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In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO, du, revealed the main drivers behind the company’s recovery from a pre-pandemic state, the values the company is creating, its achievements, as well as the measures taken to strengthen digital safety and security, and more interesting insights.

The financial results of Q4 announced recently show that mobile services revenues recovered by 5,6%. What were the drivers of this recovery?

We built a tremendous commercial momentum by maintaining our focus on our customers as we continue to anticipate their requirements by providing innovative products and services. To enable this, we continued throughout the year our ambitious investment program to accelerate the transformation and deployment of our infrastructure into a next-generation network to uncover world-class efficiency, which exceeded our expectations. We also tailored our operational model and governance to evolve seamlessly with our market, our industry and customer needs. As a result, our strategy successfully increased our financial flexibility to pursue our growth journey and I look forward to seeing our upcoming financial and commercial perspectives further unveil in 2022.

What will come next in terms of achievements in du’s 5G roadmap?

In terms of 5G, we expect to build on our achievements in 2022 by proritising our customers need and continuing the digital transformation. We aim to continue expanding, not only our mobile and fixed networks, but also through fiberisation, aggregated service enablement and next generation service operation including security. As such, we expect to focus on indoor 5G coverage with a value-driven rollout and add physical sites to enable a wide growth. We are also looking into increasing our fixed network footprint and vertical building connectivity whilst preparing more network capacity for home wireless users. As we continue on our fiberisation journey to operate our mobile sites, we plan to add even more fiber footprint.

These steps will ground du’s 5G network as a reliable and resource more areas which allows us imagine further innovative ventures in digitisation. As we are building our transformative capabilities, we will utilize 5G to power additional services and features such as cloud excellence, fixed mobile convergence and transformative automation, whilst bringing in more energy saving initiatives throughout to accelerate the UAE’s national agenda on sustainability. We also plan on capitalising on our new operating model to improve customer experience and operate a self-healing network as a result of sustainable opex savings and decarbonization. Finally, we aim to empower our customers with tokenization and anonymization, to better cyber defense capabilities and digital security overall.

Standards are a pillar in the telecommunications industry? How does du comply with international standards and apply them locally?

In accordance with GRI standards, we continuously aim to capture our performance against our sustainability strategy, material sustainability topics, and the Sustainable Development Goals. Part of our sustainability objective is to embodies our commitment in creating value for our business stakeholders, as well as the community and environment we are involved with. Operating across three pillars, ‘happier people’, ‘ICT for all’ and ‘operate responsibly’, our vision proactively engages with timely goals ahead of the digital transformation. We also seek to positively engage with our community across all segments to make this digital journey inclusive and accessible. Therefore, we have partnered with UNICEF in a three yearlong partnership to promote online childhood safety across outreach and awareness with national partners to ensure support is made readily available for children and parents, in the UAE and beyond. Recent initiatives also included school-focused digital wellbeing sessions with Injaz UAE and EdComs Middle East.

du has signed a MoU with the security industry regulatory agency (SIRA). What benefits does it bring to both enterprises and consumers?

Our partnership with the security industry regulatory agency (SIRA) was set to actively strengthen digital safety and security services. Together we joined forces to support institutional integration and harness administrative, technical and practical expertise to develop a conscientious framework to improve national and community practices as well as provide personalized services. Through this strategic partnership, we will provide special offers and plans to SIRA clients such as prepaid and flexible plans catering to customer requirements in the UAE.

How do you describe your participation at MWC this year?

The Mobile World Congress is a massive trade show with a historical focus on mobile devices. This year represents the biggest mobile tradeshow of 2022. du’s presence is a huge excitement as we look forward to taking part in discussions in what is hopefully a long-term post COVID recovery. We have successfully bounced back from considerable decline thanks to our innovative mindset, timely services and future foresight investments which altogether have positively transformed our company from a traditional telco to an intelligence service and product partner. I am delighted to partake in this year’s discussions and look forward to taking part in the biggest congregation of mobile device manufacturers and distributors.

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