Qatar and Kuwait throw weight behind GBI cable launch

06 March 2013 | Kavit Majithia


Qatar and Kuwait have shown their commitment to combating cyber security risks ahead of the launch of the GBI North Route next week, according to global reports.

The system has reportedly been funded by the sovereign wealth funds of the countries, with Gulf operators looking at the high capacity system as a way to address booming data services, as well as protect nations from security threats.

There are growing fears in the Middle East market that any cables running the Strait of Hormuz could escalate tensions in Iran.

GBI’s new cable, connecting Iraq and Turkey, will give operators in the Gulf alternative web traffic routes to Europe, and provide resiliency and diversity.

Capacity Daily reported on GBI’s cable launch this week, and Jawad Abbassi, general manager of Arab Advisors, reiterated the need for cable diversity in the Gulf.

“Operators do not want to have a single point of failure for their international connectivity,” he said. “They want multiple routes to span multiple jurisdictions, if something technical or non-technical complicates matters.”

Fewer cables land in Qatar and Kuwait, compared to the UAE and Oman, despite high fixed-line internet and smartphone penetration
across the Gulf, because of connectivity risks.

A cyber attack last year on Saudi oil company Saudi Aramco affected 30,000 computers, and the same virus was used to attack Qatar’s RasGas, reiterating the need for technical security.

Analysts have warned that Gulf states need to carry more content locally, considering the increasing rise of data traffic across the Middle East.

Arab Advisors Group estimates that 48 cable systems will connect Arab countries by 2015.