Two of the biggest network operators and the Middle East are teaming up to change the way data traverses the Middle East. Zain Omantel International and Telecom Egypt announced today that they will build a new open-access digital corridor between the Arabian Sea and the Mediterranean.
Pretty much all the infrastructure that does this today is subsea, going around the Arabian peninsula, up through the Red Sea, and then across a sliver of Egypt on one of two terrestrial paths to the northern coast of Egypt. What’s potentially new here is that ZOI and Telecom Egypt will take a terrestrial route across Oman and Saudi Arabia before crossing the Red Sea on a repeaterless subsea cable and then traversing Egypt. They have plans to extend that infrastructure to Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, and Jordan as well.
The details are rather vague, however. With no map to help envision the project, it isn’t clear how unique the Egyptian terrestrial corridor will be, or just what part of the desert they will go through on the Arabian side of things. But the two companies certainly have the local knowledge to find a way to do it right and bypass the obvious choke points everything seems to go through currently.
The news comes against the backdrop of regional violence, with war in Gaza and Houthi attacks on shipping off of Yemen. From their announcement, the new infrastructure would bypass both areas of instability, which I imagine is not a coincidence.
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