TBY talks to Ghada Philip El Rassi, Chief Executive Officer Expansion and Executive Board Member of MEEZA, on cloud services, cybersecurity, and expectations for the Qatari IT sector.

Can you give an overview of MEEZA and how MEEZA's Business Cloud can advance the digitalization of companies in Qatar?

MEEZA has been in the local market for the past 10 years and is now a mature company. It was established to accelerate IT adoption in Qatar as means of building a knowledge-based society in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030. MEEZA is an end-to-end managed IT service and solution provider based in Qatar with a state-of-the-art data center, which is its first key differentiator. We have 4,000sqm of data suites and are LEED-certified. Over the years, MEEZA has continued to mature and add new data center services starting with managed services to the cloud. MEEZA was a pioneer and the first to launch the concept of a cloud; the market, at that time, was careful to give it a try, and the level of understanding was not that mature. We did a great deal of education as first movers, and over time, the market witnessed other partners entering the sector. In 2018, MEEZA Expansion launched MEEZA Business Cloud and started to expand internationally by offering services and solutions online to the local as well as foreign markets. Working closely with international and local partners gave us the ability to accelerate our execution plan, and we currently provide Microsoft products including Azure, security solutions, and Augmented Reality (AR), and are now working to introduce Virtual Reality (VR) and backpack PCs, mainly for the fields such as architecture and medical services. Our go-to-market strategy is based on studies and analyses provided by well-known and certified advisors and consultants. We know that by 2022, some 30% of consumers in mature countries will depend on AI to decide on what they will eat and how they will wear clothes. This is an indication that we cannot ignore this trend, especially since we are fortunate to have the understanding of the board and the full support of investors.

How does MEEZA work to enhance cybersecurity in a business environment?

MEEZA is one of the pioneers of cybersecurity and one of the first movers to have a Commercial Security Operations Center (SOC) in Doha. We are extremely aware of the business needs when it comes to cybersecurity and data protection. Today, things are no longer tangible, and everything became digital even the money. Data is therefore becoming valuable. Future sources of wealth will be information, which is why cybersecurity has become an important and urgent matter in our industries.
The job of an IT service provider is to shoulder this responsibility so that clients and organizations can focus on their core business. There are four important security pillars that an organization needs to focus on to minimize the threat coming from the proliferation of digitalization: risk, governance, business continuity, and people. Those four elements, if secured to the client, will ensure any implementation will be successful, and all transactions will be secured. MEEZA's main focus since its establishment was to secure its platform and tools and always govern the deliverables of the partners, hence gaining its clients' trust in its services. Providing security services is essential for MEEZA as it plays an important role in offering protection against common threats and those targeting specific industries. MEEZA's Advanced Security Monitoring Services provides alerts and notification around the clock for organizations that require constant security monitoring of their critical assets and infrastructure.
Opting for the public cloud as a solution should be guaranteed with trustworthy platforms that are more secure than privately hosted servers. In addition, it is essential that the service provider take the educational path as a part of the delivery so to reduce human errors at the beginning. Continuous awareness programs will support a smooth and successful implementation and execution. If we do not explain exactly every step in the business and how users have to deal with those solutions and transactions, it will affect the entire investment and implementation. Clarity in engagement and communication is the key to success.

What other changes will shape Qatar's IT sector in the near future?

Qatar is pioneering many aspects, specifically in terms of implementing cyber laws. Qatar was the first GCC country to enact a law specific to data protection. 5G will also have a significant impact on our AI business and automation, and upgrade our hardware to cope with faster speed of communication and connection. This will also require telecom providers to work closely with service providers because the platform to render the service resides in our type of business. In the coming years, all telecoms will have to sell private network mobility, and this is another product that will be in the market soon.
Digital transformation will bring exciting opportunities, as well as new challenges, to all industries. We must harness the power of emerging technologies to create more efficient operations, new business models, and better customer experience. Our goal is to accelerate the growth of the IT industry in Qatar and the region through the provision of our services.

What are the priorities for MEEZA Expansion in 2019?

We are one team in MEEZA, and we are extremely excited to go international. The most important thing is to promote MEEZA and Qatar's platform. Our target is to position MEEZA as one of the most secured public platforms. MEEZA Expansion recently established number of strategic partnerships that are aimed at not only expanding MEEZA's footprint outside of Qatar, but also diversifying MEEZA's already rich service portfolio. MEEZA is further developing its expertise to provide its customers with user-friendly and hassle-free, cost-efficient, and tech-savvy innovation through MEEZA Expansion, one of four organizations that acquired a LEED Platinum Certification worldwide.