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ITU Regional Development Forum for the Arab States (RDF-ARB) 2023


The Regional Development Forum for the Arab States (RDF-ARB), organized by the International Telecommunication Union's Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) and hosted by the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications of the Kingdom of Bahrain, took place in Manama, Bahrain, from 6 to 7 November 2023. The event was held in hybrid format with interpretation in both Arabic and English.

The RDF was followed by the Digital Regulation Workshop for the Arab States on 8 November 2023​, and it was only in-person training.

Watch some highlights from RDF-ARB 2023

RDF-ARB reported on the progress that has been made towards the implementation of the outcomes of the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2022 (WTDC-22) held in Kigali, Rwanda, in June 2022. Emphasis was given to the five Regional Initiatives for Arab Region approved at WTDC-22, as well as other activities under the five thematic priority areas adopted at WTDC-22.

The Annual Regional Development Forum for the Arab States provided an opportunity for the exchange of views between ITU and its stakeholders including ITU Member States, Sector Members as well as other stakeholders in the Arab Region. It served as a platform for discussing ways to achieve meaningful connectivity and sustainable digital transformation in the region.

A special segment of this year's RDF was dedicated to Partner2Connect (P2C) matchmaking, connecting Member States' needs with partner pledges under the P2C Digital Coalition, with the aim of jointly operationalizing pledges and implementing impactful projects across the Arab Region.

RFD-ARB also featured a dedicated session for the Network of Women (NoW) in the Arab Region to showcase the progress and the strategy of the NoW Arab Regional group, as well as its future plans.​

Digital Regulation Workshop

Following the RDF-ARB, the “Digital Regulation Workshop" was organized on 8 November at the same venue, with the kind support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The workshop was only available as in person training.

Participation and registration

The Regional Development Forum was open to all stakeholders involved in digital development and digital transformation, with an interest in forging multi-stakeholder partnerships. Key participants included telecommunication/ICT policymakers, regulators, industry representatives, academia, United Nations Agencies, regional and international developmental agencies, and banks.


As part of the RDF-ARB, the ITU Regional Office for the Arab States launched a Regional Consultation. This provided an opportunity for ITU Member States to highlight their priority needs over and above the regional priorities as expressed in the Regional Initiatives. Additionally, it allowed other stakeholders, based on the Partner2Connect Coalition pledges to express their commitments to contribute and support the implementation of projects and activities.

Stakeholders who attended the RDF Partner2Connect matchmaking roundtables were invited to submit their written contributions to be used as basis for discussions.  All contributions received were posted on the RDF website.


To encourage participation of developing countries and subject to availability of funds, a limited number of full fellowships were granted to eligible Member States within the Arab Region only. Priority was be given to Least Developed Countries. Full fellowships covered the air ticket (one return economy class ticket by the most direct/economical route from the country of origin to the meeting venue), and appropriate daily subsistence allowance intended to cover accommodation, meals, and incidental expenses. Member States were responsible for covering the remaining  participation costs.

In line with Plenipotentiary Resolution 213 (Dubai, 2018), it was encouraged that fellowship nominations consider gender balance and inclusion of persons with disabilities and with specific needs. The criteria for granting a fellowship included factors such as the availability of ITU budget, active participation, equitable distribution among countries, application from persons with disabilities and specific needs, and achieving gender balance.