Guide on Telecom Industry in the UAE

by Zaara 15, Apr 2020

The telecommunication sector in the UAE has become an ever-evolving characterized by opportunities arising from new challenges in our increasingly digitalized world. The industry is continually being disturbed, giving players plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their agility by rapidly adapting their business models to this reality while efficiently leveraging their assets.

Even though the Emirates is one of the most advanced markets in the Middle East, it is the least liberalized with only two telecom operators and little or no foreign investment. Many other nations in the region have permitted operators from the area to buy second and third mobile licenses and in some cases, fixed-line and internet provision licenses.

History and Current Scenario of the Telecom Industry in the UAE

The UAE was united in the year 1971, and the first telco to launch itself within the Emirate was Etisalat, which was then called Emirtel. It was initiated five years after the union of the country in the year 1976. The operator has, over the years, recognized itself as a forerunner in delivering the latest technology to its consumers and driving the digital future. It was the first operator in the MENA region to develop a mobile network.

The other UAE-based operator, du, was formally launched in the year 2007 under its parent company, Emirates Integrated Telecommunication Company (EITC). The operators within this duopoly market very rapidly established themselves through their exceptional customer service capabilities and their capability to become more agile over time inconsistency with the society’s needs.

Telecom Business in the UAE

The Information and Communication sector is regulated by Law No. 2 of the Emirates of the UAE, also known as the Electronic Transaction and Commerce Law. The main regulatory body in the telecommunication sector in the Emirates is the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) which has an office in Dubai. The different licensing option for setting up telecommunication in the UAE is as under –

  • Broadcasting TV License
  • Broadcasting Radio License
  • Publishing License

To set up a telecom business, one needs to get a valid license from TRA in the UAE. You can choose the type of license from one of the above examples.

Apart from this, all the telecom companies providing ICT services must obtain a radio spectrum license from the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority which allows the telecom operator to use specific radio frequencies and wireless equipment, according to certain guidelines. The companies in the UAE may also apply for a temporary license within 90-days validity period for experimental or research purposes. Otherwise, the radio spectrum license has a one-year validity period. All the licensing options are subject to a non-refundable fee.

The companies which are applying for radio spectrum license in the UAE may provide the following services –

  • The public land mobile radio services
  • Paging services
  • Point-to-point or fixed services
  • Wireless and broadband internet services
  • Wireless local area networks
  • Aeronautical and maritime radio services
  • Satellite services

If you want to set up telecom business in one of the Emirates of the UAE, then you can set up this business in Dubai, preferably in Dubai Internet City. The foreign investors will benefit from numerous advantages upon registration of the company.

What Next?

The occurrence of 5G technology marks the vital transformation of mobile technology and connectivity. The next-generation technology offers ultra-low latency, high system capacity, high levels of network reliability, and mobile broadband speeds.

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How many telecom operators are there in UAE, and what are they?

There are two telecom operations in UAE. They are Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC.

How did the telecom industry in UAE grow?

The telecom industry in the UAE is booming with the increase of end-user industry applications and growth in markets, such as cloud, IoT, 5G and data centres.

Who is in charge of the UAE's telecom sector?

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority oversees and regulates the UAE's telecommunications industry (TRA).

What are the consequences of violating telecom laws?

If someone breaks the telecom laws, they will be sentenced to two years in prison. In addition, any business that violates the law will be penalized AED 1 million.


What is the expected record of the UAE telecom market in the upcoming years?

The UAE telecom market is predicted to record a CAGR of 3.5% from 2022-to 2027.

What are the top telecom companies in UAE?

  • Du Telecoms. UAE

  •  Huawei - UAE. UAE, Saudi Arabia

  • Workz Middle East. UAE, Qatar

  • Smartworld. UAE

  • Atlas Telecom. UAE, Saudi Arabia

  • ECS Global Wire & Cable. UAE

Who issues telecom licenses?

 Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).