2022 has been a tumultuous year for the telecom industry. Nevertheless, some companies managed to keep their heads above water and then some. The previous 25 years have seen a revolution in telecommunications, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region wasn’t one to sit on the sidelines. Despite certain countries’ reforms being cosmetic, the most successful telecom companies have been in an upward spiral since the early 2000s. Thus, these companies went down a path of steady, dynamic growth.
In recent years, some governments increased competition, set up efficient regulatory bodies, and moved investment to the private sector. In addition, the telecom sector in the region has further evolved chiefly due to the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of technology rather than revenue (the revenue decreased by about one percent).
The Middle East’s telecom sector has changed significantly over the past few years due to several phenomena. One of them is COVID epidemic of the past two years did not considerably affect telecom revenues (a decrease of less than 1 percent). We know, however, that the pandemic highlighted the resilience and adaptability of the telecom networks as they withstood the unexpected increase in usage.
Les Bâtons dans les Roues
This French expression is on point in this situation as it designates when certain parameters get in the way of achieving the goals. MENA telecoms have faced many difficulties in 2022.
- Data privacy and cybersecurity have become serious as users’ private data is increasingly available to telecom providers, social media platforms, and many other organizations. The region’s nations recognized the value of data protection and subsequently implemented the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- Most of the population in the Levant, North Africa, and Iran consists of disconnected individuals, with 140 million not using mobile services and 350 million not using mobile internet. This gap is chiefly due to the cost barrier and illiteracy.
- Not enough is being done to make mobile broadband and services widely available. The majority of countries’ universal service funds have been making money from some of the most successful telecom companies that could have been used to extend service to areas where it is not practical financially. Most governments have not coordinated their policy in this area or provided adequate funding for digital government services. However, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have prioritized creating an environment that attracts digital businesses and enables their rapid development.
Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
Headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Telecom Co. was established in 1998, offering telecommunications services. Subsequently, it establishes, manages, operates, and maintains the infrastructure for fixed and mobile telecommunications networks. According to Forbes, in 2022, the company brought in 16.9 billion USD, held 31.8 billion USD worth of assets, and took home 3 billion USD in profits.
STC is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest and most successful telecom companies. The Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) owns 64% of the telecom giant and recently declared, in September 2021, that it would consider selling some of those shares while retaining its majority ownership. Furthermore, in March of last year, STC and PIF signed a contract establishing a jointly-owned business specializing in Internet of Things services. Additionally, the company plans on establishing a new data center business with an initial capital of 26.7 million USD. Consequently, Solutions by STC debuted with a $4.8 billion market value on the Saudi Exchange in 2021.
Emirates Telecommunications Group Co. PJSC is concerned with providing telecommunication services, media, and related equipment. Additionally, it provides international telecommunications companies and consortia with related contracting and consulting services. The company was established in 1976, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, serves as its corporate headquarters. According to Forbes, in 2022, the company brought in 14.5 billion USD, held 34.9 billion USD worth of assets, and took home 2.5 billion USD in profits.
This has been a big year for the telecom giant. In June 2022, the UAE telco changed its name to “etisalat by e&.” It is conceivably the most well-known regional company to undergo rebranding this year.in addition, Telecom’s major e& announced in back in July 2022 that eWallet is undergoing a major transformation into a new fintech company, “e& money.” Furthermore, the team attended GITEX Global 2022 and invited people to experience the next digital universe with the soft launch of their virtual world, e& universe.
Ooredoo QSC, a Qatari multinational telecommunications company, has its main office in Doha. In the domestic and international telecommunications industries, as well as in the business and residential markets, Ooredoo offers mobile, wireless, wireline, and content services with market share. According to Forbes, in 2022, the company brought in 8.2 billion USD, held 21.3 billion USD worth of assets, and took home 289 million USD in profits.
