Chinese Telecoms Firm ZTE Eyeing Middle East Markets

A Chinese telecom giant the US government has recommended be kept out of the States over cyber-security fears claims it is facing no such barriers in the Middle East.

Senior executives at ZTE Corp told 7DAYS that authorities in the region are keen to tap its expertise in security matters.

ZTE Corp is the world’s fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer and is participating in GITEX Technology Week, in Dubai, for the first time.

The firm’s arrival at the UAE event comes a little over a week after it was criticised in a report written by US lawmakers on the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee – who said American firms should have nothing to do with ZTE and fellow Chinese communications company Huawei until they can show they are not a risk to US national security.

The report said government computer systems should not include components from them because they might pose an espionage risk. China’s government branded the report false and an effort to block Chinese companies from the US market. But ZTE is finding things much easier when it comes to doing business in the Middle East, according to Nasser Ayad, senior vice president for the firm in the region. He said governments are coming to ZTE for surveillance technology in the aftermath of public unrest across the Middle East.

Ayad added that the company has technology that makes it possible to identify people who seek to use the cover of crowds to commit crimes during protests. The equipment can also identify a single offender in a crowd of a thousand people.

“There are some governments that have already contacted us here [at GITEX] and in China and we gave them presentation … and we are also in negotiations,” Ayad said.

Asked for his thoughts on the US government’s tough talk on his firm’s activities, Ayad replied: “To be honest … it is out of my region, if you look at my business card I focus on the Middle East, so I don’t have exact information.”

The firm also sees opportunities across the region for partnerships based on its good track record of delivering LTE – or so-called 4G – networks.

ZTE’s Middle East vice president Wassim Mansour said 4G will bring great benefits to the region’s telecoms users – but, depending on the operator, they may have to pay more for the privilege.


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