Telecoms & ITC
Mideast shifts from analog to IP-based video surveillance
The Middle Eastern surveillance market will be driven by strong demand for video surveillance equipment in the larger regional markets, IMS Research said in its latest edition of the "Middle East Market for CCTV and Video Surveillance Equipment". In Saudi Arabia, large infrastructure projects in hospitals, schools, and airports will drive network video surveillance penetration. Large banking projects have also been confirmed in Kuwait for 2012 and 2013, while the construction industry in the UAE is expected to see improvements towards 2015 and 2016, IMS said. While the Middle East is not the first region to tip in favor of network video surveillance, it is one of the first outside of Western Europe and North America to do so, it added. IMS estimates that the tipping point when network video surveillance sales overtake analog video surveillance sales has already occurred in the Middle East. The company said the network video surveillance equipment accounted for 53 percent of video surveillance equipment in 2011. Turkey, the largest market in the Middle East, is still mainly serviced by analog equipment. However, due to a number of infrastructure and transportation projects, the penetration of network video in Turkey will increase significantly toward 2016. Market analyst and report author Oliver Philippou said "with less impact from the 2008 economic slowdown than expected due to the conservative nature of the Islamic banking system and an increase in global oil demands, many regions of the Middle East have continued to see massive infrastructure projects. This has led to acceleration in the transition from analogue to network video surveillance technologies." Philippou added: "With some countries, including Turkey, still predominantly installing analogue equipment, this transition is just getting started. Network video surveillance equipment is forecast to account for 79 percent of network and analogue video surveillance equipment sales in the Middle East by 2016."
Source: Saudi Gazette
YouTube launches Ramadan-themed channel
Video-sharing site YouTube will launch an online channel dedicated to Ramadan-theme programming, it was announced today. The service, which will broadcast shows the same day they air on television, is a joint venture with sponsor Unilever through its brands Lipton and Knorr. According to a statement from YouTube, which is owned by search giant Google, shows will be categorized, allowing users to browse by genre and title. Internet users in the Middle East and North Africa watch an average of 167m YouTube videos a day, ranking the region as the second globally in terms of views. It is the first time YouTube had rolled a channel specifically for the Islamic holy month. A preview of upcoming shows is already available on youtube.com/Ramadan. Ramadan is due to start later this month, most likely July 20 or July 21.
Makkah set to become smart city
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah development project for Makkah will benefit all Muslims and will transform Makkah into a modern smart city, said Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, after visiting an exhibition of Makkah projects here Tuesday. Prince Salman commended the efforts of King Abdullah for the developments of Makkah. "The Saudi government considers it a great honor to serve the Two Holy Mosques." He emphasized the Kingdom's endeavors to ensure the security and comfort of the millions of pilgrims who come to the holy places every year to perform Haj and Umrah. The crown prince hoped that the King Abdullah development project for Makkah would be implemented in the best form. He praised the efforts of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal in developing Makkah and other cities in the region. The new development plan for Makkah is expected to cost SR 100 billion. According to Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar, a record six million foreign pilgrims are expected to perform Umrah this year. At present there are nearly 500,000 foreign pilgrims from 70 countries in Makkah. Hajjar commended the various services being extended to pilgrims by the Interior and Foreign ministries, as well as governorates. Prince Khaled briefed the crown prince earlier on the major projects being implemented in the region. On arrival to the exhibition, Prince Salman was greeted by Prince Khaled, Deputy Gov. Abdul Aziz Al-Khodairy, Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar, and Sami Barhameen, secretary-general of the Makkah Development Authority. Addressing a brief ceremony on the occasion, Prince Khaled thanked the crown prince for visiting the exhibition. "It shows our leadership's keen support for the development projects," the governor said, adding that a number of new projects are being implemented in Makkah to make it a smart city. Prince Salman and other participants later watched a documentary on the King Abdullah development project for Makkah. Prince Salman admired the new Makkah projects. The crown prince was accompanied by a number of princes and top officials including Prince Saud bin Naif, head of the crown prince's court, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, assistant minister of petroleum and minerals and Prince Muhammad bin Salman, special adviser. Last year King Abdullah launched the largest expansion of the Grand Mosque in history, which will increase the mosque's capacity to more than 2.5 million worshippers and cost SR 80 billion. King Abdullah dedicated the new expansion to the Islamic world. Saleh Al-Hosain, former head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, praised experts at Saudi universities for preparing the best environmentally friendly designs for the expansion, while incorporating high safety standards. "As King Abdullah wished, the Islamic world as a whole will be proud of the new expansion project," Al-Hosain said. A documentary screened during the ceremony said the expansion's main gate would be named after King Abdullah and will have two minarets, bringing the mosque's total number of minarets to 11. Muhammad Al-Khozaim, vice president of the presidency, said the new project, covering 400,000 sq. meters in the northwest and northeast of the mosque, was the project of the century. Abdul Mohsen Bin Humaid, director of projects, said the new project would be completed in a year and a half.
