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The Middle East mobile market offers some opportunities for growth due to its large populations and increasingly progressive outlook. However, there are vast differences between the various countries. Some markets have significant mobile penetration and are looking towards mobile broadband for growth – while other markets face more challenging issues with infrastructure destruction and civil tension inhibiting current growth. This report provides comprehensive insights and statistics into the mobile markets of the Middle East and includes the countries of Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Middle East mobile operators begin to see rising data revenues
On a global level, we saw the mobile operators in the developed markets begin international expansion a few years ago, when it became clear that the mobile markets were saturated and revenue growth opportunities were limited. Developing markets like the Middle East were quickly identified as offering room for potential mobile growth as well as infrastructure building opportunities.
In many ways, the Middle East has benefited from this trend with 6 international operators providing services in parts of the region; bringing valuable experience, infrastructure, services, investment and solutions to the region. The Middle East also has 9 dominant domestic players of its own which are competing with these international players.
The operators face many challenges in the Middle East, including the rise of competition; the impact of civil conflict upon the region, difficult topography, variances in regulatory laws and differing economic conditions. The operators also need to keep pace with the rapid rate of development in telecoms on a global level and this requires huge capital expenditure as well as an appropriately skilled workforce.
Many operators are obliged to pay large tax levies and licensing fees depending on the country - and are subject to various regulatory conditions applied across the different markets of the Middle East.
In many cases governments and operators have attempted to curb or stop the disruptive influence of Over-The-Top players; however, this has had limited success as it can be difficult to regulate such prohibitions and citizens often turn to VPN solutions to access such services.
This BuddeComm annual publication provides a country level analyses of 14 mobile markets across the Middle East including Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. It includes analyses of each countries’ mobile market, key mobile market statistics and information on the major operators and trends. It also includes mobile subscriber data for the major international and domestic operators.
This annual publication also incorporates BuddeComm’s ‘Middle East Telecoms Maturity Index’ (TMI). This is an index (on a scale between 0% and 100%) which measures and ranks the relative maturity of the telecoms industries in 12 countries in the region (Syria and Yemen have been excluded from the index at this time). The Index has been devised as a tool to compare the different markets easily and uniformly. Countries have been placed into ‘Market Leaders’, ‘Market Challengers’ or ‘Market Laggards’ categories according to their Market Index score. Countries are compared according to a number of parameters with a focus on fixed broadband and mobile broadband penetration. GDP is also included in a number of charts both for illustrative purposes and as a gauge to help decipher market maturity. However, a number of countries low on the Index scale are noted for the considerable effort still required in terms of market investment, regulatory oversight and effective government-sponsored direction. Given the poor condition of the telecoms market in these countries they have not been placed into either category.
- Many Middle Eastern mobile operators are facing increased challenges in the mobile sector, due primarily to regulatory reforms, liberalisation, Over-The-Top providers, economic and civil conditions, the lifting of sanctions (Iran) and mobile market saturation.
- The mobile operators have risen to the challenges presented across the various markets. By using methods such as network infrastructure sharing, international expansion, acquisitions and partnerships, cost cutting and service improvements, many of the operators continue to survive and even grow. Focusing on mobile broadband opportunities is becoming particularly beneficial to many operators.
Companies mentioned in this report
Mobile Telecommunications Co (MTC) / Zain, Ooredoo Kuwait (previously National Mobile Telecommunication Co (NMT) / Wataniya Telecom), Kuwait Telecom Company (KTC) / Viva, Batelco, Zain Bahrain, Viva Bahrain, Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), Mobile Communications Iran (MCI), MTN Irancell, Tamin Telecom (Rightel), Mobile Telecommunications Company of Isfahan (MTCE), Telecommunication Kish Company (TKC), Iraqi Telephone and Postal Company (ITPC), Asiacell, Zain Iraq, Korek Telecom, Regional Telecom, Cellcom, Orange (Partner), Pelephone (Bezeq), HOT Mobile, Golan Telecom, Rami Levy, Jordan Telecom Group/Orange, Zain Jordan, Batelco/Umniah, Saudi Telecom Company (STC)/Bravo, Integrated Telecom Company (ITC)/Bayn Consortium, GO Telecom/Etihad Atheeb, Mobily/Ettihad Etisalat/Bayanat Al-Oula, Zain KSA, Lebara KSA/Etihad Jawraa, Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (Virgin Mobile MEA), Axiom Telecom, VIVA, Etisalat, du, Jordan Telecom Group/Orange, Zain Jordan, Batelco/Umniah, MTC Touch, Alfa Telecom, Ooredoo Qatar, Vodafone Qatar, OmanTel, Ooredoo Oman, FRiENDi, Majan Telecom (Renna), Samatel, Syrian Telecommunication Establishment (STE), MTN Syria, Syriatel, Turkcell, Vodafone Turkey, Avea.