Mobile network operators Etisalat and MTN Group have announced a data partnership in the United Arab Emirates, despite their competitive rivalry in African markets such as Nigeria.

In a statement, Etisalat, which has operations across the Middle East and Africa, noted that MTN would assist in extending its regional reach via Etisalat SmartHub, a communications platform aimed at expediting data traffic traversing the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

The facility is based in the UAE and provides advanced content, inter-network packet exchange (IPX), internet exchange (IX) and high-speed data services.

The partnership is further intended to enable MTN Group to connect via an additional route to Europe in a bid to benefit its customer base in the Middle East, where MTN is present in countries that include Syria and Iran, and holds a total connection base of 203.8 million.

Ali Amiri, Etisalat executive VP, said: “We are delighted to have a group such as MTN join the SmartHub community of operators and content providers, which has been designed to provide our partners with a one stop shop for connectivity to the region.”

“This partnership with MTN Group showcases the importance of the SmartHub and appropriately shines the limelight on the UAE as the regional hub for telecom services.”

Jyoti Desai, MTN chief technology and information officer, added: “Etisalat’s Smarthub is an important hub in our bid to expand MTN’s world class global multi-services network, and the rising strategic significance of the UAE as the communication network hub for the Middle East and Africa region underpins the importance of this partnership in our expansion plan.”