The Middle East readies itself to become the next subsea hub

24 May 2018 | Natalie Bannerman

Sabotage, cyber security and better regulation in the region, were some of the key topics of discussion from the 2018 Subsea Middle East Summit

"Transparency in the region is needed," said Amr Eid, CEO of Gulf Bridge International (GBI).

Speaking during the subsea Middle East summit on a panel exploring the subsea terminal hub between Europe and the Far East, Eid touched on the two key takeaways from the session the right regulatory environment and transparency overall.  

 "We need to learn from Europe and have regulatory support," chimed in Ivan Skenderoski, managing partner of Salience Consulting and moderator of the discussion.

Cross connect prices – what has happened in Europe to solve this is to move from a monopolistic to ca competitive environment. But governments here do need to make it easier to land different cables here.

When asked which country in the Middle East is best primed to become the hub for subsea interconnection Eid replied: "It’s not about specific locations, it’s about whoever is able to bring that access environment to the user. The first country or hub that is able to provide regional access is the one that’s going to succeed."

Sitting on the same panel as Eid was Mohamed Nasr, AVP, EMEA, cable development at PCCW Global who was keen to establish the difference between interconnection points and hubs, terms that often get confused in conversation and the ability to the Middle East to have either.

 "First I think we need to differentiate between an interconnection point and a hub. If we’re talking about a hub like Amsterdam or London, we are terminating at those hubs we are not using them to cross connect between two cables," said Nasr. "If you look at the Middle East, you don’t have a location you can pinpoint as the ultimate endpoint."

Jamil Al Koussa, chairman of BBG & G2A Consortium was also on the panel, and voiced his opinion on the topic saying: "I think the Middle East as a whole will become a hub, because of its location in-between Asia and Europe and close links to India."

Purumedh Gupta, VP & business head of Bharti Airtel, very astutely made the link between the growing adoption of the cloud in the region and the subsea market, adding: "As the cloud infrastructure grows, subsea is going to be driven by the cloud environments."

Kicking off the Submarine security solutions panel shortly afterwards, Ed McCormack, consultant at Ciena started by describing the biggest threats to subsea cables in the Middle East. "Geographically the Middle East has many countries, many cable landings. There is an abundance of shallow waters, which adds to the vulnerability of cables. In addition to that you have a highly regulated environment, so when cables break as they inevitably do it becomes a greater challenge to fix."

Radwan Moussalli of Tata Communications elaborated on these challenges, detailing what exactly causes these cable breakages. "One of the biggest causes of cable damages in this region is fishing, the other is big vessels carrying anchor cables and it’s not only related to shallow water here, it happens in other parts of the world as well."

He then took it away from environmental threats and mentioned sabotage and cyber security as two of the newer threats to the industry.

But overall Nigel Bayliff, CEO of AquaComms, said the biggest area of concern for the subsea cable industry is people. 

Topics: Subsea, submarine, Middle East, Amr Eid, Far East, Ivan Skenderoski, PCCW Global, Radwan Moussalli, AquaComms