Category Archives: Business

Five Middle East Telecom Developments You Need to Know About

Five Middle East Telecom Developments You Need to Know About

The telecom sector in the Middle East had been growing at a steady rate until 2017, when mobile penetration reached 120 percent and, as a result of a reduction in expatriate population and the economy losing momentum, mobile subscriber growth reached its lowest-ever rate. The market grew only 1 percent year over year in 2016 in contrast to 6 percent growth just two years prior. Middle East operators experienced earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) margins of 37 percent compared to 30 percent globally this past year. However, this figure was at 41 percent in 2014 and continues to slide.

The following are five ongoing developments that will either benefit or challenge the region’s telecom sector moving forward:

 

  1. World Bank’s Support of Affordable Internet Access in Afghanistan

worldbanklogoAs part of a comprehensive $691 million financing agreement signed by the World Bank and the Afghan government to improve the nation’s healthcare sector and economy, the International Development Association, a fund operated by the World Bank, has allotted $51 million to the Afghanistan Digital CASA 1 Project. The money, which the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology will oversee, will help increase access to affordable Internet, improve the government’s ability to deliver digital services, and attract private investors to the telecom sector. According to the Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority, only 15 percent of the country’s population had consistent Internet access as of 2017.

 

  1. Economic Measures in Saudi Arabia to Negatively Impact Telecom Sector

Saudi Arabian government revenue has decreased annually since oil prices began to drop in 2014 and, as a result, the country recently introduced multiple reforms and regulations to create new revenue streams. Among other measures expected to increase the inflation rate, the government introduced a 5 percent value-added tax and an excise tax in 2017. It also adopted policy changes for the country’s telecom regulatory authority. Consequently, the net income of the telecom sector in 2018 will fall 1.4 percent to 9.3 billion Saudi riyals, according to a report from the Saudi investment firm NCB Capital.

NCB is also projecting a 2.9 percent decline in mobile users to 39 million. One measure in particular that many expect to cause a drastic decline in income is the Communications and Information Technology Commission’s decision to remove a ban on VoIP that will, in turn, reduce income generated from international calls, which account for nearly 7 percent of the telecom sector’s overall revenue.

 

  1. Launch of 5G Ultra-Mobile Broadband Service

EtisalatLogoIn December 2017, the Emirates Telecommunications Group, also known as Etisalat, announced that it had successfully launched its 5G ultra-mobile broadband service. It was the first telecommunications company to launch the fifth-generation wireless system in Middle East. In addition to having the capacity to maintain a higher density of network users, the new service will act as a catalyst for further technological advancement relating to the Internet of Things. Most notably, the implementation of 5G services will foster new tech-driven opportunities for Etisalat business partners in the healthcare, education, and transportation sectors.

More recently, Huawei partnered with Saudi telecom provider STC to collaborate on 5G innovation and launch a 5G network in Saudi Arabia sometime this year. Telecom providers in Kuwait and Qatar have also successfully tested 5G networks and are targeting deployment in 2018.

 

  1. R&M’s New Micro Data Center

R&M, a Switzerland-based developer and provider of network infrastructure cabling systems, recently made news in the Middle Eastern telecom market with the launch of its new, self-contained microdata center called the Telco Edge. Because of its reduced physical footprint and relatively low power consumption, the data center is an ideal solution for rapid deployment of fiber-to-the-home services, and it will allow telecom providers throughout the region to improve application performance across all networks. The benefits in service and cost will most noticeably be felt in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where R&M is most active.

“With ambitious programmes to deliver country-wide high-speed connectivity in both nations, there is growing need for innovative solutions that can deliver higher quality internet services while avoiding the significant capital expenses associated with traditional data centres,” stressed Manzoor Ali, the company’s managing director for Saudi, Bahrain, and Yemen.

 

  1. Reunification of Libya’s Telecom Utility

After four years as two separate entities due to political turmoil, Libya’s telecom utility, LPTIC, reunited in January 2018 and held general meetings to discuss measures to improve connections across the country. The meetings resulted in plans to begin working on projects totaling more $1.7 billion to increase access to Internet service throughout the country.

