UAE’s Telecom Regulator Warns Users Against Selling Telephone Numbers

The warning comes as Etisalat and Khalifa Foundation plan to auction VIP packages that would provide certain privileges to customers.



The UAE’s telecom users can neither “own” a telephone number nor “sell” them, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has said in a statement.

“Telephone numbers are national resources owned by the government and managed by the TRA in accordance with the National Numbering Plan,” the statement said.

The warning comes as telecom operator Etisalat and Khalifa Foundation plan to auction certain VIP packages, which allow customers to enjoy certain privileges under existing laws and regulations.

“We remind all potential bidders that they will be bidding on certain VIP packages and if successful, they will have the right to use the associated special number in accordance with the terms and conditions of the VIP package,” said Majed Al Mesmar, deputy director general of the TRA.

“The winning bidder will not have ownership of the number and will not have the right to sell that number at a later date.”

The telecom regulator also clarified that it could withdraw any number that has been issued by a licensee and even change the format of telephone numbers.

Currently, mobile numbers in the UAE consist of a three-digit prefix and a seven-digit number. The TRA said that it cannot guarantee that the prefix or the seven-digit number would remain unchanged in the future.

The TRA recently introduced mobile number portability (MNP) service in the country, allowing users to switch operators while retaining their phone numbers.

The service, which was launched in the country after a delay of more than five years, is expected to promote competition between the operators.

Around 61,000 mobile subscribers in the UAE have requested to switch their operators since the launch of MNP service in December 2013, according to the TRA.

More than 23,000 mobile numbers were ported out of the total 61,000 requests while many requests were resubmitted to obtain required documents to switch over, the authority said.