Kuwait's Zain is reported to be interested in investing in the Syrian mobile market, either through an acquisition of an operator license, or a stake in an existing operator. The country currently has two networks, locally owned Syriatel and South African owned, MTN Syria.
During 2008, the U.S. Department of the Treasury blacklisted Syriatel due to its links with Rami Makhluf, which the US government has blacklisted due to his connections with the government. Any investment by Zain in the company would have to overcome that political hurdle.
Kuwait's Al Anbaa newspaper reported that officials from Zain have met with the Syrian telecoms ministry to work out a suitable manner for the company to enter the market. However, Zain denied being interested in the market when rumours first emerged early last year.
The Syrian government has also been considering offering a 3rd mobile license for well over a year.
Figures from the Mobile World analysts note that the country ended the first half of this year with an estimated 8.6 million mobile phone users - representing a population penetration level of around 42%.