Wataniya International quits Dubai for Doha

Wataniya International is set to shut its headquarters in Dubai's Media City as of September 1, CommsMEA has learned.

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  June 19, 2007

Wataniya International is set to shut its headquarters in Dubai's Media City as of September 1, CommsMEA has learned.

The closure will affect the 30-strong workforce and follows the acquisition of Kuwait's Wataniya Telecom, parent company of Wataniya International, by Qtel in March.

Wataniya International, which is the holding company for various telecoms investments in Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iraq and the Maldives, will see its operations managed out of Qtel's West Bay headquarters in Doha from September.

It is understood that staff at Wataniya International's Dubai office were offered generous financial and logistical support in order to relocate to Doha. However the company has already lost its CEO, Ahmad Haleem, who chose not to renew his contract upon its conclusion at the end of March. Other staff are also understood to have decided not to relocate and will instead leave the company.

Qtel's only foreign network operator investment in its own right prior to the acquisition of Wataniya Telecom was in Oman's second mobile operator Nawras. Qtel has since made investments in NavLink, a provider of managed data services to businesses in the Middle East, and in Singapore's ST Telemedia's Asia Mobile Holdings.

It is understood that all of Qtel's foreign acquisitions will be pooled under a single holding company, though it remains unclear at this point whether any significant rebranding process will occur as a consequence of the integration.

Qtel had given itself 100 days following the confirmation of its acquisition of Wataniya Telecom at the beginning of March to assess the deal, before detailing its strategy for the integration of the newly acquired entity.

The Qatar incumbent agreed to acquire a 51% stake in Wataniya for a consideration of US$3.7 billion, and speaking in Dubai last month, Jeremy Sell, senior VP business development at Qtel said the company would update the market with respect to its strategy for the integration following the announcement of its Q2 results.

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