The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Cairo and Pyongyang

Here’s another chapter in the bizarre relationship between North Korea and Egypt. I understand it all begun when North Korea effectively ran Egypt’s air force (at least in Upper Egypt) around 1970, later sold scud missiles and related services, in 1989 built a war panorama, but also furnished Cairo with some of its best foreign cuisine restaurants.

Now, there’s business, too. Maybe inspired by Orascom Construction Industries investments in the North-Korean cement industry, Orascom Telecom undertakes to build up North Korea’s mobile phone network.

From afp:

It was unclear how widely the Orascom Telecom service would be available to the public. Spokespersons were not immediately available for comment.

North Korea began a mobile phone service in November 2002. But 18 months later, it banned ordinary citizens from using the service and began recalling unauthorised handsets.

There is still thought to be a mobile network in Pyongyang which is open for government officials. Most foreigners are not allowed to use mobile phones inside the country.