The rise of telecom companies (and entrepreneurs) in the Middle East

shutterstock_128863255 cell phone userAnyone who has used their smartphone to make an online purchase or to make a video call knows that recent advances in telecommunications technology and the convenience that it brings is now one of the bedrocks of modern life. In addition, the truly amazing thing about the communications revolution is the way it has quickly developed into a global phenomenon. It first reached the developed nations but is now also becoming firmly established in emerging economies.

Telecoms in the Middle East

As one of the biggest wealth generating regions on the planet over recent decades, parts of the Middle East have benefited from major infrastructure investments; however, because the region is also vast, many areas have fallen behind when it comes to adapting to new technologies in comparison with some other parts of the world.

Recently a full-scale telecommunications overhaul has been taking place in the Middle East. With a group of six Gulf States (The Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC) changing the communications abilities of the region beyond recognition. The GCC members, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, initiated the installation of an inter-regional fiber optic network called FARAJ, which is ensuring telecoms will be future-proofed for many years to come.

Global business

It is no exaggeration to say the globalization of the world of commerce has been built on the worldwide communications network, the Internet. The fact that even SMEs in emerging economies can compete on the world stage by going online has leveled the playing field in so many ways. The process is a two-way street though, as entrepreneurs and businessmen around the world have played a large part in making sure everyone can benefit from new opportunities.

Prime example

A prime example of this can be found in the person of Ehsanollah Bayat, the founder of the Afghan Wireless Communication Company. Not only has Bayat made a significant contribution to his home country by setting up a stable telecommunications infrastructure, he has also introduced new systems and technologies, such as prepaid calling cards, and helped strengthen local economies by giving access to the wider global market.

Bayat has been rightly recognized for the ways he has improved the living standards of millions of people across several countries, receiving honors that include the prestigious 2010 Mahatma Ghandi Humanitarian Award.

Global village

In many ways the world really is getting smaller as more people in every region begin to have access to the advantages of Internet access. As well as sharing knowledge and information, business communities can come together irrespective of distance, and help, support and trade with each other.

A study by Accenture Development Partnerships in association with NetHope found that consumers in emerging markets are increasing in importance for businesses operating across the spectrum. Increased levels of connectivity as provided by the latest GCC initiatives in the Middle East, and the work of individuals such as Bayat, is giving businesses of all sizes the chance to gain access to a truly global marketplace.

Long standing problems facing companies that wish to grow in difficult circumstances, such as limited investment funding, small budgets and poorly trained workforces are becoming less important. Even the application of new forms of trusted payment systems based online are having significant effects and making currency exchange less of a hurdle for both buyers and sellers.

The way that all of this is continuing to interlink economies, countries and cultures can only be a good thing for a world which is becoming ever more interconnected (and more sustainability inclined) with each passing day.

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