The purpose of this paper is to review how the Arab states individually and especially collectively have tackled the question of persistently high charges for international mobile roaming.
The approach takes the form of a review of the decisions and decision‐making processes of the League of Arab States, of the Gulf Cooperation Council and of certain of its member states in the matter of international mobile roaming charges.
The weaknesses of partial liberalisation and of flawed systems of governance of telecommunications markets at the national level are compounded at trans‐national level by divergence of interest. Lack of experience in dealing with consumer issues and competitive analysis have limited the ability of institutions to respond.
Data on roaming markets are very limited, making analysis difficult. Transparency of decision making by international institutions is often weak or selective.
The decision to try to use price caps neglected the opportunity to try to complement the actions of Zain in abolishing roaming surcharges.
The regulators and ministers have pursued their own interests with little regard for consumers. They have failed to quantify the likely benefits of their proposed price caps on roaming charges.
This paper complements others on different regions. It sheds some light on telecommunications in the Arab world, a subject which is infrequently addressed in the academic literature.
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