The United Arab Emirates’ state-owned national telecoms operator Etisalat has reported profits of AED2.11 billion (USD575 million) for the first half of the year, up 23% on the corresponding period of 2004. The company forecasts that full-year profits will reach AED4 billion (USD1.09 billion), compared with AED3.4 billion last year, according to the English-language Gulf News.
In the last twelve months Etisalat has been ramping up its overseas activity in readiness for the loss of its period of exclusivity on the provision of telecoms services in its home market. In 2004 it was awarded the second mobile licence to provide services in the potentially lucrative Saudi market, and in April this year it snapped up 50% of West African wireless operator Atlantique Telecom. Just last month, Etisalat paid USD2.59 billion for a 26% stake in Pakistan Telecommunications Limited (PTCL), weeks after the government said it had licensed a new rival company with capital of USD1.08 billion.