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RIPE NCC and CMC Hold High-Level Government Discussions on Arab Internet Sector

press release middle eastern event

Arabic version PDF

The RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC), in collaboration with the Communications and Media Commission in Iraq (CMC), successfully organized the 5th edition of the RIPE NCC Government Roundtable dedicated to Arab ICT ministries and regulators in the Middle East region on Monday, 13 December. The meeting was held virtually under the theme, “Internet in a Changing Environment”.

The event was attended by ministers, regulators, general directors and high-level governmental delegations from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. 

The meeting was inaugurated by H.E. Arkan Shahab Al-Shaibani, Minister of Communications in Iraq. Minister Al-Shaibani pointed out the significance of such high-level discussions and dialogues and stated: “The topics presented for discussion today are very important to keep pace with the development of the Internet sector in our countries, which requires all of us to join hands and cooperate to reach tangible results. Despite our different priorities, we are certain that this distinguished gathering that brings together decision-makers on one hand and experts on the other hand will meet the desired aspirations of our societies and achieve comprehensive development for our countries. 

In his opening speech, H.E. Dr. Ali Almouayed, CEO of the Communications and Media Commission in Iraq, talked about the challenges that Arab countries face today and the need for cooperation to create suitable conditions for an open, secure and flexible Internet. He said: “This RIPE NCC Government Roundtable has become the region's unique platform for governments and the regulatory community to collaborate on Internet technical and regulatory issues related to Internet number resources. Having the right cooperation environment is an important matter that contributes to overcoming obstacles to the development of the ICT sector, especially the Internet.”

H.E. Saleem Al-Ozianah, Chairman and CEO of the Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Authority in Kuwait (CITRA), highlighted the efforts underway to meet Kuwait’s national strategy “New Kuwait 2035”, which aims to develop and promote investment in communications and information technology, and the use of modern and innovative technology. He added: “I am aware of the wonderful efforts and successful work of our colleagues at the RIPE NCC during the last period, which resulted in tangible progress in several aspects, the most important of which is placing the Arab countries on the world map in terms of transition to IPv6. We thank them for their professionalism and continued support.”

H.E. Raed Alfayez, Deputy Governor for Information Technology and Emerging Technologies, Communications and Information Technology Commission in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (CITC), underlined the important role of Internet during the COVID-19 pandemic and shared some of the Kingdom’s achievements related to Internet usage and speed, network security and IPv6 deployment. He also emphasized the significance of collaboration, stating: “We stressed the importance of collaboration and cooperation between the RIPE NCC and the Arab regulatory authorities that led to the smooth development of Internet infrastructure and its security, supporting other vital sectors.”

H.E. Mohammed Al-Zarooni, Acting Director General, Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority in the United Arab Emirates (TDRA), stressed the important role the Internet plays in supporting and developing societies and economies and shared the country’s achievements in 5G and IPv6 deployment. He praised the RIPE NCC’s efforts: “We recognise that working together and enabling partnerships are key to achieving our common goals and taking us into the future. We at TDRA commend RIPE NCC for its constant support to this mission and we reiterate our commitment to continuing our role as a vital partner in advancing Internet development in the country and throughout the region.”

H.E. Dr. Nayel Aledwan, vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission in Jordan (TRC), said: “Our commission has committed to collaborating with the RIPE NCC to support the development of IPv6. The RIPE NCC has already convened numerous trainings and webinars in Jordan to increase awareness of IPv6 among a variety of stakeholders, including Internet providers and the private sector. Our commission will continue its efforts to encourage the deployment of IPv6.”

H.E. Hans Petter Holen, Managing Director of the RIPE NCC, thanked CMC for virtually hosting the roundtable and praised the role that Arab regulators play in complementing the RIPE NCC’s efforts in the region. He added: “The success of this roundtable for the fifth consecutive year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, shows the importance of the collaboration and cooperation between the RIPE NCC and governments in the region. This roundtable is the perfect venue for an inclusive dialogue, discussing common interest topics, developing solutions, and fostering an enabling environment for a more stable, reliable and secure Internet.”

H.E. Christian Kaufmann, RIPE NCC Executive Board Chairman, closed the opening session: “The Executive Board of the RIPE NCC is very interested in understanding the needs and challenges of the Middle East, especially in terms of Internet development, in order to provide the best support for regulators and operators in this area.”

The discussions  started by sharing the challenges discussed at the 4th Government Roundtable meeting held in Kuwait and the actions taken during the year in response to these challenges. It was presented by Chafic Chaya, Regional Communications Manager at RIPE NCC.

Hisham Ibrahim, Chief Community Officer at RIPE NCC, led and moderated the discussions about the challenges and opportunities facing Internet development and sustainability in Arab countries, IPv6 deployment to support business development and the digital economy, Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI) and network routing security, the role of regional Internet exchange points (IXPs) in traffic and data exchange, adaptive policies and regulatory frameworks for the changing environment, and capacity building for the development of the Internet.

A great line-up of experts contributed to the panel: Sami Daham, director of Internet Service development at CITC; Abdulrhman Almarzouqi, director of Internet Policy and Advancement at TDRA; Marwan Maher, technical manager at CMC; in addition to Marco Hogewoning, Public Policy and Internet Governance Manager; Jad El Cham, Learning and Development Program Manager; and William Johnson, Instructional Designer at the RIPE NCC.

The meeting was also attended by H.E. Omar Hamdan al-Ismaili, CEO, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in Oman (TRA); H.E. Dr Khaled Wali, Minister Plenipotentiary, director of ICT administration at League of Arab States (LAS); HE Maher Al-Saleh, Director of ICT administration, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); H.E. Bassel Al-Ayoubi, Director General of Investment and Maintenance at the Ministry of Telecommunications in Lebanon; and Mirjam Kühne, RIPE Chair, in addition to high-level delegations and representatives from governments and regulatory authorities.

The roundtable event served as a successful follow-up to the previous year's events held in the region. The RIPE NCC endeavours to maintain stable and resilient Internet connectivity through its provisioning of IP address registration, maintaining key infrastructure, contributing to the security of Internet routing and offering capacity development. The online event falls in line with the RIPE NCC's strategy to support governments with the needed technical expertise to serve the wider Internet community.