GCC communication ministers have indicated that regional telecom companies will be given priority in the bidding process for forthcoming telecoms projects across the six nations. In a joint statement released at the GCC summit held on 12-13 September in Jeddah, the ministers said that they would be pushing for regional governments to select local telecoms operators ahead of international firms. In all four Gulf countries to have liberalised their mobile markets, GCC operators have been awarded the second licence.
However, the more formal move will be of interest to companies such as the UAE's Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), which was recently awarded the second GSM licence in Saudi Arabia and is also weighing up its options for the rest of the region (see Cover Story). Qatar Telecom (Q-Tel), Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco)and Kuwait's MTChave also responded to the end of their local monopoly by looking at regional expansion. A second announcement from the summit was good news for consumers. The GCC nations agreed to reduce by as much as 40 per cent telephone call rates between member nations.