The flagship project is a six-year initiative to ensure high-speed connections to residential and commercial areas through the country’s 15,000-kilometer, fiber-optic network. Additionally, in a response to frequent mobile communications interruptions over the past few years due to infrastructure damage and power cuts, LPTIC companies are working on an 18-month satellite project to install new equipment, such as generators and batteries, to establish a reliable power supply and maintain network connectivity.

How Is Lebanon Improving Its Transportation Systems?

How Is Lebanon Improving Its Transportation Systems?

Lebanon has a network of roads extending beyond 7,000 kilometers. However, because of a lack of funding, they are falling into decline. Many aging roads are simply not being maintained and others remain severely damaged from the nation’s 15-year civil war. Its railway system was also greatly affected by the conflict. What was once a… Continue Reading

4 Ongoing Mega Projects in Turkey You Need to Know About

4 Ongoing Mega Projects in Turkey You Need to Know About

Since the turn of the 21st century, Turkey has made substantial investments in ambitious infrastructure projects, and that trend is going to continue beyond 2018. In the past decade and a half alone, the Middle Eastern country has spent nearly $100 billion to construct new roadways, tunnels, airports, bridges, and railways in an effort to… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about Qatar’s $22 Billion Expressway Project

What You Need to Know about Qatar’s $22 Billion Expressway Project

Qatar has been busy implementing widespread infrastructure projects across a variety of sectors. As the designated host country for the 2020 FIFA World Cup, the nation is building a number of new stadiums as well as local roads and expressways. One of the most important of these projects is the Qatar Expressway Project. At a… Continue Reading

Everything You Need to Know about 5G in the Middle East

Everything You Need to Know about 5G in the Middle East

Gradual improvements in technology have helped connect communities around the world and allowed for easy access to resources that were previously unavailable. Smartphones and digital device technology have especially improved at a rapid rate, with increased capabilities and the development of life-changing applications. As such, the mobile networks on which those devices are connected have… Continue Reading

Al-Maktoum International Airport’s Expansion – What You Need to Know

Al-Maktoum International Airport’s Expansion – What You Need to Know

More than 90 million passengers traveled to and from Dubai’s two international airports—Al-Maktoum International Airport and Dubai International Airport—in 2017. The number is expected to rise significantly in the near future due in part to the continued expansion of Al-Maktoum International. Here are a few important things you need to know in regards to Al-Maktoum… Continue Reading

Spotlight – Egypt’s Wonderful New City of the Future

Spotlight – Egypt’s Wonderful New City of the Future

The most-populated city in Egypt, Cairo serves as the country’s administrative and financial capital, but this won’t be the case for much longer. In March 2015, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced plans to develop a New Administrative Capital, which will stress sustainability, place emphasis on technology in design, ecology, and culture practices, and alleviate national… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know About the Billion-Dollar CASA-1000 Project

What You Need to Know About the Billion-Dollar CASA-1000 Project

A sufficient source of electricity is a vital aspect of modern societies and instrumental in job creation and economic growth. Afghanistan and nearby countries have growing populations, but their potential for further development is inhibited by the shared problem of a lack of electricity. Because of this, many citizens are forced to endure scorching-hot summers… Continue Reading

Construction Continues on Tallest Skyscraper in the World

Construction Continues on Tallest Skyscraper in the World

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is currently the world’s tallest skyscraper, with a height of 828 meters, but that won’t be the case for much longer. Construction of the 1,000-meter tall Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia is expected to be completed by 2020. As of 2017, the tower was 252 meters high and already boasted… Continue Reading

What You Need to Know about the Gulf Railway Project

What You Need to Know about the Gulf Railway Project

A massive project underway in the Middle East could transform the region’s economy and transportation network. The Gulf Railway is a 2,117-kilometer railroad intended to link the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Here’s what you need to know about this sprawling… Continue Reading