“We are bidding for a Lebanon licence,” says Nasser al-Merri, deputy chairman of Noor Financial Investment.

At least 10 telecoms operators have told the Lebanese telecoms regulator that they intend to bid for a licence. Five Arab operators have confirmed they will bid. They are the UAE’s Etisalat, Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, Qatar’s Qtel, Saudi Telecom and Kuwait’s Zain.

The state-owned networks are currently managed by Zain and Alfa, a joint venture of Deutsche Telekom and Saudi Arabia’s Fal Holdings.