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As CEO, Bader Al Zidi has led Vodafone Oman through a riveting journey over the past two years, seeing it secure approximately 10% of the market to date. Under his leadership, the company is at the forefront of the nation’s tech-telco industry, underpinned by a digital-first vision from day one.

As the company moves into its third year serving customers nationwide, Al Zidi discussed the company's growth and ongoing influence on Oman's telecom industry in an exclusive interview with Telecom Review.

Also Read: Vodafone Oman: Future-Ready Networks, AI-Powered Security

Congratulations on reaching your two-year milestone in the Omani market. Could you please share the key achievements and successes that you’re most proud of over the past two years?

Thank you. We have indeed enjoyed an exceptional two years in the market, harnessing the power of technology to deliver seamless, uninterrupted and fast online mobile experiences to our customers.

From day one, we set out to do things differently because we knew there was a better way and we wanted to lead the telco industry into the digital revolution. We were the first, with a number of innovations, and my proudest achievement is that we have disrupted the sector, catalyzing and accelerating change towards a fully digital future. 

Beyond challenging the industry to move forward, we have needed to continue to be at the forefront of technological developments, which is why we fully embraced AI in all aspects of our operations, from network monitoring and efficiency, to our customer journey, cyber security and across our whole IT environments. This makes us faster, more agile and resilient, and enables us to provide a service that is consistently outstanding.

Today, building on our first year, Vodafone Oman owns approximately 10% of the market. This has been underpinned by our focus as a digital operator to fast-track our 5G Next Level network reach. We have doubled our sites and increased our 5G population coverage by 120%. A 42% growth in our customer base has resulted in a 174% revenue increase, while our pre-paid market share rose to about 11% in 2023.

Also Read: Year Two: Vodafone Oman Celebrates Tremendous Growth

However, this is still only the beginning, we have ambitious plans to continue the pace of our growth throughout 2024 and beyond.

A second congratulations is also in order for Vodafone’s launch of its Enterprise proposition. Could you elaborate on your strategy for entering such a competitive segment?

Oman's business landscape is evolving rapidly, and in this dynamic environment, agility and innovation are not just buzzwords; they're essential for survival. We understand these challenges intimately, which is why BLACK for Business isn't just a solution; it's a lifeline for companies seeking to thrive.

With Oman's economy diversifying and embracing digital transformation, the need for reliable, flexible, and scalable communication solutions has never been greater. Whether it's seamless connectivity to reach customers across the nation or robust support to navigate regulatory complexities, companies need to be empowered at every turn, and Vodafone gets this.

The beauty of BLACK for Business is that companies can shape each individual plan to fit their business like a glove, enjoying the freedom to add or remove features as they see fit. The Business Self-Service Portal puts control firmly in the hands of employees for data and voice add-ons, while granting employers full autonomy over billing and administration—a true win-win scenario for businesses of all sizes.

What do you believe are the main factors behind Vodafone Oman's increasing popularity among customers throughout the Sultanate?

The market in Oman had been a duopoly for around two decades, which led the government to create a vision for a disruptive new player that could push things into the future.

The introduction of 5G technology has been a vital driver of our progress, while in our increasingly internationally mobile society, we have addressed customer demands for better and more competitive data roaming packages to avoid bill shocks and make connectivity abroad a seamless experience.

Our approach is to leverage technology in a way that allows us to grow the business, while always remaining mindful of what makes a difference in people’s daily lives.

The My Vodafone App is central to our operations in the Sultanate, with four million App downloads and counting. In terms of wider reach, we have increased our sales channels to more than 4,000 and international roaming countries by 66%. We have face recognition integrated into our app in partnership with the Royal Oman Police, whereby verifications are completed instantly.

We are considered pioneers in integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in our operations, having succeeded in automating many of our network monitoring and cybersecurity processes, making our services faster, safer and more efficient.

Crucially, our commitment to building a fully-green digital operation and green field has allowed us to cement our position as a genuine pioneer and a driver of digitalization. We are fostering a service that is kinder to the environment and is utilizing cleaner energy sources and smarter power management.

We have also been extremely mindful of the fact that 65% of Oman’s population is 35 years old or younger, inspiring us to tailor our content and communication to address this key segment. As such, we have already signed an agreement with several international content providers and are in the process of integrating these services into our offering to be able to provide gaming and video streaming. Our young people are our future and Vodafone Oman is committed to being an indispensable part of that future.

Could you walk us through the consumer products and experiences that have contributed to Vodafone Oman's influence on the telecom market in the Sultanate?

The company was among the first in the world to offer post-paid packages that allow for full digital onboarding thanks to eSIM activation in less than two minutes via the My Vodafone App. In addition to our BLACK prepaid plans, our RED prepaid packages offer customers a worry-free, subscription-based business model with the agility and freedom to either change or auto-renew plans on a monthly basis; no strings attached.

Also Read: Vodafone Oman: Pioneering Oman’s Digital Transformation

Our 5G Next Level network has redefined user experience by offering unparalleled speeds, lower latency and efficient data usage. Unlike legacy operators, Vodafone Oman's nationwide network operates without speed caps, enabling seamless connectivity for both business and leisure.

Enjoying Vodafone Oman's services knows no bounds, even when you're traveling. Customers can enjoy our plans in approximately 30 countries, using their services as if they were in Oman. These countries represent the highest travel destinations for Omanis, including the GCC, with packages that are competitive, transparent and simple.

We are dedicated to integrating various methods to simplify our customers’ lives, such as our car park paying service via our app, which does not even require the input of a plate number. Additionally, if you are a student subscribed to Vodafone, you get your high school results on your app.

How has Vodafone Oman leveraged local capabilities to enhance its offerings?

We have invested in local partner capabilities, identifying new opportunities of growth together. The company remains committed to maximizing our economic spend in Oman—our in-country value amounted to OMR 66 million in 2023, including large-scale partnerships and short-term projects and contracts awarded to local businesses and SMEs.

Capitalizing on the government’s infrastructure investments, we have followed a different approach to our own infrastructure assets, leasing tower capacity from local entities, instead of building our own telecom towers. By maximizing site sharing and leveraging partnerships with state-owned companies, we have not only reduced our environmental impact but have also continued to contribute to the development of a sustainable economic ecosystem in Oman.

Our links with the community have also been extended beyond the business of telecom as we became the first telecom company in Oman to sign a long-term partnership with Al Seeb Club, becoming the ‘Official Sponsor’ of its first football team.

How are you conceptualizing Vodafone Oman’s path going forward into your third year of operations in the Sultanate?

As we continue to realize our journey as a leading tech-telco, our vision remains: to digitalize the Omani way of life, empowering individuals and communities to reach their full potential, while safeguarding the heritage, culture and the very essence of the Omani character, guided by the foresight of Oman’s 2040 vision for economic prosperity.

Technology has such a vital role to play in daily life in the Sultanate and integrating it has already helped drive progress and innovation in the country. We strive to continue enhancing communication and connectivity among people and improving access to indispensable areas such as education and government services.

We also aim to realize the full portfolio of our services in the mobile market, the mobile portal, as well as introduce value-added services such as ‘content’ to cater to new customer demographics.

We have mapped out an ambitious roadmap for a digital future, as we continue to stand out as a beacon of innovation. Vodafone Oman aims to cater to new customer demographics, lifestyles and needs, while broadening our core offerings and expanding our 5G Next Level network reach to cover more than 90% of the population, paving the way for a more connected, efficient and prosperous future for the nation.

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