In September, an Etisalat spokesman said the company expected to launch mobile phone services in a new country shortly but did not name the country.

However, in a statement issued on 8 October, Omran said: “It is Iraq but it is not yet finalised. We will shortly announce it.”

Korek was one of three companies to win a mobile phone licence in Iraq in August 2007. The Kurdish company, Kuwait’s Zain and Asiacell, which is partly backed by the Qatari operator Qtel, each bid $1.2bn for a licence.

Etisalat chief executive officer Mohammad al-Qamzi said in February that the company was interested in buying a stake in Korek Telekom.