Counties covered: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
This annual report provides an insight into the telecoms market of the Middle East. Topics detailed in the report include the following:
National and international telecommunications infrastructure and developments
Regulatory issues and government policies
Brief overviews on all of the major telecommunications carriers and service providers
Many Middle Eastern countries are actively working towards less government involvement and greater competition in their telecoms markets, often encouraged by World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership requirements. To date, only Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen have not gained WTO membership.
Israel is by far the most deregulated market, with active competition in all areas. While nearly all the other countries in the region are now beginning to introduce some degree of competition and private ownership, Bahrain and Jordan are much the most advanced in the process. Oman is also opening its telecoms market, but is someway behind in the process, with only a second mobile licence awarded as yet.
In mid-2006 the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced its intention to fully liberalise its telecom sector by 2015, while Saudi Arabia announced plans to liberalise its fixed telephony sector ending the current monopoly, and opening the mobile sector for more competition.
The region is set to benefit from the new TWA-1 Undersea Cable Network linking Karachi in Pakistan, Fujairah in UAE and Al Seeb Muscat in Oman. In addition, Flag Telecom’s FALCON cable, currently under construction, is expected to bring enormous amounts of capacity to the region, which has previously underserved by international connectivity.
In early 2006 the national telcos of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iraq signed an agreement to lay the FOG2 cable. Representing the second generation of Fibre-Optic Gulf (FOG) cables, FOG2 will initially link Fujairah (UAE), Um Qasr (Al Basra Province, Iraq) and the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, and is expected to be completed by end-2006.