Middle East in 2009

The telecoms market of the Middle East continues to develop at lightening speed, and remain a focus of world attention.

Incumbents, new licensees and global operators are in increasingly hot competition to match the soaring demand of consumers and businesses for exciting new services. Research firm Hot Telecom predicts that mobile subscribers in the region will rise from 190.8 million in 2008 to some 256.5 million by 2011. It says broadband subscriptions in the Middle East will go from 12.7 million to 25.5 million over the same period.

The communications sector in the Middle East is not without its challenges. There is still a wide gap between the digital haves and have-nots. Some countries lead the world in infrastructure and adoption of next-generation services. Others are barely off the starting block. We examine four of the least penetrated countries in the region in this supplement.

In addition, we look at why a lack of major cable diversity is still a talking point across the Middle East. And we anticipate the impact of a flood of traffic into the region from Africa.

As demand for rich content and high bandwidth services grows across the Arabic-speaking world, we examine preparations for networks that will match future needs. And there is a special spotlight on Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s biggest economy and home to the Middle East’s wealthiest carrier.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank the sponsors of our Middle East supplement – AT&T Wholesale and OTEGlobe. Their support has made the publication possible.