The United Nations telecommunications agency will hold a conference of its highest policy-making body in an Arab state for the first time when its Member States meet next year in Qatar.
The fourth World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-06) will take place in Qatar from 7 to 15 March 2006, four months after the second phase of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) meets in Tunisia on ways to reduce the digital divide between rich and poor countries, the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said.
"The WTDC provides an important opportunity for ITU to further its commitment to bringing the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICT) to all of the world," ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi said.
"WTDC will be the first global ICT event held after the World Summit on the Information Society and will no doubt give ICT leaders an opportunity to consider practical ways to achieve the WSIS goal of connecting the world by 2015."
Qatar is a leading user of ICT in the region, with an annual growth of 15 per cent in fixed and mobile teledensity over the last five years. Internet use has racked up an annual growth rate close to 47 per cent over the same period.
The chairman of WTDC-06 will be Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, who is also the chairman of the largest public telecommunication provider in Qatar, Qtel.