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Global Telecoms Business
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Etisalat plans to establish bi-lingual portal

01 December 1999

Etisalat is the monopoly operator in the United Arab Emirates. Despite economic problems in the region caused by low oil prices, the operator has increased revenues, with net profits rising by 8% in 1998. The CEO of Etisalat, Ali Salim Al Owais, talks to Global Telecoms Business about the operator's cellular, cable TV and Internet strategies.

Etisalat, the monopoly operator in the United Arab Emirates, is 60%-owned by the government and 40% by the public. The operator offers fixed, cellular and Internet services in the third biggest telecoms market in the region in terms of revenue/capita. The operator has constantly increased revenues, with net profits up by 8% in 1998 and expected to rise by 10% in 1999. The operator had a market capitalization of $8.6 billion in April 1999.

The country has a fixed line penetration rate of 40%. The operator expects to install over 100,000 new lines in 1999. At the same time Cellular subscriber numbers have increased to 800,000 today, equivalent to over 30% of the population. It has been estimated that cellular penetration may exceed fixed within the next two years. As demand for wireless data grows, the operator plans to launch trials of WAP and GPRS in the second quarter of 2000.