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Since the launch of e& as a new brand identity, it has reinvented itself by constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation and continuing its efforts to pivot from being “just a telco” to building on the solid foundations of its success to be a digital telco and much more.

The theme for this year’s event at Mobile World Congress is “Unleashing Tomorrow’s Technology Today,” and this resonates well with e&’s vision of creating limitless possibilities for the future. This is a convergence of 5G, AI, big data, IoT and now the metaverse, bringing people, devices and systems even closer together.

e& is looking forward to being part of this global conversation to share our experiences with peers and technology leaders as well as exchange experiences in innovation that is set to transform every industry that uses advanced technologies, from manufacturing, retail and healthcare, to automotive, utilities and entertainment. With immersive technologies and 5G and taking center stage, along with technologies that make a sustainable impact, it is changing the way we live, work and consume information.

e& is at the heart of this evolution by taking great strides in the exploration of extended reality and metaverse, enabling innovations in the physical, digital and virtual worlds. This will also be a great platform to explore how we can transform the customer experience and unlock the immense possibilities by bringing people closer together.

e& - Drawn to the Future and Limitless Possibilities

The emphasis was always on capitalizing opportunities that the fast-evolving business landscape continues to present in the age of technological disruption.

Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO, e&, further explained the successes that the Group has had in maximizing value from the core, expanding and solidifying its regional footprint leadership, as well as the strong financial performance. He stressed the importance of embracing a progressive outlook and harnessing a growth mindset to see beyond the world of telecoms so as to create a bright, digital future.

“Technological disruption brought with it winds of change that we’ve never seen before. Instead of us standing at the crossroads, wondering what to do next, we started to ask, ‘How can we capture and accelerate growth and still stay strong and successful?” The answer is straightforward. Our quest to go beyond the realms of telecom exhorted us to ideate, design and deploy solutions that would transform the lives of our customers and advance the digitalisation journey of enterprises.

“Part of this journey involved us taking massive steps to explore adjacencies, looking at how we can create focused digital units, building strong partnerships and exploring collaborative opportunities that would attract out-of-industry partners and investors. We are pleased with the progress made thus far, indicating that the Group is ready for growth, equipped with clear strategic imperatives that will accelerate digital transformation.

“The progressive business model e& has today sustains its ambitions, promotes new ventures and partnerships, and maximises value across our operations. The transformation of e& from a telecom company founded more than four decades ago in the UAE, into a global influence in digitalisation highlights its role in upholding the country’s sustainable economic development and diversification plans. Today e& has steered its global digitalisation leadership through pioneering advanced technologies, advancing ICT infrastructures and fuelling geographic expansions while unlocking value,” he explained.

One of the main aspects of the new ambitious strategy is to enhance customer experiences across all segments by ideating, designing, and delivering a range of innovative and breakthrough technologies, driven by its track record of success. This strategy is aimed at accelerating growth through the creation of a resilient business model that is representing the Group’s main business pillars.

E& has always done things differently since its foundation 46 years ago. The focus has always remained on how it can enrich the lives of customers in the markets where it operates. Through its specialist business pillars, it’s able to make a difference in progressing from multimedia to health tech, sustainability and more.

E& has already been making significant advancements in delivering and deploying future technologies such as the metaverse, Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), the Internet of Things (IoT), data centers and cloud computing. E& hopes to forge business partnerships in the areas of research and development, technology applications and procurement.

This year alone, there have been massive strides in entering strategic partnerships and several acquisitions for future business growth, driven by our relentless commitment to providing innovative solutions for the benefit of our customers and offering long-term sustainable investment opportunities for our investors.

Carry On the Telecom Legacy

“Etisalat” in Arabic means' connectivity', which was fitting in its role as the leading telecoms operator. Today it is no longer just a telecommunications company; it provides far more than just traditional connectivity, hence its evolution to e& “etisalat and… so much more.”

To support its growth ambitions and aspirations for enhanced customer experiences, the e& brand structure is represented by its main business pillars: etisalat by e&, e& life, e& enterprise, e& international and e& capital. The core telecoms business continues to be led by Etisalat UAE in the home market and existing subsidiaries for international operations as it upholds e&’s rich telecoms heritage.

As Etisalat UAE capitalizes on becoming a digital telco, it is ramping up its innovative digital solutions, deploying next-generation technologies and maintaining cutting-edge telecoms offerings, which will enable it to serve customers better and provide an enhanced experience. It has accelerated technology adoption that offers clear growth opportunities at its core.