The biggest telecom provider in Qatar is Ooredoo. It was established in 1949 as Qatar National Telecom Service, which also constructed the city of Doha’s first phone exchange. The group served 121 million customers in 10 MENA and Southeast Asian nations in 2021. In addition to starting to roll out 5G networks in Kuwait and Oman, Ooredoo has established more than 70 active 5G sites in Qatar. In addition, Ericsson and Ooredoo signed a partnership at Mobile World Congress 2022 in Barcelona, Spain, to provide offshore enterprise connectivity in Qatar. Furthermore, the official global connectivity services provider for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 was Ooredoo.
In the Middle East and North Africa, Mobile Telecommunications Co. KSC offers mobile telecommunication services. Operation, acquisition, installation, management, and maintenance of a mobile phone and paging system are among its activities. Additionally, the business buys investment securities with its surplus funds. The Kuwait-based Mobile Telecommunications company was established on June 22, 1983. According to Forbes, in 2022, the company brought in 5 billion USD, held 15.7 billion USD worth of assets, and took home 659 million USD in profits.
Serving approximately 50.9 million customers, Zain operates in eight nations throughout the Middle East and Africa. Al-Sharq Holding Co. owns 5.1%, Oztel Holding owns 21.9%, and the Kuwait Investment Authority owns 24.2% of the business. Zain Telecom introduced the Zain Venture Fund in August 2021. It made investments and signed a memorandum of understanding with Swvl and Pipe, both of which are based in the United Arab Emirates. The executive committee chairman of Boursa Kuwait, Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi, is also a member of the board of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the group CEO and vice chairman (UNHCR).
Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du)
Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. PSJC provides fixed, mobile, wholesale, broadcasting, and associated telecommunications services. It operates through the following segments:
- The Mobile segment offers mobility services (i.e., mobile voice and data, mobile content, and mobile broadband wireless fidelity).
- The Fixed segment comprises wireline services (i.e., broadband, internet protocol (IP) television, and IP and virtual private network business internet and telephony).
- The Wholesale segment includes the termination of inbound international voice traffic, international roaming agreements, and point-to-point leased line connectivity.
- The Broadcasting segment delivers integrated satellite and broadcasting services to broadcasters and media companies.
The company’s headquarters are in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and it was established on December 28, 2005. According to Forbes, in 2022, the company brought in 3 billion USD, held 4.3 billion USD worth of assets, and took home 393 million USD in profits.
Although du has 0.82% foreign ownership, the telecom operator increased its foreign ownership cap to 49% in February 2021. To support its future operations, the company inked long-term financing deals worth more than $1 billion with a number of banks in May 2021. To aid in the digital transformation, du built an e-Shop for SMEs in the United Arab Emirates last year.
Etihad Etisalat (Mobily)
Etihad Etisalat Co provides mobile phone and internet services. It creates and runs fiber optic and wireless mobile communication networks. The company also installs and runs telephone networks, terminals, and communication unit systems in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Personal, Business and Carriers are the three business divisions through which it conducts business. The company’s headquarters are in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and it was established on August 10, 2004. According to Forbes, in 2022, the company brought in 4 billion USD, held 10.5 billion USD worth of assets, and took home 286 million USD in profits.
The second mobile operator to go live in Saudi Arabia was Mobily. E& owns 28% of it. The Saudi National Fiber Network project is 66% owned by Mobily. In 2021, the company’s net profits increased by 36.9% to $286 million from 2020.
Oman Telecommunications Company
Oman Telecommunications Company is the first telecommunications firm in Oman and the main internet service supplier. Omantel is 51% owned by the Omani government. In 2008, Omantel purchased 65% of WorldCall Pakistan. According to Forbes, in 2022, the company brought in 6.3 billion USD, held 19.7 billion USD worth of assets, and took home 608 million USD in profits.
A joint stock company listing on the Muscat Securities Market is Omantel. The Oman Investment Authority owns 51% of it. Omantel invests in more than 20 submarine cable systems worldwide and uses fiber optic cables to connect with its neighbors. Omantel is the GCC’s first business to install an AAE-1 submarine cable in Marseille, France.
These telecom giants are running the game in the MENA region. They have invested time and money in keeping the industry up to date. These companies stayed afloat during the pandemic and allowed the masses to keep up their communications for personal relations and business.
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