The award of the licence, expected in April 2003, will effectively bring an end to the monopoly enjoyed by Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) over a small but lucrative market. There are already 300,000 GSM subscribers in Bahrain, accounting for nearly half of the population. The authority was established as the independent regulator for the sector on 23 October.

‘There are no restrictions on the nature or nationality of applicants, and inward investment will be welcomed by Bahrain,’ said Mohammed Alghatam, the chairman of the authority. ‘Clearly, a combination of local capital and foreign expertise may prove attractive to some applicants.’