The two telecoms operators signed a memorandum of understanding on 2 July.

They will begin by jointly investing in new submarine cables between Europe and the Middle East to improve network capacity.

France Telecom already has major stakes in Egypt’s Mobinil and Jordan Telecom, while Etisalat has operations in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The two operators will also build new network infrastructure along the west coast of Africa where both companies hold mobile phone licences.

Etisalat has licences in Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. France Telecom’s network includes Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast.

Etisalat will also sell France Telecom’s home internet terminal, known as Orange Livebox, in the UAE when it finishes upgrading its network with fibre optic cable later this year.