Ministers discuss formation of Arab Telecom Union
The 20th session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Communication and Information concluded in Abu Dhabi. The event was attended by telecommunication ministries delegates from 16 Arab countries. HE Yaser al-Kadi, Egyptian Telecommunications Minister, opened the meeting with a speech following his role as chairman of the 19th session and concluded his address with a handover of the chairmanship to UAE Minister of State HE Rashid Bin Fahad, who is the chairman of the current Council meeting.
The meeting has issued a set of decisions and recommendations raised by the Council’s executive committee, which met on the first day. The decisions included acknowledging the UAE’s proposal to establish the Arab Telecommunications Union, which aims to unify the efforts of Arab countries in the sector. The General Secretariat has suggested to summarise the UAE’s plan to the concerned Arab departments, in addition to the working group, which will review the structure of the General Secretariat as part of the study following the UAE’s vision for the sector.
The meeting proceeded with reports on the current developments concerning the UAE registration of the .Arab domain name in collaboration with the Arab League. The Council has instructed the UAE and the General Secretariat to pursue the plan and submit the application requirements before the end of the first quarter of 2017, including the notification to ICANN, international private non-profit entity responsible for the registration of internet domain names. The Council meeting also approved for the UAE to head the Arab committee responsible for the preparations for the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2017 which will take place in Argentina. The event is one of the biggest conferences in ICT development organised by the International Telecommunications Union.
The participants commended the UAE for its initiative to issue the Unified Arab Stamp and urged other Arab countries to continue coordinating the issuance of the stamp. It also acknowledged the Tunisian Post’s expression of interest to host a philatelic exhibition in Sfax City, considering its role as the Arab World’s culture capital for 2016. It also addressed the issue of the Palestinians and have agreed to invite Palestine to consider submitting its application to the Universal Postal Union UPU to amend the country’s status in UPU to participate in the next UPU conference. The meeting also expressed its support to Palestine’s demands in the Union.
The meeting also addressed the Regional Development Plan for the Arab World 2013-2016 and has invited the various Arab post departments to submit their development projects to secure relevant resources and coordinate with UPU for review. UPU is expected to communicate with the postal agencies if they find a suitable funding source for the implementation of the projects. The Council also urged the group to begin the preparations for the regional development plans which will be submitted after the UPU conference.
As Arab countries have been invited to actively participate and provide technical contributions in the meeting of the study committees for radio communications in the ITU, the Arab Spectrum Management Group has also called for the Arab countries to involve radio communication devices producers and operators to become part of the delegation that could review technical notes and opinions, suggestions and recommendations. It also sought the Arab countries to open new services and study the feasibility for new bandwidths to keep pace with growth in ICT while considering the importance of national security. It also urged Arab countries to support the participation of international organisations and companies in conferences related to the Arab Spectrum Management Group.
The meeting has recognised the importance of supporting the Egyptian nomination for the vice presidency post at the study committee for standardisation within the ITU. The election will be held during the upcoming International Conference for Standardisation in Tunisia in November 2016.
The ministerial conference concluded with the submission of various Arab initiatives to the conference. The Council has directed the review of the initiatives achieved by the group, which will be submitted during the next international conference for telecommunications.
The ministerial council has also noted the importance of following the respective domains of various Arab countries and ensuring that the .Arab domain name would not be utilised negatively. It urged the need for vigilance and constant communication with the responsible entities such as ICANN to avoid providing any name that negatively affect Arab nations.
It has agreed on the importance of coordinating with various Arab departments to take a united decision concerning the domain name registration considering the political, geographical and cultural aspect of every nation, and Arab countries importance to communicate aiming to unified the visions related with services and applications.
The Arab ministers also agreed to establish a regional transport network and continue commissioning Lebanon to prepare the required studies and coordinate with the Arab departments for this project particularly with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to formulate the initial framework for the communication network. It noted the importance of encouraging the ministries and related departments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE to seek telecom operators’ full collaboration to implement the regional connecting project for Arab internet networks.
The council has welcomed suggestions organising a joint meeting for Arab telecommunications and education ministers in 2017 to discuss and suggest a regional plan to develop smart learning in the Arab region and form the technical secretariat which will collaborate with the group for this initiative.
The plan aims to recognise the role of youth in developing the ICT sector. The Council has agreed on the importance of a technical secretariat to communicate with various Arab departments and facilitate the submission of suggestions and programmes related with smart learning.
HE Rashid Bin Fahad said, “Arab nations need to find the depth of its strength and resources to transform those resources as development generators. One of the most notable resources noted in the meeting can be seen in the ICT sector, which can provide the channel to communicate the dreams of many citizens in the Arab World, positively working together with new technologies, from being consumers to become producers of knowledge and science.”
“This meeting brings more hope to promote the sustainable development agenda, which is a common goal for all of humanity, including the Arab nations, especially after the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 have been adopted, composed of 17 proposed goals and targets covering various sectors,” he added.