The acquisition of El Grocer is an example that highlights how e& is aiming to bring customers closer to adopting a digital-first lifestyle through enhanced smart connectivity. Having observed the demands for a “one-stop” platform to have all their lifestyle needs met, especially in the new normal, it seized the opportunity to start a food delivery service through the highly popular Smiles platform. The recent acquisition of “ServiceMarket” was another addition to the online marketplace. This acquisition is in line with the Group’s strategy to empower consumers, strengthen Smiles’ online marketplace presence and drive diversification of our business. ServiceMarket is a leading online marketplace for household services.

e&’s Diverse Ecosystem

The Group’s mission is to deliver outstanding customer experiences and drive the digital future to empower societies by bringing digital to life across every touchpoint locally, regionally, and internationally. The aim is to bring transformational change that is both exciting and relevant to its customers’, investors’ and enterprises' hearts, minds and lives. The carving out of the business verticals is to fulfill its growth aspirations, which are led by the various pillars of the business.

The telecoms business currently continues to be led by etisalat by e& in e&’s home market, upholding the Group’s rich telecoms heritage, bolstering the strong telecoms network and maximizing value for the Group’s various customer segments.

In the international markets (the Group operates in 16 countries), the telecoms business is led by existing subsidiaries for e& international, with a focus on growing an international portfolio of world-class modern digital telcos by providing the best customer experience, building world-class digital capabilities and embracing expansion opportunities.

Ramping up the digital services for individual customers to elevate their digital-first lifestyle, e& life (previously known as Consumer Digital) brings next-generation technologies through smart connectivity platforms in entertainment, retail and financial technology. e& life houses both evision and e& money, the fintech company and the financial super app marketplace that advances digital financial solutions for all customer segments.

evision has over 5,000 hours of Arabic content available on the platform. To take advantage of e&’s footprint across the MENA region, it continues to make substantial investments to acquire top Arabic titles with original/exclusive rights. With the demand for premium Arabic content, evision adds more exclusive Arabic content to our offerings, both with original productions and the licensing of exclusive assets. The recent partnership between WatchIT, StarzPlay and e& highlights our strong commitment to the Arab consumer. WatchIT is a leading VOD platform targeting the Arab segment across the MENA market.

As Hollywood content continues to drive new acquisitions and engagement on the platform, e& life will expand its linear and VOD portfolio, and continue the expansion of the Hollywood library with more exclusive assets.  As leaders in Indian entertainment in the region, our popular Indian channel, emasala, is the only multi-lingual South Asian movie channel that showcases the best cinematic entertainment, which includes blockbuster movies in Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil. Launched in October 2022, our new first-ever trilingual channel (Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu) called Emasala Simply South (owned and operated by evision) is a perfect testimony to its commitment to bringing original content for our audiences who have a huge appetite for Indian movie content — as early as four weeks from the theatrical release.

In sports, CricLife is proving to be the home of cricket after it secured exclusive broadcast and media rights for the ICC T20 Men’s World Cup and Asia Cup in the MENA region. Given the success of CricLife, it is exploring various opportunities in the sports segments such as golf, rugby and Italian football. Its recently launched proprietary channel, GolfLife, a dedicated 24/7 channel for all golf fans in the region, captures all the best live and exclusive action of golf’s most competitive tours and team competitions in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the exclusive MENA rights to the PGA TOUR, DP World Tour, Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.

As e& life’s fintech vertical, e& money has the ambition to become the #1 financial super app in the UAE. It aims to provide all UAE citizens and residents with safe, flexible and contactless financial products with a seamless user experience.

It's pushing the boundaries on product innovation and customer experience by offering a comprehensive set of fintech products in tightly linked user journeys; including card payments, remittances, merchant payments, bill payments, lending, investments and insurance services. It takes pride in working closely with ecosystem players, partners and shareholders to seize the right opportunities as and when they present themselves. Given that the market for digital-first solutions continues to flourish, it is ever ready to gear up to meet consumer demands while ensuring that it provides best-in-class products and services.

In order to enable the digital transformation of governments, large-scale enterprises and corporates, e& enterprise (previously known as Enterprise Digital) focuses on maximizing value through its end-to-end solutions in cybersecurity, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as deploying mega projects.

e& enterprise also completed its acquisition of Smartworld, one of the UAE’s leading technology solutions providers and systems integrators. The acquisition marks a major milestone for e& enterprise as it progresses into the enterprise digital space and enables organizations to maximize their digital potential.

Smartworld now operates under e& enterprise and has formally rebranded to e& enterprise iot and ai. Smartworld’s solutions portfolio will be embedded in the established Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) business lines of e& enterprise. The acquisition is envisioned to create enormous business value for e& enterprise customers and business partners, and further solidify its technological leadership in the digital transformation conversation.

e& capital allows the Group to concentrate its efforts on driving new mergers and acquisitions while maximizing shareholder value and strengthening its global presence. It plans to further progress its aspirations through its US$250 million e& capital Venture Capital (VC). e& capital will further drive the tech ecosystem through larger investments at the growth stage beyond its VC fund.

