Etisalat has lowered its roaming charges for travellers in the Gulf, just prior to a deadline for regional telecommunications operators to cut mobile fees.
The operator said yesterday it has reduced calling charges for its UAE customers travelling within the region by up to 26 per cent.
Regional operators were asked in January to reduce their roaming charges by GCC officials in the latest attempt to lower prices.
Etisalat customers travelling to the five other GCC countries will now be charged Dh2.40 (65 US cents) per minute to make a call back to the UAE, compared with as much as Dh3.25 previously.
Calls made within the country being visited - Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain or Kuwait - will now be priced at Dh1 per minute.
Matthew Willsher, the chief marketing officer at Etisalat, said the latest reduction in fees meant GCC roaming charges had been cut by almost half since 2010.
"Etisalat has brought down prices for its customers by 48 per cent since 2010," said Mr Willsher.
"The telecoms industry is working together to improve value for customers in the region."
Etisalat's tariffs are now identical to those charged by its competitor du, according to information published on the rival company's website.
Du declined to comment on whether it would be lowering its roaming charges as a reaction to Etisalat's move or the GCC ruling. However, it is believed it will be making an announcement on the matter today.
Competition between the two operators is increasing. Du is approaching parity with Etisalat on number of mobile subscribers. The battle is set to intensify following the delayed launch of mobile-number portability, which will allow subscribers to switch between operators but retain their numbers.
The move by Etisalat comes just prior to today's deadline for regional operators to reduce their intra-GCC roaming fees.
Officials of the GCC said last month roaming fees within the region would be drastically reduced.
Abdullah Al Shubaily, the GCC's assistant secretary general for economic affairs, said regional mobile operators agreed to reduce their charges at a meeting in Riyadh, according to press reports.
Matthew Reed, a senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said the move by Etisalat appears to be in line with rulings by Gulf officials.
"It's part of a phased reduction of roaming rates within the GCC that the region's regulators agreed a year or so ago," he said.
This followed an earlier attempt to reduce prices, which was not successful, said Mr Reed.
"About three years ago, there was a proposal to introduce roaming price regulation across the Arab world, but there was not the political will to enforce this," he said.
"However, the GCC regulators decided to continue with a form of the regulation."