‘A Call To Web Calls’ From Kuwait


by Amer Al-Hilal
Reprinted from Arab Times (10th March, 2007)

The Kuwait Ministry of Communications apparently is not familiar with globalization, the shrinking ‘world village’ and the communications revolution sweeping the world. The bureaucratic, backward MOC mentality is stuck in a 1985 time warp. As reported the last few days, the Ministry of Communications has blocked Internet Telephony Services. One could see this particular train wreck coming ever since one of the MOC Under-Secretaries complained a few months ago of losing “20 million KD” in revenue per year due to the Net services.

But let us ponder the issue at hand what is KD 20 million to the MOC? Is this amount more important than allowing our expatriates and businesses to communicate in a swifter, less expensive manner via the net? The majority of citizens in Kuwait are expatriates, and many of them rely on services like Net To Phone because they cannot pay the exorbitant prices by the MOC. These tactics by the MOC are akin to Mafia extortion tactics (arrests, intimidation, blocked sites), forcing citizens to use high cost, sub par services. We are dealing with basic human rights here, the right to communicate with family and friends and not pay outrageous prices.

I am positive tens of millions more get wasted due to corruption and mismanagement at the MOC. The Kuwait international rates are among the highest in the Middle East and the world, technology is catching up; internet telephony services are one day going to make charges obsolete, so the MOC needs to ‘get with the program’ : preparing itself for its essential and eventual transformation from a traditional, bloated, pedantic government bureaucracy to an “Authority” that provides services and quality control.

Thousands of people are moving away from landlines (part of a global trend) and obtaining mobile numbers (they are the real MOC revenue-killer) – does the MOC intend to sue Wataniya and MTC as well?

Former MOC Minister Masouma Mubarak should have spent more time attempting to ‘fix’ Kuwait Airways (which is now being sued by 17 stranded passengers in Thailand) than trying to milk every last cent out of poor expatriates and citizens attempting to communicate with others via the Net (I sincerely look forward to a high-tech, pioneering technocrat being offered the MOC portfolio, not Ms. Mubarak again). I also hope expatriates and their representatives in Kuwait help pressure the MOC to revers its course.

For a ministry that has proclaimed its willingness to ‘reform,’ ‘modernize’ and avail Kuwait of the latest technological developments in the Communications field, it has failed miserably to keep up with modern trends, limit ISP charges and upgrade its digital and broadband services to be on par with most modern states. The MOC needs to move away from its bureaucratic, inefficient and intrusive Orwellian world into the 21st century.

16 thoughts on “‘A Call To Web Calls’ From Kuwait

  1. I dont know why Kuwait is not following other ‘developed’ nations. Do they need the peanuts from telco business to feed its population? open up the market!!! let lot of business come in…cheap communication means more and more opportunities…let there be more competition…reduce the call rates…its ridiculous to see 150 fils to USA and triple to that to countries that are geographically near. In this globlized economy its pretty much idiotic to be against the flow..you have to be in the flow to get succeeded. You have to interdependent and cannot stay independent!

  2. It’s particularly idiotic when it is unenforceable – we have all these tech geniuses who can do a work-around in a heartbeat. What are they thinking??
    And thanks, friend Hilaliya, for your support and gravitas behind this. Hooooooahhhhhh.

  3. Absolutely Cyber, and the problem is the MOC is attempting to regulate services *and* compete against local and international entities – it is the biggest aggressor against anti-monopoly laws in Kuwait.

  4. Aye Intlxpatr, Kuwait possesses formidable IT expertise, young men and women, local and expatriate, who given the chance and the right infrastructure could make miracles.
    The government in Kuwait really needs to get out of people’s lives and let the market decide how and what it wants to execute.

  5. ughhh more beaurocrats passing the buck and blaming someone else for their own failures. and punishing the poor while theyre at it!
    i made a stink on my blog 😀
    but uhh i think i have like 2 regulars so dont know how much of a stink it’ll be 😐

  6. Hi Bro Amer! Hope you doing good!
    Kuwait, such a small country can implement these kinda things easily..especially when having a lot of money from the 70$/barrel. Its not Taiwan which should show us that they can have a free wifi phone mesh service in the country…we dont have cell number portability…we dont have low cost internet…..government needs to put something in place so that it can better the life of people living in such a beautiful country…there may be a lot of -ves about kuwait..but the majority of +ves outnumber / thwart all the negatives…whateva its I love Kuwait.

  7. dear hilaliya
    corruption or mismanagement is not the issue here.
    you have missed the major reason for them killing the internet phone service,
    it is the harassment part.
    as many of you which tried the service knows that it hides your number, thus showing “NO ID” or “UNKNOWN” or “+0”
    you know well that 10/20 mill is a spec of dust in Kuwait’s economy.
    pls, open your mind.

  8. MOC sux!! Big time… the problem with them and most ministries is that they do not know their priorities!! they focus on small bits and pieces without looking at the big picture wake up!!!!!!!

  9. An interesting piece here – http://www.albawaba.com/en/countries/Kuwait/210496 :
    “In contrast to a competitive mobile telecom sector, the fixed-line telecom business in Kuwait is still government owned. However, currently Kuwait is without a telecommunications regulatory authority (TRA) and is the only country in GCC not to have a TRA. At present, the Ministry of Communications (MoC) is responsible for regulatory matters for telecommunications in the country.”
    Need I say more?

  10. I am an expat living in Kuwait and was very thankful and impressed with your article, one that has come to highlight some of the injustices towards expats (who earn a very low living in Kuwait) and who cannot afford the indecently high MOC international rates.
    Thank you!

  11. I am a UAE expat and I have to say that your MOC belongs in another era, since it is unable and unwilling to offer competitive prices or services.
    I agree with one of the posters above…you cannot be a provider of a service and also use your clout to eradicate potential competitors entering the market, as well as being unwilling to offer competitive prices and services.
    By UAE standards (Etisalat etc) your ISP charges are quite high as well.

  12. We need to strike outside parliament, and speak up about this terrible monopoly!
    We are paying extorsion amount just for a shitty dsl service.
    why are we paying the kings ransom just for crap service??

  13. MoC Authorities and the Ministry Concerned must think that the “Picnic Is Over” It’s high time they start thinking SMART way! Or loose Millions that’s milked from Expatriates over the years!!!!
    Compare the rates of other countries?
    Reduce rates 50% more; give prompt, fast & efficient service – then you will see where the money comes from!!!
    As an expatriate you pay high international call rates; when you call for any complaint service/go to the communication ministry; the treatment is ridiculous!!

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