ABU DHABI, 28th September, 2016 (WAM)–The 20th session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Communication and Information, which was attended by telecommunication ministry delegates from 16 Arab countries, concluded in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Yaser al-Kadi, Egyptian Telecommunications Minister, opened the meeting with a speech, following his role as chairman of the 19th session, and concluded his address with a handover of the chairmanship to UAE Minister of State Rashid bin Fahad, who is a chairman of the current Council meeting.
In his speech, Bin Fahad noted, “Arab nations need to find the depth of their strength and resources to transform those resources to generate development. One of the most notable resources mentioned in the meeting can be seen in the ICT sector, which can provide the channel to communicate the dreams of many citizens in the Arab World, positively working together with new technologies – as citizens are transformed from being consumers to becoming producers of knowledge and science.
“This meeting brings more hope to promote the sustainable development agenda, which is a common goal for all of humanity, including the Arab nations, especially after the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 had been adopted– composed of 17 proposed goals and targets covering various sectors,” he added.
The participants approved a set of decisions and recommendations raised by the Council’s executive committee, which met on the first day. The decisions included acknowledging the UAE’s proposal to establish the ‘Arab Telecommunications Union,’ which seeks to unify the efforts of Arab countries in the sector. The General Secretariat has suggested that the UAE’s plan to concerned Arab departments be summarised, in addition to the working group, which will review the structure of the General Secretariat, as part of the study, following the UAE’s vision for the sector.
They also heard reports about current developments concerning the UAE registration of Arab domain names, in collaboration with the Arab League. The Council has instructed the UAE and the General Secretariat to pursue the plan and submit the application requirements before the end of the first quarter of 2017, including the notification to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the international private non-profit entity responsible for the registration of internet domain names.
Members of the Council also approved the UAE to head the Arab committee responsible for the preparations for the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2017, which will take place in Argentina. The meeting is one of the largest conferences in ICT development, organised by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Also, the participants commended the UAE for its initiative to issue the Unified Arab Stamp and urged other Arab countries to continue coordinating in the issuance of the stamp. It also acknowledged the Tunisian Post’s expression of interest to host a philatelic exhibition in Sfax City, given its role as the Arab World’s culture capital for 2016.
Further, they addressed the issue of the Palestinians and agreed to invite Palestine to consider submitting its application to the Universal Postal Union (UPU), to amend the country’s status in the UPU to participate in the next UPU conference. The meeting also expressed its support of Palestine’s demands in the Union.
The meeting also addressed the Regional Development Plan for the Arab World 2013-2016, and has invited various Arab Post Departments to submit their development projects to secure relevant resources and coordinate with UPU for review. UPU is expected to communicate with postal agencies, if they find a suitable funding source for the implementation of the projects. The Council also urged the group to begin preparations for the Regional Development Plans, which will be submitted after the UPU conference.
As Arab countries have been invited to actively participate and provide technical contributions in the meeting of the study committees for radio communications in the ITU, the Arab Spectrum Management Group has also called for Arab countries to involve manufacturers of radio communication devices and operators to become part of the delegation that could review technical notes and opinions, suggestions and recommendations.
It also urged Arab countries to open new services and study the feasibility for new bandwidths, to keep pace with growth in ICT, while considering the importance of national security. Further, it encouraged Arab countries to support the participation of international organisations and companies in conferences related to the Arab Spectrum Management Group.
Additionally, the meeting recognised the importance of supporting the Egyptian nomination for the vice-presidency post, at the study committee for standardization within the ITU. The election will be held during the upcoming International Conference for Standardization in Tunisia in November 2016.
The ministerial conference concluded with the submission of various Arab initiatives to the conference. The Council has directed the review of those initiatives approved by the group, which will be submitted during the next international conference for telecommunications.
The ministerial council has also noted the importance of following the respective domains of various Arab countries and ensuring that the .Arab domain name would not be utilized in a negative way. It urged vigilance and constant communications with responsible entities, such as ICANN, to avoid approving any domain names that negatively affect the Arab nations.
It has also agreed on the importance of coordinating with various Arab Departments to reach a united decision concerning the domain name registration, considering the political, geographical and cultural aspect of every nation, and the importance among Arab countriesto communicate, aiming to unify the visions related to services and applications.
The Arab ministers also agreed to establish a regional transport network and continue commissioning Lebanon to prepare the required studies and coordinate with the Arab departments for this project, particularly with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to formulate the initial framework for the communication network. It noted the importance of encouraging the ministries and related departments in Egypt, KSA and UAE to seek telecom operators’ full collaboration to implement the regional connecting project for Arab internet networks.
The council welcomed suggestions on organising a joint meeting for Arab telecommunications and education ministers in 2017, to discuss and suggest a regional plan to develop smart learning in the Arab region and form the technical secretariat, which will collaborate with the group for this initiative.
The plan aims to recognise the role of youth in developing the ICT sector. The council has agreed on the importance of a technical secretariat to communicate with various Arab Departments and facilitate the submission of suggestions and programs related to smart learning.