Under the agreement between Jordan's Mobilecom, Kuwait's Wataniya, Qatar's Qtel and Bahrain's Batelco, subscribers roaming in any of the alliance countries will be able to access all the services their home firm provides.

Entitled Middle East Value-Added Service Alliance, the group hopes to promote future multimedia services, internet access, content services and seamless roaming between the individual national markets in the region, said Mobilecom CEO Michael Ghussain.

Roaming facility

"Pre-paid line subscribers can now roam freely in the countries of the alliance and receive the same range of services they do at home, in addition to GPRS roaming," he added.

"Pre-paid line subscribers can now roam freely in the countries of the alliance and receive the same range of services they do at home, in addition to GPRS roaming"

Michael Ghussain,
CEO of Jordan's Mobilecom

The alliance would also be open to any interested mobile communication company in the Arab world provided competitors within the same countries had the approval of their current ally, explained Batelco general manager Ian Dench.

The four founder members currently serve in excess of three million mobile phone customers in the region, with networks operating in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia and Jordan.

Experts put the total number of mobile phone users in the region at about 25 million. The figure is expected to double by 2005.