The authorities of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday opened the country’s telecoms market to competition after issuing a presidential decree which cancelled the monopoly held by Emirates Telecommunications Co (Etisalat) for the past 28 years. A federal order issued by President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan in national newspapers on Monday established two bodies to oversee the licensing of new operators and regulate the restructuring of the market. It also appointed the Minister of Finance and Industry to oversee the government’s 60% share in Etisalat. According to the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the monopoly operator’s market capitalisation peaked at nearly USD13.5 billion at the end of 2003, up from USD10.5 billion a year earlier. As well as operating the country’s national wireline infrastructure, Etisalat currently has over two million GSM subscribers and made a net profit of more than USD780 million last year.