Earlier this year, the transformation of e& provided the right foundations for the Group to consider VC and growth investments for early-stage entrepreneurs and rising startups. The e& capital VC mandate is to attract, engage and support startups, adding value to their journey by capturing synergies, providing access to investor and expert networks, and adopting a collaborative approach. Building on the Group’s strong fundamentals, e& capital has the capabilities to discover and invest in startups with a significant market potential, a passionate founding team, a disruptive business model and superior potential from a technology and business performance perspective.

e& capital investments will play a critical role in enhancing the offering for e& customers, with the e& investment arm already closing sizeable deals, thus standing as a testimonial of its determination and abilities. Already, it has made a strategic investment in VUZ, a leading immersive social app that allows users to stream and experience a new level of immersive realism in Extended Reality (XR) and metaverse digital experiences. Through its contribution to the US$20 million in the Series B funding round for VUZ, e& capital stays committed to supporting startups that show promise of driving value as well as scaling in the near future.

e& capital had also funded Lablabee, a tech startup that will grow the world’s first hands-on lab platform for the telco cloud, offering training that is more interactive and accessible. Lablabee has demonstrated the potential to transform its novel ideas into a viable business solution that will add value to customers and impact the technology sector.

Becoming an Enabler for Digital Lifestyles

e& has significantly contributed to the development of the telecom sector in the country with its continuous investments to develop one of the most advanced networks in the region and globally. This has also led the country to lead on various global indicators and indexes, and this includes steering the country’s global digitalization leadership by pioneering advanced technologies and ICT infrastructures that fuel geographic expansions while unlocking value.

Given that fiber connectivity opens doors to bringing futuristic technologies to everyone, e& has been part of the country-wide program to build one of the most advanced networks globally by pursuing strategic partnerships that drive infrastructure investments.

The country today leads the world with the fastest mobile network, a major contributing factor to the well-being, economic wealth and social prosperity of the nation. This achievement has led to elevating the digital lifestyle of consumers while at the same time giving a boost to the business sector. Today, device penetration in the UAE is one of the highest globally, with at least 96.4% of people watching content online. Another interesting insight is that 19% of these users own digital currency.

Digitalization and next-generation technologies are at the core of e& business moving forward; it will meld e&’s telecoms and technology capabilities for the benefit of all its stakeholders. e& will move at full throttle to take advantage of value-adding partnerships and fruitful ventures. This will bring the immense potential of the digital world to its customers across all segments.

The metaverse is opening up several avenues for us to investigate the digital realm in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. The pioneering NFTs from e& showcased the limitless potential the metaverse holds.

This highlighted e&’s commitment to advancing tech capabilities as the company’s blockchain arm surpassed AED 10 billion worth of transactions last year. It underpins the company’s vision to make a difference at every touchpoint by ideating and deploying best-in-class innovative solutions, harnessing advanced technologies and maintaining its cutting-edge infrastructure

The digital transformation that e& is experiencing on all fronts will accelerate its quest to innovate. e& has continuously supported the local development of new products, technologies and solutions, and is also keen to explore new opportunities and collaborate with the local ecosystem in building solutions that will play a key role in enhancing customer experience and elevating their lifestyles. It is significant to capitalize on every opportunity that strengthens our continued leadership as the champion digital telco in a hyper-connected world.

Enhancing the Digital Journey for the Customer

One of the key areas for e& has been transforming the customer experience across all channels. The customer journey is the whole end-to-end experience that a customer has when dealing with your brand.

Today, the smart store initiative has digitally and ergonomically transformed existing stores and those opening in new locations across the UAE. Since its launch, it has focused on offering customers a more personalized experience while improving the quality of its services. The focus has been on offering a seamless digital experience intertwined with human interaction at the stores.

etisalat by e&’s next-generation digital concept stores incorporate multiple digital touchpoints, empowering customers to explore and subscribe to e& products and services. There are more than 50 next-generation stores open across the UAE.

Digital customer care is another area where AI-driven virtual assistant bots and the e& mobile app have taken precedence. In fact, the SMB business launched its first virtual agent that handles all customer calls. With more and more consumers preferring to communicate digitally, businesses and customers have applications where they can manage all requirements.

The Robotic Center of Excellence also delivers a wide variety of automated solutions to boost efficiency and improve productivity, leading to greater customer satisfaction. There are more than 140 robots covering use cases that exceed 180, with more than 336,000 man-hours saved and 4.6 million autonomous transactions. The introduction of robotic process automation is part of e&’s endeavors to drive the digital future and empower society in line with the UAE’s Vision.

