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Every year at GITEX, Etisalat showcases some of the most innovative technologies and solutions of our time. The advanced use cases which were exhibited this year spanned across a variety of industries, some of which included retail, healthcare and mobility among many others.

Telecom Review managed to secure an exclusive interview with Hatem Dowidar, Acting CEO of Etisalat Group and CEO OF Etisalat International, to talk about the exhibition, how the telco dealt with the pandemic and their latest achievements in the 5G network space.

Could you tell us a little bit about Etisalat’s presence at GITEX this year?

This year, as always, Etisalat brings a lot of future innovations. It’s part of our motto of enabling the digital future. We are showcasing the future of health, transport, smart homes, smart offices and putting all these together in a connected world. If you go around, you will have a chance to see all things from self-driving cards to self-flying planes to wheelchairs that can be commanded by voice, to all things that can help you work and learn from home.

I also think that our retail section this year is very interesting. In a COVID world, where people want to decrease physical interaction. We have use cases that allow you, as the customer, to do the shopping and checkout all on your own in a shop, where you can pack things in a more practical way without having to interact with others physically. This is just one example of a use case which we have been able to support in the world’s shift to the new normal.

What was Etisalat’s experience like throughout the pandemic?

Our customers were our utmost priority so we wanted to make sure that we could continue to provide our customer service when the demand was higher than ever because people were working and learning from home; we could not afford to let them down.

During that period, we made sure that we provided the best service we had. We provided the extra capacity on the network to take on all the extra usage, without having an effect on them.

We also made it our priority to ensure that our employees were safe. We did this by ensuring that when they would have to fix things at our stations or at customer premises, that they were all well-protected for their own good and the good of our customers simultaneously. This was very tricky to achieve in a matter of days when the pandemic started. In order to provide these services remotely, we enabled a lot of our staff to work remotely. This was the case for customer services agents who answered calls remotely as well as the sales and marketing teams. We had to find a different way for all our teams to do things remotely whilst maintaining top-notch services to our customers.

What are some of the key takeaways from 2020 that Etisalat will bring into 2021?

2020 showed us that things can indeed be done differently. We can work remotely without having the need to be present at the office. With the use of more technology tools, this was made possible.

Previously, we used to travel a lot because as you may know, we serve customers in 16 different countries. This required the management level of our team to travel quite often. However, we now do more remote meetings and travel less. We have come to realize that we can do a lot more things remotely and that this allows for more flexibility for people in the way they work.

We managed to do all this while improving productivity and making sure that our services to our customers were even better.

Etisalat was recently awarded for having the fastest mobile network in the world by Ookla. Could you provide us with a comment on that?

At Etisalat, we have always had the desire to bring the latest technologies into the markets that we operate in. In fact, we were the first operator in the Middle East with 3G to come with 4G. We always make sure that we bring the latest technologies and that we provide the fastest network and measures.

This is based on hundreds of thousands of tests that customers do around the world; that is how the network speed is calculated. It is a very scientific and elaborate way of measuring the quality of the network.

We knew that we were ranking high, month after month, so we really went the extra mile to make sure that we keep improving our network in a way that allows us to become to best in the world and offer the best services to our customers- but it doesn’t stop here. In fact, we just announced a new milestone this week for having the fastest ever 5G data session in the world. We reached 9.1 Gbps which set a new world record as the fastest in the world.


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