MNP
      • Spectrum allocation
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Table Omantel Group revenue by segment – 2012 – Q2 2018
      • Table Omantel Oman revenue – Q3 2017 – Q2 2018
      • Table Omantel Mobile- mobile subscribers – Q3 2015; 2016; 2017
      • Table Ooredoo Oman – revenue and blended ARPU – 2013 – 2017
      • Table Ooredoo Oman – total fixed and mobile subscribers – 2011 – Q1 2018
    • MVNOS
  • Qatar
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • OPERATOR STATISTICS
      • Table Qatar - Mobile operators' market share – 2009 – 2018
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • New executive powers
      • Second mobile licence
      • Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO)
      • Roaming tariff reduction
      • NP
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Ooredoo Qatar
        • Table Ooredoo Qatar revenue and net profit – 2015 – 2018
      • Vodafone Qatar
        • Table Vodafone Qatar – financial data – 2009 – 2018
        • Table Vodafone Qatar – mobile subscribers – 2009 – 2018
  • Saudi Arabia
    • MARKET OVERVIEW
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • OPERATOR STATISTICS
      • Table Saudi Arabia - major mobile operators' market share – 2005 – 2018
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Award of second GSM mobile licence
      • iDEN contract awarded
      • Award of Third Generation (3G) licences
      • Award of third mobile licence
      • Mobile license extensions 2016
      • Roaming
      • MTRs
      • Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
      • Fingerprinting law
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
      • Mobily (Etihad Etisalat)
        • Table Mobily revenue and mobile subscribers – 2006 – 1H 2018
      • Zain KSA
        • Table Saudi Arabia - Zain KSA customers and revenue – 2015 – 9M 2018
  • Syria
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Third mobile licence
      • Current BOT contracts/Long term free hold licenses
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Syriatel
        • Table Syriatel – Revenue – 2008 – 1H 2018
      • MTN Syria
        • Table MTN Syria Revenue and CAPEX – 2016 – 2018 1H
        • Table MTN Syria – Subscribers and ARPU – 2009 – Q1 2018
  • Turkey
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Overview (recent general laws and regulations)
      • Third Generation (3G) licences
      • Third and fourth GSM licences
      • Significant market power (SMP)
      • MTRs
      • Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • Telsim privatisation
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Table Turkey - mobile operators' spectrum market share
      • Table Turkey - mobile operators' revenue market share by service – Q3 2017
      • Table Turkey - mobile operators' market share by subscribers – 2007 – 2018
      • Table Turkey - mobile operators' market share by revenue – Q3 2017
      • Turkcell
        • Table Turkcell Turkey subscribers – 2016; Q2 2018
        • Table Turkcell group financial data – 2012 – 2018
        • Table Turkcell Turkey average monthly blended mobile ARPU – 2008 – 2018
        • Table Turkcell Turkey average monthly MOU and mobile churn – 2001 – 2018
        • Table Turkcell smartphone penetration – 2012 – 2018
      • Vodafone Turkey
        • Table Vodafone Turkey financial and subscriber data – 2008 – 2018
        • Table Historical - Vodafone Turkey pre and post-paid ARPU – 2006 – 2014
        • Table Historical - Vodafone Turkey smartphone penetration – 2011 – 2015
      • Turk Telekom (Avea)
        • Table Turk Telekom Group - key financial data – 2007 – 2018
        • Table Turk Telekom Group - prepaid, post-paid subscribers and blended ARPU – 2012 – 2018
  • United Arab Emirates
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Table UAE – mobile operators' market share by subscribers – 2010 – 1H 2018
      • Etisalat
        • Table Etisalat (UAE) mobile subscribers and blended ARPU – 2011 – 2018
      • du (Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company)
        • Table UAE - du mobile revenue – 2009 – 2017
        • Table UAE - du mobile subscribers – 2010 – 2017
        • Table UAE - Historical - du mobile minutes of use (MOU) – 2010 – 2014
    • MVNOS
      • Virgin Mobile
      • Swyp
  • Yemen
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • GSM licences awarded
      • Third GSM licence
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • MTN Yemen
        • Table MTN Yemen - subscribers, ARPU, and market share – 2009 – 2017
        • Table MTN Yemen – revenue and capex – 2014 – 2017
      • SabaFon
        • Table Yemen - SabaFon subscribers – 2004 – 2017 Q2
      • TeleYemen/Yemen Mobile
      • HiTS Unitel/Y Telecom

Download our eBook: How to Succeed Using Market Research

Learn how to effectively navigate the market research process to help guide your organization on the journey to success.

Download eBook

Share this report