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Qatari-owned mobile phone subsidiary Wataniya expands into Gaza Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Qatari-owned mobile phone subsidiary Wataniya expands into Gaza

Wataniya has been operating in the occupied West Bank since 2009. [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 October, 2017

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Wataniya Mobile, a subsidiary of Qatar's Ooredoo telecommunications company, launched operations in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday as part of a multi-million dollar investment in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Wataniya Mobile, a subsidiary of Qatar's Ooredoo telecommunications company, launched operations in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in a move which will see hundreds of millions of dollars invested in mobile phone networks in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Until now Gaza had only been served by one operator, Jawwal, which was launched in the occupied territories in 1999.

Wataniya has been operating in the West Bank since 2009.

"This was the largest investment that Gaza has known in nearly two decades," Wataniya Mobile CEO Durgham Maraee said.

"We hope our success in Gaza would encourage others to invest in Gaza like us."

Palestinian and Qatari officials attended the announcement event at a Gaza City hotel on Monday.

Both Jawwal and Wataniya do not offer 3G internet services, pending a political deal with Israel which controls Palestinian telecommunications frequencies.

In 2015, Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed a preliminary deal granting 3G service to the West Bank only, excluding Gaza, but the service has not yet begun in either area.

Allam Moussa, the PA Minister of Telecommunications, said a meeting was held with Israeli officials on Monday to discuss allowing 3G equipment to enter Gaza.

"The service will be launched in the West Bank soon and we have started talks about Gaza," he said.

Wataniya's expansion had been held up by the political divide between the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, dominated by Fatah, and Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement last week to end a decade-long split following talks mediated by Egypt in Cairo, with President Mahmoud Abbas calling it a "final" accord.

The Ramallah-based PA government will retake control of the Gaza Strip from Hamas by December 1 under the terms of the deal.

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