Dubai, 30 November 2022 - The RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC), the regional Internet registry for Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia, and the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority of the United Arab Emirates (TDRA) hosted the sixth government roundtable for Arab ICT ministers and heads of regulatory authorities on 23 November 2022 at the Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). High-level government delegations from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Lebanon, Qatar, Iraq and the League of Arab States attended the event.
The roundtable discussion, which was held under the theme ‘Digital infrastructures: ensuring secure networks and supporting sustainable development in the Arab countries,’ addressed the obstacles the region's nations face in developing a sustainable and secure Internet. The roundtable discussed ways to increase the connectivity and security of the Internet, such as continuing the deployment of IPv6 to meet the massive demand for connectivity, employing RPKI to ensure the safety of networks, and building IXPs to enhance peering, lower operational costs and reduce reliance on external networks.
In addition to digital infrastructures, there were discussions about collaboration at regional and international venues on public policy, given the significance of its impact on Internet fragmentation.
In his opening address, HE Abdulrahman Almarzooqi, Director of Public Policy and programs at TDRA, stressed the necessity of such dialogue and high-level discussions and pointed out the importance of hosting such a quality-focused event in the United Arab Emirates, which reflects TDRA’s efforts in supporting Internet development in the country and the region. He added: “Regional and international cooperation has never been as necessary and urgent as it is now. We have important strategic issues to examine and discuss; we have many headlines that represent opportunities and challenges at the same time. Therefore, this roundtable represents an important framework for working together for common goals by having better Internet infrastructure to accelerate the digital transformation in the Arab countries.”
In her speech, Ms Eva Nadir, a member of the executive board at the Communications and Media Commission (CMC) 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. She said: “I am pleased to share with you that with our joint efforts, commitment and participation in delivering what was agreed upon during the RIPE NCC government roundtable in its fifth version, virtually held and hosted by CMC, we can recognise progress across multiple topics discussed, including increasing capacity-building initiatives and knowledge sharing, strong IPv6 adoption and improvement of routing security.”
HE Eng. Basil Al-Ayoubi, Director General of Investment and Maintenance at the Ministry of Telecommunications in Lebanon, stated that Lebanon had launched numerous initiatives to develop the Internet sector at the infrastructural and project level. However, the current circumstances of the country have led to a decrease in investments in the sector, and projects have been halted. He added: “Despite the challenges we are facing, we are moving forward with our plans to transition towards IPv6, and we were the first country in the region to adopt this version in 2016, in line with our strategic partnership with the RIPE NCC.”
Hans Petter Holen, Managing Director of the RIPE NCC, thanked TDRA for hosting the roundtable and praised Arab regulators' role in complementing the RIPE NCC’s efforts in the region. He added: “The promise of an Internet that will bring innovation, growth and social prosperity will only be met through trust and collaboration with each other. The responsibility lies on all of us, and I am sure that we can take it together. Otherwise, we will face a situation where we risk undoing all our progress in the region over the past years.”
Piotr Strzyżewski, a RIPE NCC Executive Board member, closed the opening session: “The hosting of the sixth roundtable and our cooperation with TDRA reflects the RIPE NCC's commitment to building a secure digital infrastructure and advancing the Internet in the Middle East region. TDRA has proven to be a great partner and contributor to the success of the roundtable and plays a remarkable role in developing the Internet and economic growth in the UAE and the wider region. We are proud of this collaboration and applaud TDRA's efforts.”
Also present was HE Eng. Tareq Al Awadi, Head of the Arab team at the International Telecommunication Union, and the rest of his team. Discussions focused on collaboration regarding public policy at regional and international venues, especially the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), given the significance of public policy in supporting efforts to develop and secure the Internet and avoid its fragmentation.
Experts from the RIPE NCC and TDRA contributed to the roundtable discussions. Chafic Chaya started by discussing collaboration with the region’s governments and sharing the challenges addressed at the Fifth Government Roundtable meeting hosted by the Iraqi regulator, CMC, and the actions taken during the year in response.
Jad El-Cham led a discussion about topics including challenges and opportunities for Internet development and sustainability in Arab countries, IPv6 deployment to support business development and the digital economy, Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI) and routing security, and the role of regional Internet exchange points (IXPs) in traffic and data exchange.
In his turn, Meshal Al Muhairi, Director of Digital Policy Development at TDRA, showcased the mutual efforts and development of digital infrastructure in the UAE.
Other important topics raised during the meeting were strengthening collaboration on public policy and the RIPE NCC's role in supporting policymakers and regulators. Hisham Ibrahim and Chafic Chaya pointed out the significance of enhancing collaboration in public policy to support policymakers and regulators in Arab countries.
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 by provisioning IP address registration, maintaining critical infrastructure, contributing to Internet routing security and offering capacity development. Over the past few years, the RIPE NCC and TDRA have been tirelessly working to improve the Internet's infrastructure through joint capacity-building initiatives and collaboration.
You can also view this press release in Arabic.
For more information, please contact:
Public Policy and Government Affairs, Middle East Region, RIPE NCC
RIPE NCC - Dubai office
Tel: +971 4 364 94 59
Mobile: +971 55 27 07 007
Email: [email protected]