Pan-Arab mobile user base reaches 30 million mark

According to a new market study, mobile phone subscriptions in 18 Arab countries have reported growth rates of 9.92% at the end of June 2003, compared to the increase in fixed lines of just 3.57%.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  January 28, 2004

Mobile phone penetration has accelerated further in the Arab world following a growth rate of 9.92 % at the end of June 2003, compared to the increase in fixed lines of just 3.57 %. According to a new market study, mobile phone subscriptions in 18 Arab countries stood at 29,431,600 (nearly 30 million) at the end of June 2003, whereas landline subscriptions stood at 24,88,300. In sharp contrast, the number of internet users in the 18 Arab countries researched in the survey stood at just 10,245,600, according to the study conducted by Dubai-based Madar Research Group. “The rapid penetration of mobile phones does not come as a surprise to market insiders. With reduced subscription costs, cheaper handsets, accessories and value added services, mobile phones are going beyond mere communication functions,” says Bashar Dahabra, founder and CEO, Info2cell.com, one of the region’s leading wireless information service provider. “The figure of 30 million subscribers is still minimal for the vast Middle East and North Africa region. The recent launch of the Multimedia Message Service (MMS) using the Wireless Application Service Provider (WASP) platform heralds further growth for the mobile phone industry,” adds Dahabra. According to the study, the UAE has 2.65 million mobile phone subscribers, against 1.11 million fixed line subscribers, for a population of 3.7 million. Bahrain has 400,000 mobile phone subscribers, against 178,000 landlines, with a population of 728,000. Kuwait has 1.5 million mobile subscribers, against 485,000 landlines. Saudi Arabia has 6 million mobile phone users, against 3.43 million fixed lines, with a population of 23.89 million. The report also highlights that less developed Arab countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Sudan, Iraq and Libya, have more landlines than mobile phones. “We foresee a tremendous demand for the value added services being offered over mobile phones, and we can see that more innovative services will be added to the ones currently available,” said Dahabra. The vendor hopes that as new mobile technologies such as MMS, GPRS, 3G and GPRS mature the mobile phone will be evolve from communication to a primary source of information and entertainment device. The 18 Arab countries covered in the Madar survey were the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Oman, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Iraq and Sudan.

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