New fibre optic network will pass through Iraq and Turkey
Qatar and Kuwait have thrown money behind an ambitious project to build a new Gulf internet cable network. This will help combat the growing risk of cyber-sabotage in a politically tense region that has already seen some high-profile attacks.
The new fibre optic network – set to go live next week – passes through Iraq and Turkey in an effort to give Gulf telecoms operators an alternative web traffic route to Europe, reducing the risk of connection disruptions.
“Operators do not want to have a single point of failure for their international connectivity,” says Jawad Abbassi, general manager of Amman-based Arab Advisors Group, a telecoms consultancy. “They want to have multiple routes to span multiple jurisdictions, if something technical or non-technical complicates matters.”
The system is part-financed by the sovereign wealth funds of Qatar and Kuwait. It is part of a broader plan by Gulf telecom operators to account for booming demand for the web, at the same time bolstering their defences against sabotage or unintended damage.
There is also the danger that cables running through the Strait of Hormuz could be vulnerable to any escalation of tension with Iran.
There are also significant connectivity risks in some countries, such as Qatar and Kuwait, where fewer cables are landed than in neighbours such as Oman and the UAE.