TBY talks to Talal Said Al Mamari, CEO of Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel), on the firm's role in boosting the telecoms environment, supporting SMEs, and human resources.

Talal Said Al Mamari
Prior to his appointment as Omantel’s CEO, Talal Said Al Mamari held the position of CFO of Omantel with the responsibility of preserving and creating shareholder value for the company investors. He chairs several internal committees and teams on the boards of different companies and investment funds. He played an instrumental role in the IPO in 2005 and in the integration of mobile and fixed operations and later the full legal merger of Oman Mobile with Omantel. He also led the Omantel credit rating process by Moody’s (A3) and Standard & Poor’s (BBB + / A-2).

Can you elaborate on Omantel's role in the rapid development of the Sultanate's telecommunications environment?

Our business strategy is aligned with the growth and development of the Sultanate; we always keep an eye on future infrastructure projects in order to ensure that state-of-the-art telecommunications services are available and provided by Omantel. Telecommunications infrastructure is an enabler for economic and social growth since it is an essential tool for empowering people at the same time as creating a business climate that nurtures innovation and efficient business processes. There is a wealth of evidence that supports the fact that there is a direct link between the economic and social development of a region and the robustness of telecommunications infrastructure availability.

Omantel invested OMR75 million in telecommunications infrastructure during 2013. What are the major results of this significant investment?

We have invested mainly in strengthening our fixed-line infrastructure, which is the most extensive fixed-line service infrastructure in the Sultanate of Oman, in addition to further rolling out the latest mobile technology, 4G, to enable our customers to benefit from the high-speed broadband offered by this network.

Omantel is associated with the Oman Fiber Optic Company (OFC). What is the importance of this partnership?

OFC was primarily established to manufacture fiber-optic cables and is the only fiber-optic manufacturer in Oman. OFC also provides the basic infrastructure, including fixed-line infrastructure, and has recently also expanded the scope of its activities to include provision of wireless communications infrastructure for oil fields and other far-flung areas, which has now become a substantial part of its business. In addition, we are also associated with Oman Data Park (ODP), which is engaged in providing ICT solutions, and provides and manages hosting services for large corporations. ODP also provides state-of-the-art cloud computing services to SMEs and we are very proud of having these two companies, among others, to complement our core business.

SMEs are a key driver for the national economy and a hot topic in Oman today. How are you supporting their activities?

We have a specific focus on SMEs, and a special department focusing solely on SMEs, which has developed two specific packages already. One is called A'amali, and the other is called A'amali 2, which in Arabic means “my business." A'amali 2, for example, provides entrepreneurs with a package of fixed internet and mobile telephony. That is one side, directly from Omantel, but also from our subsidiary, ODP, which we established specifically to provide entrepreneurial solutions. We have cloud services through which an entrepreneur can go online and pick and choose services. For example, if I am an entrepreneur, I will need to buy laptops, servers, and so forth, and this service allows me to go online and pick the number of servers and the speed, and I simply receive an invoice for that package, which can be tailored later on. We do that at a very competitive price. Recently, ODP launched an array of highly promising cloud-based services, such as infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS), platform-as-a-service (PAAS), and software-as-a-service (SAAS). ODP is one of the pioneers to have commercially launched these services in the Middle East region. The service allows its subscribers to set up a server in the cloud and enable ODP to offer state-of-the-art and world-class services and compete with the likes of global multinational players but with the edge that the customers of ODP have their data and applications in Oman, which results in far higher quality and security than what the international competitors can offer.

What is the importance of human resources to Omantel?

Omantel is what it is today thanks only to the dedicated team of 2,800 skilled professionals from all parts of the country. Our main strength is our people, who share the same vision, and for me they are the real heroes of Omantel's success. We have a leadership style of delegation through engagement and we work actively to empower our staff through training and coaching. Since 2012, we have run an extensive engagement program through which our staff are actively involved in developing our corporate strategy and participate in steering and executing the strategy through programs at the top management level. This has been clearly reflected in the employee engagement survey carried out by a third party, Ernst & Young, where Omantel scored 93% on team loyalty to the company.