SMART INVESTMENTS, SECURE FUTURE

Qatar 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

Qnbn's investment in infrastructure will enable Qatar to leverage smart solutions and applications to diversify its economy.

Ahmed Salman Ali Al-Sulaiti
BIOGRAPHY
Ahmed Salman Ali Al-Sulaiti is CEO at Qnbn and one of the foremost Qatari industry professionals shaping the ambitious digitalization agenda of the country. Al-Sulaiti brings a wealth of experience and technical skills to Qnbn, matched by his management and leadership qualities. Previously, he was senior manager of the customer service continuous improvement department at Qatar Telecom and head of improvement department at Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation. Al-Sulaiti holds a doctorate of administration, a master’s degree in business research, and a master of business administration from Swiss Business School (SBS), along with a B.Sc. in electrical and telecom engineering from Qatar University.

How do you see Qnbn's role in the realization of the Qatar National Vision 2030?

Qnbn successfully delivers on its mandate and vision by providing a nationwide shareable network. Qnbn has provided Qatar with a highly secure and unlimited bandwidth telecom infrastructure, increased the affordability of FTTh networks, and shortened the time to market in the government's preparation to offer smart services. At present, we cover 93 geographic zones in Qatar. In addition, Qnbn's network is designed to help telecom service providers access all major Doha areas so that the country as a whole could benefit by having a choice of service providers. As part of the strategy, Qnbn has been working closely with the government to identify an umbrella program called the Unified Government Network (UGN), which provides the infrastructure and fiber optics for all government departments to avoid any duplication of networks. In addition, we can provide the entire infrastructure for special events, such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup. We are working with the government to fulfill all the necessary requirements to make Doha a smart city and Qatar a smart nation. The fundamentals of all smart concepts start with the infrastructure. If we have fiber optics and high-speed infrastructure, it is easy to deploy and adopt smart solutions. That is why Qnbn focuses on infrastructure deployment in Doha.

What benefits will the next generation fiber optics network bring?

After installing the next-generation fiber-optic infrastructure, we hope to have the ability to deliver the smart solutions and applications that may arise in the future. Qnbn's investment in the infrastructure will enable Qatar to leverage smart solutions and applications that can help diversify its economy. These infrastructure improvements currently contribute 3.5-4% to our GDP, and our goal is for this figure to grow to 5-6%.

How do you assess the progress that has been made with Qatar's digitalization agenda?

The achievements to date have been great. Qnbn monitors the usage of digitalization between government ministries and in private sector companies and SMEs, and subsequently gives the necessary support. We support smaller companies to shift to smarter solutions and use digital technology in general. There are some smart services application packages available, and there are programs from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to help SMEs. Qnbn provides whatever is needed in terms of the infrastructure. Notably, the percentage of SMEs in Qatar's economy is growing steadily.

What has been the impact of the blockade on Qatar's ICT sector?

As a company, we did not feel the effects because within the first 48 hours we secured all the raw materials and spare parts needed for our network. We continued without any delay in our projects. At present, our projects are performing even better than before because our teams have excellent external channels that allowed us to continue our work

The blockade has supported the idea that Qatar should be more self-sufficient. How do you see your own role in this regard?

Our first focus in this regard is to provide a secure network for the public sector. This will truly help the country with its vision for greater self-sufficiency. We have been well-organized in this task and have been integrating more ministries under the same secure network with high standards of cybersecurity and stability. This makes Qatar more confident in its ability to deal with any attack.

What are your outlook and main objectives for 2019?

Through providing smart city concepts for the country and smart solutions and systems for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and Qatar National Vision 2030, our role in Qatar in the coming year is critical. Our goal is to provide a secure and stable ICT environment in Qatar that is able to host all kinds of business and events. We will ensure the continuity of business after the World Cup and see how we can engage more with international players.