As e& moves further into the digital age, there is a growing need to turn towards emerging technologies to streamline operations and inject greater efficiency into our business processes. These robotic processes support backoffice agents, freeing them from repetitive, mundane tasks so they can concentrate on high-value activities that cannot be robotized. Software robots are helping back-office agents complete repetitive tasks 70% faster.

Creating Value Through Partner Networks

The launch of the new business program, the “e& partner networks,” leverages e&'s position as one of the world's leading telecom providers to support telecom operating companies in regional markets. Capitalizing on the Group's continued growth in international markets, with over 162 million subscribers in 16 countries, the program invites independent telecom operating companies from around the world to partner with e&. Partners will benefit from e&’s superior expertise across a range of business verticals, with a focus on adding measurable top- and bottom-line meaningful business impact.

The world has opened up to opportunity again, allowing us to adopt a resilient business growth mindset, create a future-ready operating model and focus on value creation. Strategic partnerships remain one of e&’s key priorities, and the scale of the opportunity available through the “e& partner networks” is enormous. With e& international at the forefront of the new strategy, “e& partner networks” will be able to leverage the privilege of the e& brand and benefit from a value-added engagement with telecoms-related business objectives.

e& can support these independent partners, who may currently be facing challenges in terms of matching the scale and expertise of their competitors, talent recruitment and high operating costs. Together, a business proposition can be created for consistent growth with value-added benefits from operational savings and uplifting topline revenue growth for our partners.

To a trusted industry leader with decades of experience, the importance of reliable and efficient networks for connecting communities and driving economic growth is integral. Through this program, e& is looking forward to working with telecom operators across markets and empowering them with the resources and expertise necessary to drive sustainable development and enhance customer experiences.

The program will support operators in customer engagement and value management, sales channels and customer experience, pricing and proposition support, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning modeling, international carrier and wholesale channels, network procurement and overall Capex and Opex optimization and digital and mobile finance services, as well as many other opportunities.

Each partner will be allocated the necessary resources and additional staff. Selected teams from e& international will be seconded to the offices for future support and close collaboration with the partner’s management team.

e&'s partner networks will enable e& international to share e&'s cutting-edge expertise and apply e&’s best practices, tools and models to a wider customer base in new geographic markets.

Commitment to Net Zero Operation by 2030

 “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. The importance of addressing the critical challenges related to climate change has become a priority for e&. We are working closely with our partners and stakeholders to create solutions that turn ideas into action. Through our commitment to enabling a low-carbon society, we will ramp up our efforts to address pressing issues such as climate action, environmental conservation, as well as the provision of safe, efficient and environmentally friendly products and services that help mitigate climate change,” said Dowidar.

Sustainability plans and ambitions are aligned to support the UAE's Net Zero 2050 Strategic Initiative and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), as well as e&’s commitment to the GSMA's initiative to take the entire mobile industry to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The importance of addressing the critical challenges related to climate change has become a priority for e&. e& is working with its partners and stakeholders to create solutions that turn ideas into action. Through its commitment to enabling a low-carbon society, e& will ramp up its efforts to address pressing issues such as climate action and environmental conservation, as well as the provision of safe, efficient and environmentally friendly products and services that help mitigate climate change.

e& has pledged its commitment to achieving net zero within its Group’s operations in the UAE for Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, focusing on key initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint through improving energy efficiency and sourcing renewable energy, among other initiatives.

Its climate action program will be aligned with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between the Carbon Disclosure Project, the United Nations Global Compact and the World Resources Institute, to set an emissions reduction trajectory between 2020 and 2030 for all Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sub-sectors. e&’s program will set out a clear net zero carbon emissions roadmap for it to advance its sustainability initiatives that have a positive human impact on future plans and operations. 

Currently, the UAE is ranked number one for the highest Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) penetration, maintaining its leadership position since 2016. e& constantly manages its environmental impact and strives to protect natural resources by strategically investing in sustainable and innovative solutions. Over the past decade, e& has strategically invested in fiber optic infrastructure, which has both technical and environmental advantages over traditional networks. The Group’s current operations focus on best practices for reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste and developing sustainable architecture to achieve a positive environmental impact.

To reach net zero, e& is committed to accelerating the de-carbonization of activities while focusing on mobile network modernization with the deployment of the latest generation of energy-efficient radio equipment (both hardware and software), increased use of renewable energy sources and carbon offsetting initiatives that are vital to achieving targets.

"e& has successfully built an ecosystem in which we operate, communicate and deliver our services to stakeholders and customers, which has helped us to be a key player in exploring clean and green solutions and has enabled us to keep the ESG agenda at the heart of our business model," Dowidar added.

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