Vodafone sets up partnership with Zain in the Middle East

Kasmira Jefford
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VODAFONE said yesterday it has struck up a partnership with Kuwaiti-based telecoms operator Zain that will expand its footprint in the Middle East.

Under the agreement, Vodafone will work with Zain companies in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq, to improve network coverage and cuts costs.

The deal will also allow Vodafone to offer its customers lower roaming fees when travelling in the region.

In return Zain, which has over 41.4m customers across eight countries, will be given access to Vodafone’s brand, devices and services in its home markets and become its preferred partner of Vodafone in those regions.

The British telecoms giant, which has recently completed a scaling back of its portfolio after years of rapid expansion, is seeking new agreements with local operators to spread its coverage while avoiding expensive buyouts or heavy investments.

By teaming up with Zain, Vodafone aims to offer more competitive roaming deals than rivals can offer to encourage customers to use their phones while abroad.

Its presence in the Middle East has been limited to Qatar, Egypt and Libya and the deal will now increase the number of countries in which it has partner market agreements to more than 50.

“By combining the geographical reach of our companies’ respective networks, we can strengthen and deepen the benefits to our customers operating in these large and dynamic markets,” said Ravinder Takkar, chief executive of Vodafone Partner Markets.