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Zain Group announces the appointment of Emre Gurkan as CEO of 'touch' in Lebanon. The mobile operation is managed by Zain on behalf of the Lebanese government, and Mr. Gurkan's appointment is effective immediately. His appointment will see him cooperating closely with the country's Telecom Ministry in advancing the Lebanon's mobile communications sector.

A dual US-Turkish citizen, Mr. Gurkan joins 'touch' as a highly-accomplished telecom professional having gained over 25 years' experience in international ICT, telecom and management consulting sectors working with global telecom operators and media companies across the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Africa. His strengths extend to corporate strategy; digital and business transformation; mergers and acquisitions; outsourcing and optimization as well as marketing, sales and driving customer-centric operating cultures.

Along with his new role, Mr. Gurkan is the Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer of Zain Group, having been appointed to the position in the beginning of 2014. He is the originator of Zain's Digital and Innovation Frontier department, which has successfully elevated Zain to becoming a leader in digital transformation across the region. Highlights of his tenure include the closing of highly-regarded deals with Uber and Booking.com, strategic investments by Zain in numerous regional and global venture capital funds, and in the UAE-based smart city consultancy firm neXgen (NXN), Lebanon's mobile solutions provider FOO, connected car rental company YoYo in Bahrain and a big data monetization platform in Kuwait. Mr. Gurkan was also one of the architects of Zain's recently announced partnership with leading TV and video online service provider 'iflix', which will see the entertainment service rolled out across the region imminently.            

Prior to joining Zain Group, Mr. Gurkan held senior leadership roles as Chief Strategy and Synergy Officer at a regional telecom group operating across three continents. He also held leadership roles at renowned management consulting firms, McKinsey & Co's Atlanta office in the U.S as well as A.T. Kearney in the Dallas, Athens, Istanbul and Dubai offices, setting strategies and advising leading telecom operators, high-tech companies, financial institutions and government organizations. Mr. Gurkan also worked at a leading mobile operator in Turkey and Baan Company in the Netherlands and was a co-founder of IDEA, an IT consulting and applications development company.

Commenting on the appointment, Zain Group Vice-Chairman and Group CEO and 'touch' chairman, Mr. Bader Al Kharafi said: "Emre Gurkan has a distinguished management record and strong background in digital and business transformation over the past 25 years. With the compelling support of Zain Group's resources in all facets of the Lebanon operation, I have every confidence that he will work successfully with the Ministry of Telecom in bringing increased innovation to the communications sector in the country and take full advantage of the digital growth opportunities there."

Incoming 'touch' CEO, Mr. Gurkan said on his appointment: "I am thrilled to be given this prime opportunity to continue my rewarding journey with Zain Group. As the leading mobile operator in Lebanon, 'touch' is deeply entrenched in the telecom, economic and social landscape of the country and I look forward to working with the Ministry of Telecom and the highly talented 'touch' team to maintain the mobile operation's high standards and take it to new heights of innovation and service delivery."

Mr. Gurkan holds an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, an MS in Management Information Systems (MIS) from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a BS in Computer Engineering from Istanbul Technical University. He has also undertaken research on Corporate Finance at MIT, and published three white papers and a book on Relationship Management. Mr. Gurkan is a board member of World Economic Forum's "Internet For All" initiative and a member of Chief Strategy Officers' Group (CSOG) at GSMA.

Zain has been managing 'touch' since 1 June, 2004. The operation has a leading 53 percent customer market share, serving over 2.3 million customers. It is currently rolling out 4G LTE services across the country, offering customers the widest choice of mobile and data services in Lebanon.