Jul. 27, 2020

Abdulqader Obaid Ali

UAE, Dubai

Abdulqader Obaid Ali

CEO, Smartworld

Smartworld is working with Cisco to deploy parts of the IP network infrastructure to support the digital experience offered at Expo 2020.


Abdulqader Obaid Ali holds a bachelor's of science in electronic engineering technology from Arizona State University in the US and a master's of science in technology management from Stirling University. He also holds certification from the International Institute of Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland. Additionally, he is a certified fraud examiner from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in the US. He is the president of the UAE Internal Audit Association and a board member of the Al Noor Centre for children with special needs. Among other awards, he was also the first UAE national recipient of the prestigious Wilfred Theiler Award.

What are the main drivers of Smartworld within the ICT sector?
At Smartworld, we take three things seriously. First is customer centricity; achieving customer satisfaction is our priority. We have designed agile approaches to help deliver better customer service. Second is cost optimization—we continuously pinpoint our resources and sharpen our operational capabilities in a way that enables us to offer cost-effective services and solutions. Third is innovation—the only way to balance the two previous drivers is to create a bridge of innovation. Marketplaces are becoming highly competitive. Our employees are our most vital asset in generating innovative ideas, which is why we have implemented the smart idea platform to internally capture ideas and suggestions.

Are there other advantages to 5G beyond speed?
The essential component is the speed at which data can be transferred. The technology promises to change our lives by connecting everything around us to a network that is 100 times faster. Today, drone technology has made huge strides, and 5G will unlock more of its capabilities. The network will allow for precise control of the drone, while sending back high-definition video. Before, the concept of security was always conceptualized in a two-dimensional way. Yet today, security is becoming increasingly three-dimensional with drones. This is the reason why we have invested in anti-drone technology to ensure that spaces can be secured. This is essential for areas like an airport where a drone issue can disrupt the operations. Every minute that an airport halts operation has immense costs. Technology is both a best friend to people and their biggest threat.

What is the significance for Smartworld of working with Cisco for Expo's network infrastructure?
It is a huge opportunity and honor for us to be part of the most iconic project in the UAE, and Smartworld is committed to helping Expo 2020 team deliver a global event enabled by the latest technology. Our team's expertise and past engagement in different complex projects helped us win Expo 2020 projects. Currently, Smartworld is working with Cisco to deploy parts of Expo's digital IP network infrastructure, including Cisco intent-based networking solutions, which support the digital experience offered at Expo 2020, helping visitors, participants, and businesses connect from anywhere on the 4.38-sqkm site, on any device, securely, reliably, and seamlessly. The network is also designed to support over 100,000 IoT devices during Expo. Smartworld will also implement ICT, security, and audiovisual systems in Expo 2020's sustainability pavilion. The pavilion is one of three at the expo, presenting the opportunity to deliver an aspirational message about the natural world, ecology, and technology to a global audience.

What are your main goals moving forward?
For us, it is not just about generating revenue. We are also interested in creating initiatives that can be sustainable and reliably counted on to give back to society. We have taken this mandate and focused on taking them into greater heights. As an example, in 2016 Smartworld launched CIOMajlis, a thought leadership platform and networking hub for senior technology executives to share experience, enhance knowledge, and explore business solutions. CIOMajlis performs six major initiatives. Every month, CIOMajlis organizes a roundtable on a specific topic related to the latest technology trends. More than 35 topics have been discussed, from blockchain, AI, and digital transformation to robotics, the future of governments, and so on. CIOMajlis also organizes site visits to explore how technology enables the development of organizations. Every year, CIOMajlis organizes a one-week innovation tour to one of the most innovative countries in the world in order to help CIOs spark innovation and build a strategic vision on the impact of disruptive technologies and emerging trends. It also launched the Future CIO Award to promote innovation in the field of IT. CIOMajlis also conducts benchmarking studies of IT services. Lastly, every year, CIOMajlis organizes an annual conference to give its members an opportunity to share case studies and success stories with their peers.