The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority announced the decision on 5 November. It had previously set a deadline of 13 November for bids.

In a statement, the regulator said that the deadline had been put back “following requests from the majority of registered parties”.

The delay reduces the likelihood of the regulator announcing who has won the licence before the end of this year.

The statement said, “the revised timetable for the evaluation of bids, the opening of qualified financial bids, and other events will be announced subsequently after all bids are received.”

Bahrain’s two incumbent operators are Batelco and the local subsidiary of Kuwaiti operator Zain.