20 Apr 2004
The United Arab Emirates’ former monopoly operator Emirates Telecommunications Co (Etisalat) reported steady growth for the first three months of 2004, with year-on-year revenue and profits rising by 12% and 19% respectively to AED2.46 billion (USD664.2 million) and AED821.6 million (USD22.34 million). Earlier this month the UAE authorities opened the country’s telecoms market to competition after issuing a presidential decree which cancelled the monopoly held by 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.