2007 Middle Eastern - Mobile Communications and Mobile Data Market

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Last updated: 3 Feb 2008 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 133

Analyst: Stephen McNamara

Publication Overview

Counties covered: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

This annual report offers a wealth of information on the mobile markets in the Middle East. Subjects covered include:

  • Mobile statistics and trends;
  • Mobile operators;
  • Government policies and regulatory issues;
  • Licence auctions;
  • Mobile technologies – GSM, CDMA, 3G;
  • Trends in the prepaid sector;
  • Mobile satellite services;
  • Mobile data services – SMS, MMS, WAP, GPRS, EDGE, CDMA 1xRTT, 1x EV-DO.

Executive Summary

This Middle East market report covers the mobile telephony and mobile data markets in each of the following countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, UAE and Yemen. The region’s major mobile markets include:


The Iraqi mobile market has grown to 34% penetration from zero in only three years, growing over 100% during 2006. With little fixed-line infrastructure, subscribers have taken to mobile use as their main form of communication. The desperate security situation has been an impetus to greater use. However, as the situation has worsened in 2007 and emigration of middle class Iraqis has increased, growth appears to have slowed considerably and operators are finding the situation more and more difficult. For the country overview, see chapter 5, page 36.


Israel’s mobile communications market is one of the most competitive in the region, with four operators in a saturated market. The difficulties of growth through new customer acquisition and voice tariff competition have led the operators to focus on mobile data as a source of revenue growth. Third generation services have been launched by the three major operators and subscriber numbers are significant but growth is steady. Success in selling mobile content and applications is essential to combat falling voice ARPU. For the country overview, see chapter 6, page 41.


Jordan has one of the most open telecommunications markets in the Middle East and an independent regulator. The mobile market is experiencing fast growth with a very competitive four operator market where new operators Umniah and XPress have had a dramatic impact on the duopoly previously enjoyed by Fastlink and MobileCom. This has led to a penetration rate far higher than one would expect for Jordan’s per capita GDP level. For the country overview, see chapter 7, page 50.


Qatar is the only mobile market in the Middle East where the incumbent operator has retained its monopoly. This is about to change with a second licence to be issued before end-2007. The Qatari market would appear to be at or near saturation level with penetration well over 100% and it will be interesting to see the strategies adopted by any new competitor. For the country overview, see chapter 11, page 73.

Saudi Arabia

Penetration levels are rising quickly in Saudi Arabia and are fast catching up with those in the smaller Gulf States. A third mobile licence has recently been sold, attracting a record price, to MTC of Kuwait. MTC will compete with Etisalat of the UAE, winner of the second Saudi Arabian licence, and Saudi incumbent STC. For the country overview, see chapter 12, page 77.


Mobile penetration in the UAE is at sky-high levels, leaving little room for new competitor du. Both du and incumbent Etisalat are majority government owned and do not intend to compete on price. Both are emphasising 3G services, mobile TV and other data services and applications. For the country overview, see chapter 15, page 100.

For those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the mobile telephony and mobile data markets in the Middle East, this report is essential reading and provides further information on:

  • Mobile market forces and developments;
  • Mobile operators – acquisitions, mergers, and competition;
  • Past and planned licence auctions;
  • Technological developments in the mobile telephony and mobile data markets.

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

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