Source: Arab News
Etisalat posts 17% rise in Q2 net profit
Etisalat, the Abu Dhabi-based Telco with operations in 16 countries, on Wednesday announced a net profit after federal royalty of AED1.9bn ($517m) for the second quarter of 2012. The figure represented growth of three percent over the previous quarter, and a year-on-year growth of 17 percent on quarterly Group consolidated revenue of AED8.252bn, an increase of four percent year-on-year. The company, the Gulf's No 2 telecom operator, said in a statement that revenue from international operations grew by 14 percent to AED2.3bn. In the UAE, revenues declined by 0.4 percent to AED5.643bn due to lower voice revenues in both mobile and fixed segments. Etisalat said it was focusing on creating value in high population, high growth markets such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It added that it maintained a solid financial position with a consolidated cash balance of AED10.5bn, leading to a positive net cash balance of AED5.2bn. Etisalat chairman Eissa al-Suwaidi said: "We have seen a year-on-year increase of 20.5 percent in operating profit and 17 percent net profit on the back of strong market development in Egypt, Benin, Gabon, Togo, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, a result of our on-going commitment to regional market development and growth. "Our strategy is clear. Following the industry trend to invest in overseas markets over the past decade, we are now focusing on creating value in high population, high growth markets such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. "Our network readiness in these markets, coupled with the introduction of innovative data services, is key drivers to economic growth. Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, group CEO, Etisalat, added: "By consolidating our successful overseas expansion strategy with the introduction of new future-proof network technologies such as FTTH and LTE, we are confident that this positive growth trend will continue. "We will continue to focus on providing innovative customer-oriented solutions that deliver a premium experience both in local and overseas markets to help transform the communities in which we operate and to accelerate social development and economic growth." Etisalat Group said aggregate subscriber numbers grew to 172 million by end of June, 22 percent up on the year-earlier figure, and two percent up on the previous quarter. It added that subscriber growth was mainly driven by new product and services in matured markets and by further market penetrations in growth markets. In the UAE, its active subscriber base grew to 8.9 million, a rise of seven percent year-on-year, and two percent up on Q1. Fixed line subscribers reached 1.1 million, down eight percent while internet subscribers grew by nine percent to 0.8 million.
Etisalat may up stake in Saudi’s Mobily
Etisalat, the UAE number one Telco, may raise its holding in Saudi Arabia affiliate Mobily, the firm's CEO said on Wednesday, in what could give a major boost to its bottom line if it took a majority stake. The former monopoly is also undertaking a review of all its operations across the 17 countries in which it operates, Ahmad Julfar told Reuters, as it seeks to boost returns to shareholders following a multibillion dollar foreign expansion over the past decade that has so far added little to the bottom line. This overhaul may include selling some of its African subsidiary Atlantique Telecom units, but Etisalat has put on hold plans to offload its 13 percent stake in Indonesia's XL Axiata, Julfar said. He also said the company would decide by the year end whether to take an impairment charge on affiliate Pakistan Telecommunication (PTCL), for which it originally paid US$2.6bn for a 26 percent stake but is now worth about US$150m according to market value on Karachi SE. At present Etisalat does not fully consolidate Mobily's earnings because it owns only a 27-28 percent stake in Saudi's No.2 operator. Mobily reported a 22 percent rise in second-quarter profit to SAR1.42bn (US$379m) last week, while its 2011 annual profit was SAR5.08bn. Etisalat made an annual profit of AED5.8bn (US$1.58bn) last year. Julfar said Etisalat may also raise its stakes in other affiliates that operate in high growth, high population markets such as Nigeria and Pakistan. "We have less than 50 percent (stakes) in Saudi, Nigeria, and Pakistan," said Julfar. "[We] will be working to increase value for our shareholders as well as contributing to the social and economic development of those countries. If increasing our stake will address those three things, then definitely we will be pursuing increasing our stakes in those three markets. "We are studying that option for Saudi Arabia." Mobily has a market value of US$12.3bn, according to Reuters data, while analysts say Saudi bourse rules do not prevent a foreign company taking majority control of a locally listed firm.